The leftover cake is temptation, Satan
offering Christ the world in a water glass
that hot desert day. Three times I am lured
out of bed to open my mouth wide
to the sweet thing, my father sleeping
down the hall his words no shield.
The worst thing to happen to a woman
is to get fat and lose her looks

I am slicing another sliver and
swallowing, pink sugar stuck against
pink tongue, floor felled crumbs
like manna sprung from heaven
And if you need proof just look at your mother
Father in the doorway, something hard
in his hand to beat me with
And you are shaping up to be just like her
You do not need to eat so much

until I obey him, in my disappearance
to become wanted filling myself up with
smoke as if it were the breath of life
kissed into the first man as God’s own good truth.
But now I know there are worse
things, like holding close what will destroy me.
Being with men who beat me
down accordingly. My baby boy on visitation
with one of them, his father.
His bruises afterwards.

Hope Wabuke
Hope Wabuke is the author of the poetry collections The Leaving and Movement No.1: Trains, an assistant professor of English and Creative Writing at University of Nebraska-Lincoln, and a contributing editor for The Root. She has won awards from the National Endowment for the Arts, the Barbara Deming Memorial Fund for Women Writers, the New York Times Foundation. Her work has appeared in Guernica, The Guardian, The North American Review, Ms. Magazine online, and Dame, among others.