· “There are worse things than a dead kid,” I think, ·
by Alexis Rhone Fancher
when I hear the latest, secondhand, about my niece. My sister no longer mentions her when she calls, and I’m afraid to ask, afraid my sister will crumble. I have watched her decline mirror that of her daughter’s; each methamphetamine-fueled deception a further sinking. Already I fear the worst. So when the phone finally rings, my sister’s despair wailing across the continent, I am ready to listen. When she tells me Anna’s dropped out of school, six classes short of her degree, that she’s homeless, desperate, jumping out of her tattooed skin, I bite my tongue. When my sister tells me she tried an intervention – that Anna assaulted her, that she called the cops and pressed charges, I ask only if my sister’s alright… if her right arm, smashed in an accident, put together with pins and screws, survived the fall… if my niece, her life pried apart by misstep after misstep, fall after fall, is still viable. When my sister tells me my niece swears she’s infested with bugs – her truck, her hair, her dog -I say nothing. And when she tells me she’s had the truck fumigated, bathed the dog and her daughter in RID, shaved her head, I picture my niece at four, dancing in the park; her smooth flesh, all that long-haired loveliness.
Image supplied by the author, who also retains full copyright.
Alexis Rhone Fancher is the author of How I Lost My Virginity To Michael Cohen and other heart stab poems, (2014), State of Grace: The Joshua Elegies,(2015), and Enter Here (2017). She is published in Best American Poetry 2016, Rattle, Paper & Ink, Plume, Nashville Review, Diode, Glass, Tinderbox, Verse Daily, and elsewhere. Her photos are published worldwide. A multiple Pushcart Prize and Best of the Net nominee, Alexis is poetry editor of Cultural Weekly. She lives in Los Angeles. www.alexisrhonefancher.com