Diminutive for Ann, it was my mother’s given name, by way of Agnes, patron saint of girl virgins, from Greek hagios—upright & chaste. Raped at Texas A & M by men who slipped a Mickey in her Coke, she woke up in a field, her saddle oxfords full of rubbers. She pours Gallo red as she tells this, insists that I go on the pill. I’m seventeen. She says Nance also used to mean a feminine, too-nice fellow. Tomorrow she won’t recall.
I loathed tobacco’s taste and smell even when I chain-smoked in the alley behind school instead of Algebra, so pathological my ninth-grade need to be cool, to tap the box with my hand’s heel, peel the red thread, slide matches under cellophane. I carried a hard pack in my purse that morphed into this phone letting me know a scam’s likely, the pulmonologist would like to Zoom about my new nodule. After he gave me a black eye, my brother lit my Marlburl, like those oak knots formed after injury, sliced, stained into beauty.
Hilary Sideris’s poems have appeared recently in The American Journal of Poetry, Beltway Poetry Quarterly, OneArt, Poetry Daily, Right Hand Pointing, Salamander, Sixth Finch, and Verse Daily. She is the author of Un Amore Veloce (Kelsay Books 2019), The Silent B (Dos Madres Press 2019), and Animals in English, poems after Temple Grandin (Dos Madres Press 2020). She lives in Brooklyn and works as a professional developer for the CUNY Start Program at The City University of New York.
A Song for Hilary