Cockroaches and White Bread, by Val B. Russell

On a chair
three legs sturdy
one loose
sits a girl
six
eyes scanning the tenement kitchen
scratching bed bug bites
and watching the cockroaches
crawling like babies
across the last slice of white bread
she counts eleven
then imagines one hundred elevens
because ma says there are many times more than what you see
of anything
but she knows there is only one slice of bread
and no milk
ma deliberates over whether to chase away the roaches
and divide the bread equally to fill a small square space of hunger
or
toss it out the window to the rats and birds in the alley
After she takes a draw on her cigarette, she flings the bread into the bare window sky
the six year old girl watches the smoke curl around the counter where the bread used to be
she doesn’t deliberate as the remaining cockroaches scatter
she decides
she will put this in her scribbler
when her printing is as neat as the words in her Mr. Whiskers grade one reader
But she makes a mental note to leave out the fucks and goddamns that are now drifting flippantly from her mother’s newly painted course lips
because Mr. Whiskers doesn’t swear

Visit Val at http://valbrussell.wordpress.com/

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