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[Pantoum: There's A Girl in the House]
by Kathleen Tyler

[Daddy; click for larger image]
"Daddy"
by Candyce Brokaw

There's a five-year-old girl in the house.
Her father staggers down the hall toward her.
Light from the street lamp outside her window
shivers across her bed, its pink-dotted sheets.

Her father staggers down the hall toward her.
The shadow of his arm, his hand,
shivers across her bed, its pink-dotted sheets.
He tells her what a good girl she is.

The shadow of his arm, his hand,
glides across a pink-dotted sheet. His hand slides under.
He tells her what a good girl she is.
It is their special time together. He

lifts a pink-dotted sheet, his hand slides under.
She squeezes her eyes shut against the caress.
It is their special time together. He
hums a lullaby, strokes her thighs.

She squeezes her eyes shut against the caress,
presses her legs together, fingers balling the sheets.
He hums a lullaby, strokes her thighs.
Cars purr by, a dog barks. She

presses her legs together, fingers balling the sheets.
In that other world, the world beyond the street lamp,
cars purr by, a dog barks. She
knows that she will play, too. Tomorrow

in that other world, the world beyond the street lamp,
another light will come early. She
knows that she will play, too. Tomorrow,
all hands will be still. The clock will stop,

another light will come early. She
counts as high as she can, starts again.
All hands will be still. The clock will stop.
The pressure of his fingers will stop. She

counts as high as she can, starts again.
She does not hate her daddy. Soon, the pressure
of his fingers will stop. Someone will remember
there's a five-year-old girl in the house.

Bio: Kathleen Tyler lives with her two children and companion in Los Angeles where she teaches American and English literature in a public high school. Her poems, book reviews, scholarly articles, and short stories have appeared in Bottomfish, the Habersham Review, Stories, and other publications.

The poem, Point Fermin Lighthouse, 1874, won first place in a contest sponsored by Half Tones to Jubilee. It was published in the Fall 1999 issue.

Contact Kathleen at ktyler34@earthlink.net


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