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because she needed a reason to quit cheerleading

because my dad just bought a Camaro           & the two of them looked very cool in it

for two kids who grew up       getting their backs beaten

because she wanted to attend my soccer games         & leave at halftime

when the team was losing                   because she enjoyed the discount grocery store

the smell of it              like stale bread            & Kix

because she didn’t have                      anyone else

because she wanted to take up smoking         in the garage               after bedtime

because she wanted me to walk into              the garage                   after bedtime

to tell her condescendingly     that cigarettes can kill you

because she wanted to have a daughter                      who beat teen pregnancy

because she wanted to teach me                     how to leave a man    

who won’t go down on you                because she finds it intimate

to put steroid cream on my psoriasis              & make jokes about how I burn my ass

every morning             in the shower                          because she wanted to tell me to pick

two things off the dollar menu           for dinner                    because

generational trauma                becomes stagnant                    without a new recipient

because she wanted to show me         how to wash bathtubs             with baking soda

and vinegar                 because she needed me with her        at the science museum

when she miscarried               because she knew I’d need her           to dye my hair

after Bobby & I           had sex in his basement          before he left for college

because she wanted me to be  the first in the family              to receive a bachelor’s degree

because first-born daughters are abrupt & honest      & she needed that

because without me                she would have walked

on the train tracks       with headphones in                 or done heroin

because she knew I’d need her           to explain how much it hurts

to lose someone          because she knew we’d both need someone

to fill                                       the space

because she knew       someday          she’d call

when the memories felt          a little less sharp

a wound          that takes two hands to hold               a blunted edge

to run our thumbs over.