The smell of alcohol and burnt flesh

filled the kitchen air

I glanced at the long thick

piece of iron that laid calm

on the blistering red stove.


I was next in line

to endure the pain of

friendship and brotherhood

as I took my shirt off

and the crew inspected my chest.


The fear that boiled inside me

overwhelmed my head

with unthinkable thoughts of

pain and sorrow that made

my heart beat faster and faster.


All eyes were on me

as the hot iron was removed from the stove

one person held me from behind

the other pushed the scorching iron

deep into my left breast.


What only lasted two seconds seemed to last for an eternity

the sweltering brand melted the skin

layer after layer off my chest

just over my beating heart.


The shape of a hook

which stood for pride and secrecy

sat dark and blistered

rising above the skin

like the moon at midnight.


The agonizing feeling of regret

made my heart sink heavy inside

I now know what it feels like

to bare my own Scarlet Letter

bound upon my chest.