This is an excerpt from Feather’s Hand by Susan Kelly-DeWitt.

Painting Class

Deborah is a bee this morning: she stings
her boy Luther with the hard, flat back
of her hand; she pounds the table

twice with a crossboned fist, flashes
a tattooed wrist knotted with inky
lassoes.  Nairobi’s not going

to have any of it.  She pounds
the table back—harder—hurls
four letter words like live bait.

She is boldly beautiful in a cobalt
pique sundress that bares
a puckered constellation of scars

across her arms and chest.
(Her face is untouched except
where the kerosene lit

a pink, ragged moon onto one
shined cheek.)  She’d like to peel
off the crosshatched lizard skin

and fold it away, permanently
creased.  Misty Lavender is mute
since her rape.  She gets shaky

and afraid whenever Deborah
and Nairobi start to fight.  Today
she crayons a purple scallop

of cloud in a choppy lemon
sky and dangles a neon zigzag
cord from it—a rescue

helicopter’s waxy rope
but no rescuer to slide down
with hope-burned palms.