GENRE: Middle Grade realistic fiction
My mama’s youngSaid she was 13 or so when she had me; that makes her about 27 now.
A baby having a baby,
Told me she didn’t know what to do with me
Hadn’t ever been around any other babies
For a long, long time, hadn’t been around anyone except Daddy,
Daddy is olderTall, covered in ropy muscle
Strong, leaving bruises on mama’s face and body
Quiet, saying things only once, and you’d better listen when he talks.
I am Clementine.Half-child, half-woman.
Mama taught me to read, write, and do some math.
She only went to school through third grade,
but she has a trunk full of books at the foot of the bed she shares with Daddy,
books that Daddy brought her as peace offerings.
For every fight, every raised fist, every flowering bruise,
Daddy presented Mama with a book.
Those little paper apologies crowd her trunk,
Whispering the words that Daddy will never speak.
I’ve never seen all of Mama’s booksShe only brings out the ones she wants me to read.
When I first learned to read, Mama let me borrow her
book about the little red hen baking bread.
I would hold the slick, colorful paper between my fingers,
Wondering how the hen’s bread tastes.
Now that I can read nearly anything, Mama lets me borrow her
good book, the Bible.
Now, I hold the thin, fragile paper between my fingers,
wondering where God is.