Soaked Words


It is post World War II.

The year is 1956.

The place is a United States Army military base somewhere in Germany.

She’s just come from playing with her

dearest friend in the entire world at the base housing playground.

She is screaming because of her friend’s tears and words.

She throws open the door to home and flings her

little five-year old body toward Papa’s lap

It is a safe and well-known sanctuary.

Her friend’s eyes had held angry flashing lights

along with a spoken longing

for her own long-deceased grandmother,

who had been a slave.

Papa! her scream begs

What is a slave?

She sobs into his neck and shoulder.

After Papa explains she becomes hysterical


and is put to bed,

missing the family’s evening meal.

In the morning she appears at the family breakfast table.

Arms and face are black with Papa’s paint markers.

No one speaks.