‘Smile!’ Gimlet gaze bores into mine.
‘Smile!’ … Hardened eyes
‘I can tell you, me, who’s been
to hell… and back,’ she qualifies.

‘You take your children to the park?
Us, we went somewhere… where
The earth was scorched with blood-red snow
And my father... he’s still there.’

Silence in the little room.
Words fail. What to say?
‘Nothing,’ she croons, ‘not when
I’ve been to hell, and come back all that way.’

Those hollow eyes scorching my skin
Piercing, aflame with black
‘Smile,’ she whispers. ‘Smile for me…
Who’s been to hell… and back.’

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