Whitewashing Frank Butler

by | Apr 6, 2021 | Issue Twenty, Poetry

He is a salesman, can talk you into
a bigger barrel, can weave a tale with you
as Annie Oakley, sharp eyed and light
and little as she. Build him into the man
you want him to be, shadow behind
that girl—how ordinary it all seems,
blue eyed boy cutting steak across
the table from a living star: orbiting.
He’d shoot beside her sometimes, let her
shoot things from him, the end of a cigarette:
help me name what he was, at 28, bowing
to fifteen-year-old Annie: Common? It was a common
thing then, they say. We all saw our little
grandmothers wither like this: Mention
how she did not wither.
Mention his divorce, but briefly. Never names,
never children, never Henrietta whose only
heritage is a timeline in Annie’s story:
it’s widely disputed when the divorce
happened. It’s largely unknown her size
in comparison to Annie—how tall, how wide,
how dull her eyes. How old was she and where
did she bear down in a bed and birth
a line of Franks stretching into now.
Aren’t we all bastards of something, fatherless
girls and boys and reminder: it was common.
Was it common? It was common, that violence,
a woman left. A girl taken over.

Read more Issue Twenty | Poetry

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