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The Barren Tree

Updated: Aug 19, 2021

By, Wendiann Alfieri

Her mother was making dinner

Her father outside by the pool

Her mouth was talking loudly

As she gossiped on the phone about school

Her lips were smacking together

After a layer of chapstick she applied

When her mother shouted, “ Dinner!”

And she headed for inside

Her dad was eating string beans

Her mother with a glass of wine

As they ask their daughter if she likes dinner

And she replies “ Fine”

Her mother looks at her father

As he cautiously asks about her day at school

When she snaps back

“ What’s the matter? As far as I’m concerned this isn’t school”

Her mother speaks up loudly

And more determined now

To ask her about Jason

And how she turned him down

Their daughters eyes flashed

With rage and envy

A flame of ugly green

“ how do you know about that? I did what I had to do. That asshole had it coming. He’s too stupid to be in school”

Her mother snaps that’s not how she raised her

To videotape her friend dumping water on his head

While she pretended she liked him

And all the school laughed at his expense

“ mom who cares, he was annoying and cruel. He totally ignored my friend when she said hi to him in middle school”

Her mother says that’s not the point and don’t try to make an excuse

The video had been online

Before being taken down

by now all of the school knew

The daughters eyes turned downward in a brief look of shame

she got angry

Because of course herself she thought

Was not the one to be blamed

“ Mom that boy is disgusting, of whom I will never again speak. In fact I’m done with this conversation,”

And she got up to leave

Her father shouted after her

That to her mom she should not speak that way

And her mother said “ Jim, leave it. I wish she knew what it would be like just to not be able to chat,”

Her father agreed

And went back to his green beans

And the mother was thinking as she sat.

A sip of wine was needed

And she picked up her glass

Yes tomorrow her daughter will know

That she’s not going to let her be a bully

She didn’t raise her like that

As the mother cleaned the dishes

the father was helping too

The mother continued to think

Then knew what she had to do

The next day the daughter rose

From a dream so weird and daft

She got up to use the bathroom brush her teeth and comb her hair

When her lips had gotten stuck together

opening them wasn’t an option

she looked at the mirror and saw

She couldn’t speak or open them at all

she tried to cry out she saw

The more she tried and clawed

Her lips were stuck together

even her throat felt raw

She ran downstairs for breakfast

And saw no one was there

No chairs pulled out or even a smell

Of breakfast in the air

She felt so thirsty and turned on the tap

ran her lips under it

She tried opening her mouth to drink

still had no luck