Father has a space between his front teeth—he never cared to have it fixed.

When he smiles, I notice the gap through which he whistles.
My top teeth were buck with a space in-between. Overgrown central incisors
with crooked canines; like dancing partners jutting out from my gums.

It’s the space between that holds you aloft; that collects our secrets, suspends them
into infinite galaxies.
The space that connects us.

Father brought the wars home and kept them in perpetual space. And I, locked in my upstairs bedroom listened to his accusations: calling me names like slut and whore. His shrill voice echoed through the walls; seeped into tar that paved my street, oozed into the school bus I rode each day. Leaked into the park next door where my friends played. Trickled into their houses, past their mother’s ears.

Words clinging to me
like Velcro branding me with shame
Leaving dreams and hopes inside my space.

Alone in my room till father turns the key. His anger exploding like a rabid animal.
Hunting me down—listening to soft whimpering sounds. An easy hunt
Easier than the war

Space In Between

Space In Between

Heavy breaths down my neck mixed with grunts of passion
Sounds of threads ripping
exposing my thin body.

I call him names
dirty names
like “short eyes”
and “baby raper”

His face turns beet red
His larynx rips in two
We become hoarse together
watching each other’s eyes bulge into white moons with bloody rivers. Our sweat merges to form a connection

Held within the space.

About TRatner

Terry Ratner is a freelance writer, registered nurse, and writing instructor in Phoenix, Arizona. In June of 2004, she graduated with a Master of Fine Arts degree in creative nonfiction from Antioch University, Los Angeles. Writing has always served a purpose in her life, but it wasn't until her son died in a motorcycle accident in March, 1999, that she began to publish her works. What's unique about Terry is the way she balances the life of a nurse with the life of a writer. "Nursing allows me to give back to the community and then write about those experiences." Ratner teaches creative writing in a variety of settings from community colleges to a school for homeless children (Thomas J. Pappas) to wellness communities throughout the Valley of the Sun. In 2004, Terry launched an Arts and Healing program for children undergoing dialysis at Banner Good Samaritan Medical Center. She has published numerous personal essays, cover stories, interviews, and book reviews for a variety of national and regional publications. Her manuscript, a work in progress, features a series of twelve essays, ten of which are introduced with black and white photos, dealing with issues of family and identity.
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