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Crater Face Analysis

Author: poem of Denise Duhamel Type: poem Views: 10

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is what we called her. The story was

that her father had thrown Drano at her

which was probably true, given the way she slouched

through fifth grade, afraid of the world, recess

especially. She had acne scars

before she had acne—poxs and dips

and bright red patches.

                                   I don't remember

any report in the papers. I don't remember

my father telling me her father had gone to jail.

I never looked close to see the particulars

of Crater Face's scars. She was a blur, a cartoon

melting. Then, when she healed—her face,

a million pebbles set in cement.

                                               Even Comet Boy,

who got his name by being so abrasive,

who made fun of everyone, didn't make fun

of her. She walked over the bridge

with the one other white girl who lived

in her neighborhood. Smoke curled

like Slinkies from the factory stacks

above them.

                  I liked to imagine that Crater Face

went straight home, like I did, to watch Shirley Temple

on channel 56. I liked to imagine that she slipped

into the screen, bumping Shirley with her hip

so that child actress slid out of frame, into the tubes

and wires that made the TV sputter when I turned it on.

Sometimes when I watched, I'd see Crater Face

tap-dancing with tall black men whose eyes

looked shiny, like the whites of hard-boiled eggs.

I'd try to imagine that her block was full

of friendly folk, with a lighthouse or goats

running in the street.

                               It was my way of praying,

my way of un-imagining the Drano pellets

that must have smacked against her

like a round of mini-bullets,

her whole face as vulnerable as a tongue

wrapped in sizzling pizza cheese.

How she'd come home with homework,

the weight of her books bending her into a wilting plant.

How her father called her slut, bitch, big baby, slob.

The hospital where she was forced to say it was an accident.

Her face palpable as something glowing in a Petri dish.

The bandages over her eyes.

                                            In black and white,

with all that make-up, Crater Face almost looked pretty

sure her MGM father was coming back soon from the war,

seeing whole zoos in her thin orphanage soup.

She looked happiest when she was filmed

from the back, sprinting into the future,

fading into tiny gray dots on UHF.

Anonymous submission.


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