The Roll Call

The Roll Call
Madison Hunt

Before I walked to school for the first time,
I had only been called Lovey.
My daddy said it was because
I was the loveliest thing he’d ever seen
second to my mama
who was God’s present to the stars
and the daylilies in her garden.

                                    You look pretty, baby.
The soprano lilt to my mama’s voice
made me homesick before I took the first step
on my walk to school-learning.
She had flour on her chin
from the morning’s biscuits.
When she kissed my cheek, I was lulled by her warmth
and the smell of sizzled bacon grease.

Daddy went with me most of the way.
He started his work days before the days began,
but today was my day, he said.
His drawl made me believe that.
This was my day.
He passed the lunch that mama had fixed special
                                   You’re my little Lovey.
I held his words close as I opened the door.

I perched on a splintered chair
Waiting on someone, anyone
To notice me

I had never experienced the stain of regret
Until I was duly noted and welcomed
By giggles and pudgy fingers pointing at me

My hands flew to my flushed cheeks
Triggering stinging laughter.
I looked down at my dress
Handmade, but like-new
How could they know?
My hands fell from my face
And not knowing where to look,
I turned my gaze to my palms
white with flour.
                                   Loraine Adams?
                                   Loraine Adams!
The scent of bacon dissipated with the unfamiliar shrill
of my teacher’s voice and repeated declaration
Yes, ma’am—I confirmed.
That’s my name.
                                   Why, that’s a lovely name!
Yes, ma’am—I held back the want to correct her.
That’s my name.