December

The bells of the church rung

He said it’s why he didn’t turn back

That and blossom in the thimbling trees so early

He believed in signs and symbols, so did I

Before I was grown and knew the torn things inside

He was the boy who learned on me

I gave what I could, but kept two things to myself

My secret was, I wanted a child

My sin was, letting him take you back

Standing fighting at the top of his marble stairwell

Smelling of his mother’s perfume and congealed cough sweets

I saw myself falling, pinwheel, before he cast me down

The imprint of his reedy hands, a daisy chain around pale throat

His child in my swelling belly, with eyes the color of regret

He said it was an accident, I felt his hate as I lost my balance

Jabbing me in the back with whisper and sharp intention

Get it out, get it out, get it out

He didn’t know the truth of us, my child and I

She wore silver bells around her neck

And in his mother’s sea blue bathroom of mirrors

I stood watching the rapture of your being, take me over

And in the night, your father tried to tear you gone

With his thrusts into me like a spear and a blunt knife

Still my child you held on

Staring through my eyes at me when we were alone

I could hear everyone’s comments before they spoke

If you have that man’s baby, you’ll be shunned

And alone was really alone. Still I thought

I am not a warrior, but I would fight for you, daughter

Quickening in me like a secret slipstream of language

I felt our connection, you were more than blood and sinew

I watched my burgeoning figure, as I removed my clothes

Thin and narrow, except where you were taking form

Stepping into the bathwater, I felt something cry and give way

And the bath became blood

Hot water on, with the door closed and locked

Your father saw water running on the tiles in the hall

All pink and gorgeous

He broke the door down and saw me sleeping in gore

All pink and gorgeous

In the hospital they whispered words of relief

She’s so young, so petite, it was a mercy and a blessing

Any more blood and she wouldn’t have made it

They didn’t see your father’s fingerprints or where

He cut you out with the slow deliberation of an absent butcher

The whoosh and hiss of hospital machinery

The soft whisper of pretty nurses shoes sliding on lino

Your father watching over me, the violence still marked on his face

When we got home, the taxi driver said; take care you goofy kids

Your father dosed me with pain killers and turned his raging back

I saw the emploring milk leaching from my breasts for you to drink

And it was red

I felt the sting of your vanishing scraped dead from myself

My stomach still swelled with your ghostly outline

Your father moved in his wrath lain sleep and mounted me

I said; I’m hurt, it’s too soon, oh God!
But God refuses sinners and pearls

You were gone so you could not speak too

And your father dove into places raw, stitched and mourning

With his eyes closed he imagined nothing and saw nothing

With his fists closed he rose above me in darkness like a wraith

Not touching the spilt evidence of you

Not realizing he was slick with blood and tears bound in a girl

Till morning when he washed you off and with it, me

As I lay in the stained bed with my nightdress hitched around my wrung neck

Feeling the milk in my breasts, the wetness of your ever spending

Feeling the tether from you to me and back again neverending

Your father went on to conquer worlds with a rod

A rich man with the same long fingernails and sharp soul

He calls me once in a while

Tells me I’m still beautiful

And if I saw him, he would bring harm

So I keep us safe and I see no one

As we sit on the balcony and I imagine

You’d be tall and you’d be beautiful like climbing honeysuckle

Because you are my daughter

We raise our glasses to your December birthday and 27 years

And your father he cannot attend our moments together

He may hurt us again, he may seek to take you away

He stays in his apartment in the city and grows richer

On weekends he chooses whores that look like I did

When I was just a young girl

With hair down to my bottom and no breasts to speak of

He had me before I ever menstrated so we thought

You could not exist

It was true, you did not

Home from the hospital with a pad of loss between my legs

But that was a fall I can still feel in my displaced bones

Seeing the future with each tumble, seeing his fists open and close

Alone now and you have been dead 28 years almost

And I light a candle

For what I was not meant to have

Though I would have loved you so

And I do

You speak to me when I sit by myself and the night is quiet

You tell me not to be lonely though it is impossible

I smile at you because that’s what mothers do

Spare their children

Any pain

20 thoughts on “December

  1. Candice, you have written of this before and every time you return (as with such grief, one must) you go deeper, find more, and with the alchemy of a poet infuse unbearable pain with raw beauty of expression and bring the reader into the moments as lived.

  2. I wasn’t expecting to get emotional, but it’s hard to know what will cause one to tear up when writing is heavy, raw, real, sad, and packed with heartache.
    “I watched my burgeoning figure, as I removed my clothes
    Thin and narrow, except where you were taking form
    Stepping into the bathwater, I felt something cry and give way
    And the bath became blood
    Hot water on, with the door closed and locked
    Your father saw water running on the tiles in the hall
    All pink and gorgeous
    He broke the door down and saw me sleeping in gore
    All pink and gorgeous
    In the hospital they whispered words of relief
    She’s so young, so petite, it was a mercy and a blessing
    Any more blood and she wouldn’t have made it
    They didn’t see your father’s fingerprints or where
    He cut you out with the slow deliberation of an absent butcher”
    And angered, I became angered. Good writing does this–it pulls emotions out of us. Candice, you are a master at that. *big hugs* It’s all I have.

  3. I cannot stop crying. My tears steam as they roll down my face. Candice, you are the one for me–the one poet who reaches farthest into the pit of me. You beautiful soul, I love you endlessly. ❤

  4. Candice, so so so much love to you. This is an incredible expression of emotion, honesty, and conflicting thoughts and experiences. Such a Self-honoring act to make space for all of it. Thank you. Blessings. ~Debbie

  5. I’ve said it before and I’ll continue to say it I think as long as we both live. You are magnificent. You can take something as tragic as this, and show me such beauty in the way you can tell it. As my heart bleeds over and over and my eyes well up in tears…I can not help but say to myself “she is so damn beautiful” The power you deliver here is beyond description. I love you so much…and understanding that you have been through something so very traumatic as this only reinforces my opinion of you Warrioress. You are such a wonderful mentor, to me, for strength of heart. I’ve been dealing with some emotional anxiety of my own over the last few weeks. And despite how much I have written about strength and courage…I have been vastly without it lately. My heart was having trouble saying the words “I’m not ok with the level of panic I’m in!!” Then I am reminded by brave souls such as you…that I can deal with what is troubling me. I can face down this chaos in my life and tell it, “NO! YOU WILL NOT KEEP ME FROM BEING HAPPY” I believe I can do it…but sometimes my mind forgets that I can. Your shining spirit in these dark times helps me remember.

    I love you, Candice. ❤

  6. You move me to tears & leave me at a loss of words. What can I say that already hasn’t been said better? To echo what Eric, Kindra, trE & et al. have said, you truly are magnificent! You just need to be reminded of that at times ღ

  7. Wow, there is such raw brutality and honesty with this piece, Candice. You never disappoint in taking me to the core of my emotions when you put it all out there. “Feeling the tether from you to me and back again neverending” this line was the tender bit, the undying love between a mother and a child. Just precious, my dear friend! ❤

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