“Number Seven” by Brittany Williams

There were the stairs,
just outside of the apartment complex.
I sat there with the day,
listening to its complaints about the world.

There were palm trees with trunks
that looked like plates stacked on top of each other.
There was the sky
that looked like paper that had been erased
with a bad eraser.

There was a cold and barren feeling
within me, throughout the sky,
the wind too;
it brushed up along my thigh and the trees
just to bring chills and go on its way.

There was my mother
who was inside her apartment
with her kids.
I played double dutch with my thumbs and
reminded myself over and over again
“I don’t live here. I can’t live here. I don’t want to live here.”

There was me walking inside
with my only invitation being
“make sure you
shut my got damn door.”
As if I…

There was this one time I brought
a girlfriend home. Heather Hughes:
ginger, red freckles and hair and lips.
Her warm hand held on tighter
to mine as if to say
“I’m sorry she speaks to you that way.”
I in return gave her a “I should be use to this
by now” squeeze.

There was still not enough furniture
for her to have been living here for
three years.
She kept loads of decorating and D.I.Y. magazines
in her room and bathrooms, though.

There were lonely walls,
unless you count the small thumb prints
and nail holes for company.
There were two red arm chairs
with lumpy cushions,
where frequent strangers would sit,
spill shit and gossip.

There was this one time
when my mom was gossiping
about the girl down the street
who couldn’t find a man,
and I wanted to say, “but
isn’t that the reason all of us
have different dads?
Because you can’t find one either?”
Instead I bit my toenails.

There was a stain on the left arm
of the armchair closest to the bar
with no bar stools.
There were ceiling fans
loaded with dust.
There was a stereo system that made the walls vibrate
when the volume was turned up to its maximum.
The 50 inch HDTV glistened
and smiled as it hung on the wall
like a trophy.

There was mud brown carpet.
There were windows, big windows.
There were three small rooms.
There wasn’t much food.
Well, there was food only at the beginning of the month
when there was food stamps and money.
There were food stamps being sold for money.
There was stuff being bought that no one ever saw.

Then there was this woman,
my mother.
There were seven children.

There was the time when she was pregnant
with seven,
“I think I’m going to get an abortion.” she says.
I told her if she did, I wouldn’t speak to her again.

For number seven,
the consequences of being his mother’s seed
would not succeed until he began to try
to understand life.
There was no ‘I hate you’
disguised as ‘I love you’.
Number seven was never to go without
anything, including food because there was a breast.

There was Seagram’s gin, her favorite.
She’d inhale that poison.

Dive in it,
her swimming pool of oblivion and drunkenness.
Staggering to nurse the screeching child
and dissolve his anger. Hoping he’d fall asleep.
And he would.
Sucking and coddling his mother as she pumped
her sticky gin breast milk into his
O shaped hungry mouth.
He sucked and sucked
until, there he was
numb.

There was number seven waking up
in the midst of this intoxication.
Waddling and warm,
bloated cheeks and stomach.

There was mother, smiling.
There was number seven looking up at her,
holding on to her
and her breast
and crying for more.

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