A Poem by Jennifer O’Neill Pickering

A Lucky Girl

She is the youngest daughter

the good listener,

the lucky one with straight

teeth, the last born,

not often given to advice.

People tell her their secrets.

Before Dad ran off to Mexico,

with the best friend,

the older sister never had

much to say about life at Farmlands;

the high-water bungalow,

twenty-acres of tomatoes,

stewing in summer’s kettle.

How she skips right through his warnings

Don’t go down to the river.

Never speaks of the whippings,

behind the barn,

except to the little sister,

the good listener.

How it takes forever to unhook his belt,

the one with the horseshoe buckle.

How she braces for the sting

against the planks of bubbled paint.

leather to soft skin

tattoed with welts

as if she just stepped on a wasps nest,

and not out of line.

Jennifer O’Neill Pickering is a literary and visual artist living in California who loves to paint with words. Find her poems and prose featured in publications, literary journals and podcasts. Some of these include Writer’s on the Air, Sacramento Voices, Earth’s Daughters, Yellow Silk, Heresies, Restore and Restory, The Dog With the Old Soul and Tiger’s Eye: A Journal of Poetry. ” Her poem, I Am the Creek” is included in the Sacramento site-specific sculpture, Open Circle. A collection of her poetry, Blooming In Winter is illustrated with ten color plates of her visual art and available on Amazon and elsewhere. She is editor of the Sable and Quill: writers who are also visual artists. Shepaintsandwrites.com

4 thoughts on “A Poem by Jennifer O’Neill Pickering

  1. Such softness in this poet’s voice opens us to listen with great empathy to such tragic actions of abuse so hidden in shame. She eases us courageously into the chant within of “Never again, not ever!” Thank you for our strength being revealed to us in such a brilliant, loving way.


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