“Shame at Eight” by Bronwen Butter Newcott

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Bronwen Butter Newcott


It was afternoon, nose aching into my eyes
from his fist, when I grabbed his neck and squeezed
a firm hard squeeze, wringing out a washcloth
in the bath. I didn’t let go when he fell to his knees,
nor at the shock of his skin changing, face purpled.
The power of my hands swelled, but more horrifying
than my grip was my brother’s refusal to break, even then,
his eyes fixed on my face, plea-less as I held him there.

from Rattle #49, Fall 2015

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Bronwen Butter Newcott: “When I was sixteen, I read Bishop: ‘I thought of the coarse white flesh/ packed in like feathers,/ the big bones and the little bones,/ the dramatic reds and blacks/ of his shiny entrails,/ and the pink swim-bladder/ like a big peony./ I looked into his eyes/ …/ shallower, and yellowed,/ the irises backed and packed/ with tarnished tinfoil’ and I wanted to see like that, to imagine like that, with beauty and exactness. So I started to look more closely at and in and began to make poems.”

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