Blush by Danielle Jones-Pruett

To celebrate Danielle Jones-Pruett’s recent receipt of a 2014 Rona Jaffe Foundation Writers’ Award, we’re running her poem, “Blush,” which we published in January in issue four.

She stood in front of her father,
too young to know how ugly
she was when she blushed—
the white splotches, the streaks
like burned fingers—only old enough
to know the heat of her cheeks
as her father asked her why,
his army-issue glasses askew
on his face, the frames so bold
and black and sure of themselves
they made his skinny face seem strange
and slant, honey why
would you kick that boy

It was 1986. A Sunday,
because this was Sunday school,
and she couldn’t tell her father
what that boy had called him,
the word he’d spit, his face twisted
so his teeth looked false,
couldn’t even whisper it
in her father’s ear—

She didn’t know, really, what it meant
but she knew it was meant to hurt
and the spittle burning her eyes
made her want to hurt him back, so yes,
she followed him into the boy’s bathroom
and kicked him right in the place she felt that word
had come from, and he groaned, but she kicked
even harder, until a stall door creaked open—

She wouldn’t think of this moment until years later,
2003, the same year her father died, when she stood
in the small security office she hadn’t even known existed
in the back of grocery stores, looking down
at a metal desk, her mother’s wrinkled purse splayed open,
a couple of gold-lined chocolate bars,
some candy wrappers, tissue strings,
and a small, silver moon of blush, unopened.


“Blush” first appeared in apt’s fourth print annual.


Danielle Jones-Pruett received a B.A. in English and psychology from Jacksonville State University, and an M.F.A. in poetry from the University of Massachusetts Boston. Her poems have appeared or are forthcoming in Best New Poets 2014, Beloit Poetry Journal, Cider Press Review, Southern Poetry Review, and many others.

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