Wednesday, February 5, 2020


Cassandra was twenty-three,
and she knew everything.
Everything, it was all so clear,
but she was unable to persuade a soul.
Certainly not her parents,
whose only topics of conversation
were money and taxes.
Certainly not her uncle
with his mind
like a rusty bear trap
slammed shut.
Certainly not her aunt,
with her furrowed brow
and shaking hands,
who just wanted to make
everything nice,
Cassandra’s little sister, still
too young to know anything,
believed in fairy princesses,
waved her plastic wand around,
sometimes smacking people in the head
when she cast her spell.
And the middle child,
her brother,
now at sixteen,
some kind of feral animal.
He’d speak only of sports
and the latest superhero movie
and disappear for long stretches
and fought with his parents
over the car,
and maybe soon he’d know everything too,
but for now,
he was moved only by the basest
biological urges.
So Cassandra was alone,
with her sighs and eye rolls.
And her uncle would take the bait
with a sneering mouth,
spitting out flecks of food as he talked,
and after a couple of minutes,
when voices started to be raised,
his wife would lightly touch his arm
and forbid him with her eyes.
Let’s just be nice,
be nice.
But Cassandra had no time
to be nice.
When she dreamt at night,
she saw visions of burning cities
and blasted landscapes,
and starving refugees
while her family sat at the dinner table,
as always,
passing butter and Hawaiian rolls.
The worst part of it all
was there would be no one left
at the end
to whom she could say,
“I told you so.”

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