I CAN’T HELP YOUR DAUGHTER

by Luke Otley

I felt somehow guilty
for what you’d done.
You’d hurt yourself
and now they knew.
Now there was nowhere
for me to hide.
When they looked at me
I felt the heat
and bile churning
in my cheeks–
How could you?–
I knew they’d say
if there was any air
in that tiny place,
and blood
was in my ears.
And at the edges
the world began to fall away,
your father at the kitchen counter
leaned and gripped
and chewed his cheeks
tutted all disgusted like,
glanced at your mother-
how should he proceed?
Twice my size
her perfume came down
like a cloud of ash
upon my head–
I think you should go home–
she said.