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At Crescent Park

by Despy Boutris

His hot hand hitting my face—that’s what I remember 
                    most about that night. My father had come in

to check on me and found the bundle of clothes
                    under the covers where my body should have been.

So, fine. I’d snuck out. I’d seen a girl.
                    Do other fathers show how much they care

with such force? Just an hour after the one I wanted
                    traced my thigh with a feather-light touch,

he yanked my hair so hard I fell. His voice a whisper.
                    Get your ass into bed. I lay down,

cheek stinging. Shut my eyes, pictured the girl’s face,
                    her sideways smile. Her quiet I want to kiss you

everywhere. The way she looked at me, crooked-lipped,
                    when I joked In Kansas City? In Griswold, Iowa?

At the Dairy Queen? She laughed. In a Porta Potty?
                    Yes, she vowed. Everywhere. And everything was perfect

and nothing hurt.

Despy Boutris’s writing has been published or is forthcoming in Copper Nickel, Colorado Review, The Adroit Journal, Prairie Schooner, Palette Poetry, Third Coast, Raleigh Review, and more. Currently, she teaches at the University of Houston and serves as assistant poetry editor for Gulf Coast.