Teresa Schartel Narey

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 On Bunker Hill

You slip & slide in your LA Gears, 
their lights not so stylish when covered in slush.Artwork by Gene McCormick
You’re seven, on the way to the bus stop
as a reform school girl smoking a Newport says, 
Hold up, takes a final drag, butts
the lit end on a statue of St. Patrick, takes
your hand, says, Waiting for the bus is a bitch. 
When you’re in high school you can
play hooky with your boyfriend, cause
no one will check on you. You point
to the maroon brick building across from the church, 
diagonal from your house, & ask, 
Is that why you go there?
Don’t judge, she says, flicking her wrists, 
revealing vertical cuts on each one. 
They give us therapy in there.
They don’t know shit about home lives where
everyone sits around the table in silence, cause 
the only one who showed up for dinner is me.
You don’t know much about suicide 
except Father Tom calls it selfish,
& Catholics think it’s a sin, & you were 
baptized in the church she hangs around.
I can make it the rest of way, you say, hoping
Father Tom hasn’t come out to salt the sidewalk.
I’ll walk you, she says, interlaces her fingers 
in yours. Her knuckles are inked with indigo stars.
When the bus sputters up, she’s still clutching
your hand. Wear gloves next time, she says.
She crams her hands into her pockets, waits, 
watches you walk to the back & sit. 
As the bus lurches forward,
she waves, retrieves another cigarette,
begins her crawl back up the icy hill. 


Teresa Schartel Narey's poetry has appeared or is forthcoming in No Tokens, Pittsburgh City Paper, Extract(s), and Wicked Alice, among others.  She has an MFA in creative writing from Chatham University.