"Where do you cut, father?" she asks carelessly. Two of her sticky
ﬁngers twist under a wiry cord, pink and full like young bloated starﬁsh.
"Do you roll your soggy trousers over those hairy calves," she grins,
"muscles twitching and circulation gritting its rotten teeth
at you? Father, do your scissors rust? Do your lips chap, do
your eyelashes rub like chimney sweeps in heat?" He is
screeching. His gnarled black nails yank at his
new itchy beard. She hears scratches, shifts her light,
uncurling skull, and palms a yellowing glove over the butter-
smooth mounds of her dominant left hand. No one comes.
Her eight sheathed ﬁngertips dimple him. They sink inside
the blubbering honey-thick pockets of his face. "Why do you still
offer excuses as if I am small enough to grovel for them
with two little hands?" Stringy brown blood hangs
like a dying vine from his gaping lower lip; one sausaged
and purpled ﬁnger, girdled with gold, waves
at his thigh. She ﬁts her two big-heeled feet
under the shadow of her father's great riding boots and one hand
in the cave of his hairy knuckles. She spins him, thinking of how she
used to feel his feet twitch like animals underneath the stiff leather
when they danced. Her adult breasts are warm and beat slowly with her ribcage,
each tit small and ﬂat as a palm; she smooths his collar, then walks away alone.
When there is a knock at the door her hands still for a moment and she makes
eye contact with the grieving household widow in the reflection of the glass.
"Mother," she demands, "why are you still punishing me?" One foot is
bloody, nearly toeless and worming out of sight. She sits carefully thumbing
her ﬂesh from the creases in the slipper. At its waxy, unlicked edges, her mother's
mouth strains. "Look now, mother, it's a perfect ﬁt," she says.
The man at the door waits a moment more, eyes heavy and dry like croquet balls.