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Letters to Our Children

Krystal Languell






my grandmother: no contact for five years


my aunt: no contact for eight years


my biological grandmother: no contact for 12 years


her partner died and in the obituary, my cousins were listed but not my sister or me or our parents


the grandmother moved to North Carolina in the 90s and said the black people there were more respectful


periodically she tattooed her eyeliner and brows


when we saw my aunt at my grandfather’s funeral she said, “I hate being divorced”


a few years later we found her husband’s mug shot online


no contact for eight years


wanted for three years


he fled the state of South Carolina when he was due in court on charges of child rape


my parents’ best friends: no contact in several years


since they divorced and the husband cited her son’s black girlfriend and her black children as a reason


the wife moved to Belgium and remarried


she’d worked in a cardboard factory previously


she’d drive to Walkerton to pick up her grandchild


the husband had sometimes been drunk enough to piss himself


the husband had told me that if I were to plan a marriage, he must approve the groom


this is just one side and some friends


a handful of dead ends


her boss stole from the homeless shelter


he faked sales receipts on donated cars for decades


she photocopied years’ worth and kept them at home


he’s dead now


she was afraid he would burn down their house if she leaked it


my sister lost four friends to suicide


and referred to loss in a mock interview, & the counselor thought she meant ‘friends moving away for


our grandmother had an address book with a ✓ next to people to notify of her death


we didn’t get a ✓


Do I think anyone will see the poems?


No, I don’t think anyone will see the poems


a white girl touched me with her toes


she was barefoot with her feet up in Latin Sports Club


I recoiled


I decide against responding when my aunt sends me a message


“Why, because they’re acting like vultures?”


you can punish your family after you die


you can punish anyone


I used to ride in the Escalade with my aunt’s ex-husband


he took me to a property he bought in Myrtle Beach


a young man had set his girlfriend’s clothes on fire, then the fire got out of hand


she moved back in with her parents


in the condo, I looked through her burnt things


he was turned on by the smoke smell


by the neighbor watching us, clipping his toenails outside


I liked his money and I wanted him to like me


he watched me notice a ceramic dolphin & told me I could take anything I wanted


I touched it, I didn’t take it


message boards about his crimes teach me his family is rich on owning trailer parks


money never not dirty


dirty never not worse than dirt


when he sold the red Suburban, he printed a new title off the internet


his friend came over to look at my x-rays while I puked percocet into a sand bucket in his bed


he should have let me go


what happened happened


am I afraid of anyone?


yeah, I’m afraid of a few people


as a child I was warned about airing dirty laundry


(it’s probably not the people you would guess)


another poem about corruption


a stranger told me I was lucky to get out alive


I am lucky to be alive, but I am pretending to be dead


or I am pretending they are dead


you can punish your family before you die, too


he cut her face with a car key


she hid in the closet


my biological grandmother had a daycare with her partner on U.S. 31 for a while


they wore similar flannels & mock turtlenecks, not matchy-matchy


north of Indianapolis: not Carmel and not Meridian Street


my mom drove us to visit one summer and it was boarded up


she used to call my parents’ landline and leave a voicemail every few years


she’d say “It’s been a terrible year” and not leave a callback number


“Everybody’s shit stinks,” my sister wise-asses


No contact


No contact


No funeral


No obituary


No future


No contact


No ✓