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by Richard Stimac

At recess, the boys pinched her budding breasts.
She cried but didn’t flinch. The mean girls laughed.
The teachers ignored her honest protests.
As if by divine will, a turgid shaft
of sunlight penetrated a cleft cloud.
Just one teacher (the faculty short-staffed)
helped her stand and shooed away a thick crowd
of children abuzz with rumor. The nurse
took note of the bruises. Behind the shroud
of office walls, the principal was terse,
rebuking. Her father threatened to sue.
At last, beaten, all he could was curse
the Church. His daughter learned what was her due:
Her witness would be mistrusted, and true.


“What of it? Priam dies. All fathers die.
“As do all good sons.” She traced the outline
Of his face, the full lips, the aquiline
Nose, heavy brows that framed each almond eye.
She marked the dead body. “We must comply
“With heaven’s mandate. This ravished rough shrine
“Betwixt my legs, where this king drank his wine,
“And reveled . . . my God, is no longer mine.
“An apostate will lie in this royal hall
“And spill his seed upon the sacred stage.”
Now she caressed her own face, the swart mien.
She gouged her fingernails, as if to scrawl
Prophecy on her cheeks: “Here died a queen.”
Her dry breasts would nurse her hate and her rage.

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