X

SINS OF THE FATHER

 

Silence it reigned in the inn and the town,

as the silence of pain came silently down.

Denise was confused as to how she had come

to tell all these folk of the things she had done.

 

Yet it felt right, it felt free, it felt like salvation,

and Pastor Bill was the man who stood at the station

of her redemption from a life of hatred and resentment.

 

Denise resumed her story with an air of contentment:

 

‘This was all long ‘fore we came to Two Trails Cross,

and I thought my folks would be at a loss

to figure out what to do with my baby.

But it turned out they knew all along. And I knew maybe

that something was up.

Cos it was all too easy to give up that pup.

 

‘Way back then, when the Peabody’s came,

my Papa went to welcome them in.

With my sneakin’ around, I learned of his game

and I learned more than I wanted ‘bout the depth of his sin.

 

Denise was like an actress now, sitting up on the bar as if on a stage.

Gone was the separation she felt from these folk.

Gone was the hatred; gone was the rage.

 

‘See, it turned out that no stranger had found me that day.

My Papa had loosed that poisonous snake,

and he watched from the trees as his child was so afraid

that she peed herself in the clothes Mama made.

 

‘He waited and carried me off like a beast,

and presented me to some gathering like the hog of the feast.

And they had their way, each man in his turn.

And that’s why, for me, the moon failed to turn.’

 

‘This is outrageous!’ an elderly man steamed.

‘I knew your father and that ain’t how he seemed.’

 

‘That’s right,’ said another, about the same age.

‘He was a decent man since he stepped off that stage

that came trundlin’ into town after the war.

I tell ya, he wouldn’t have made you a whore

like ya say. He wouldn’t have done them things.’

 

But Denise told it true, like a bird who sings

when the time had come to clean out its nest.

Ignoring the naysayers, she told them the rest:

 

‘Peabody shook hands with my Pop like old friends.

Oh, these two knew each other, damn right!

They’d fought in the war and they’d followed the trends

of some wicked thing they’d done in the fight.

 

‘So my boy was given to the Peabody bitch,

and I saw her then as a bloodthirsty witch

who seduced all the idiot and rotten men.’

 

Everyone knew. Everyone knew it was them

who had just gone and spoken out against Denise and her claims.

They stormed from the inn, pushing out through the remains

of those who had stayed huddled at the door…

 

cos right then, most were in to hear more.

 

Jimmy and Bill watched as others left, too,

as if they could hear their clocks ticking fast.

Pastor Bill despaired of what he could ever do

of redeeming this town from its monstrous past.

 

‘So Norman was your son?’ Jimmy put in,

as he poured himself a measure of sin.

‘I don’t understand then…how could you dare?

How could you leave him hangin’ out there?’

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