The Bathroom was the Only Room with a Door

The summer my stepfather was out of the country his white & cream Stratocaster, rumored to be a Jimi Hendrix, glared like an apparition in the studio apartment; the Formica table defiant in its whiteness, my older sister stood on it, barefoot, cuts on her legs from all those showers with a loofah, screaming get that thing away from me, it’s trying to kill me, as our Siberian Husky barked, its bark vibrating into quiet eternity, but my laugh, my laugh at her paranoia was shame showing itself in the odd ways it appeared; the table, after she got down, cleaned by my mother with an overused green rag, the smell of dirt like gasoline; I was raped too, a knife at my neck in the Village, when I was around your age; I kept my head down, drinking grape juice; I never spoke to Ma or my sister about what men do to women, but I swore to see my own manhood as bestial; we ate Dinty Moore Beef Stew & Hungryman dinners, I sat by Ma, her feet next to me, my back against the leg of the couch & we watched Mr. Belvedere; I scrubbed the floor with mop water & a sponge after dinner, the dust swirled in the light.


Shamar Hill, who is Jewish, Barbadian and Cherokee, graduated from the MFA program at New York University. He is the recipient of numerous awards including a New York Foundation for the Arts Fellowship. He has been published in the American Reader and has work forthcoming in Rumpus and Southern Humanities Review. He is working on his first poetry collection, Photographs of an Imagined Childhood, and a memoir, In Defiance of All True Things.