Writer and visual artist Leslie Neustadt is a retired New York Assistant Attorney General and the author of Bearing Fruit: A Poetic Journey. Widely published, her work is illuminated by her Jewish upbringing and expresses her experiences as a woman, daughter, wife, mother, cancer patient and incest survivor. Visit www.LeslieNeustadt.com.
A father erases his daughter with a big eraser. Russel Edson
What if my father hadn’t erased me?
Who would I have been
without the scarlet “A” on my forehead?
My father erased his marks
like a plastic surgeon,
but I am branded in Braille.
He projected his needs
on my body like I was Lolita.
It took me years to grow into the role.
My perceptions dented like rusted tin,
I looked at myself through the distorted
mirror of his carney fun house.
He began early. Before I had words for it.
He erased my childhood
with insistent strokes
before I had breasts.
Stripped me one afternoon at Motel 6.
He erased me when he demanded
I practice my penmanship,
earn A’s at school,
obey his edicts as if
he deserved obeisance.
I became a good girl/bad girl,
purled into one.
I am still on a quest
to fill the erased space.