Round Peg

When I crossed over to live with Aunt Lena,
she said I hadn’t learned to do housework right:
the floors I scrubbed would have to be cleaner,
no lamp was allowed for reading at night.
My father ought to have married that other
German girl more fit for a Lutheran man
than my stylish fox-trotting mother
from his uncle’s dark, half Irish clan.
Auntie informed me that cousins who married
begat offspring who were foolish and strange,
but all those bad traits that I carried
would give her pleasurable duty to change.
I yielded, but not because she was strong,
stifled my pain because I yearned to belong.

Poems reprinted with permission of Norbert Blei, literary executor for Frances May. This poem appeared in The Summer I Was a Horse (Door Mouse Press, 1989).