Kami Westhoff


My sister spins in a brown swivel chair, feet dragging the carpet.
I feel their zip in the back of my throat. The lawyer's chalk screeches
words onto a blackboard, and he occasionally
turns to us to point at his chest and various
coordinates of his groin.

I watch from the wide window
ledge, its concrete meals
the backs of my thighs. The glass has been lifted
but there is no breeze, and arcs of sweat
explode from my father's armpits.

We eat McDonalds, which our father usually refuses us, claiming
the burgers are dogmeat. My sister repeats
the words of the lawyer: fellatio, cunnilingus, orgasm,
between bites of her Big Mac. I understand that even though the words
sound playful and silly, they mean a forever distance:
no more Rummy, whiffle ball, afternoons whipping
ourselves into somersaults before landing in the neighbor's haypit.

My words with the lawyer
are easier: French kiss, buttocks, tickle, pinch, but in the trial I refuse
to repeat what we practiced, even after my sister says far worse. I eye her
apple pie. I'm not allowed to eat them, Getting chubby, my father says. She will soon finish
her burger and eat the pie slowly, eat bite followed by a dramatic intake
of air to cool the steaming inside.

When the lawyer says "ejaculation," my father
bends out the window, his body halved,
says “Well I'll be good god damned,” and leaves.
I look at the street, flags lie limp against their poles.
A goldenrod ticket flares
on the windshield of our baby blue Dodge Dart.

The next day will be the 4th of July,
and we'll drive to Bargain Betty's on the res
and spend $50 on fireworks. My sister and I will light the fuse
of each other's Black Cats, hearts booming
in our chests like M80s. We will stare at the sparks, their tiny
explosions cooling at our feet. Our father will bark “Let
go, goddamn it, don't you have a brain in your head?”

But in that second, we pinch tiny weapons between our fingertips,
decide what will or will not blow us into pieces, and we force each other
to hold on just a little bit longer.

Kami Westhoff's work has appeared in journals including Meridian, Phoebe, Third Coast, River City, and Carve.

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