I’m sitting in a linoleum room with ghosts, specters and occasional stranger
a girl with long legs like a foal, is pulling elastic pink lines of gum from her full mouth
and snapping them back, loudly
I wonder if I have ever sat so evenly in a chair, if I ever had peach hair, light on my skin like that
it reminds me of my friend who competed in gymkhanas, we made up our own horses, hers was called Mars and mine, BeTwix and we ran
so fast our hearts thundered up her grandmother’s hill in the La Roque-Gageac
her legs were like those of a foal, even at eleven, the waiters watched her with wet lips
I think of The Object Of Beauty, how Liv Tyler gleamed, coming out of the oval swimming pool
What men must think when underage girls begin to fruit.
My ghosts routinely tell me, I am without worth, they remind me if I had anything worth having
my mother wouldn’t be absent
a life time of inadequacy, wouldn’t be my legacy
I disappoint myself, not just the ghosts, sometimes I think
I don’t belong in this American world, where women are proud to work sixty hour weeks and go the gym at 9pm
still feeling they haven’t worked hard enough.
I think I am forever running in the Nouvelle-Aquitaine, with my imaginary horse
watching a girl turn into a woman, aware of too much even then, and not enough
the specters mock my lack of confidence, whispering in my detached earlobe
nobody likes a wuss, confidence is the American calling card, haven’t you noticed?
Even silly people and indifferent people get somewhere, if they believe in their
silly people and indifferent selves. And brilliant people, who doubt, will fester
like a ring someone lost in a river, glitters too deeply for marbled birds to
pluck it out and restore to light.
I lost a ring once, you’d given it to me when we were 14 and I didn’t have coltish legs
or peach fuss on my skin, but rather, the strong bones of a kid who drank milk with her cereal and got a stomach ache
reading Asterix at the pine breakfast table, with her stuffed toys.
I can still hear the plastic clock and hum of the washing machine
a warm symphony of my childhood, as I delayed leaving for school
and the inevitable crush of humanity, I had long decided was not for me
in fact, my trajectory was so far from that world of push and pull
competition and attention, fan fare and nose-pick small talk
I inhabited the after school hours like an addict of one
rejoicing in the quiet and empty spaces where
my mind could roam and gallop
sometimes I would sit on the roof tops of outdoor storage buidings
eating my soggy paper bag of sweets, stuck together from being
crunched in my pocket, head stuck in a book about
beautiful places with kind people and fantastic things
wild roses growing like thoughts from arching cracks
in concrete, their soft heads and sharp thorns
not the decapitated baby bird, I buried beneath the acorn tree
its silvered blind eyes, swollen and bulging
wings pressed like cries of regret for having never spread
something horrifying in everywhere you looked
like the terror you feel when you realize you are truly alone.
That kitchen clock would change day and month
but never really the precision of its emptiness
I learned it is better, to rely upon fantasy and avoidance
than the pinch and grope of society.
Often, a stranger would ask
why are you playing outside so late?
I would run away into the eclipsing shadows
behind the corrugated iron fences that separated
the good neighborhood from the skeletons
those bombed, bleached, bones of former homes
where a kid of twenty years ago had lain
watching paper airplanes cycle
above their head, clutching something with glass eyes
and faux fur, as I still did
funny, to find some comfort in the inanimate manufacture
my toys looked at me in the darkness and spoke
words of love, I needed to consume
their salty fur held
the cups of my early disenchantment
when teachers commented on my red eyes
I said; hay-fever and they believed me
because I wore a dragon tail
this was surely an adjusted child
with avid imagination
cantering alongside her friend
with the honey colored hair and long bare arms
absorbing sun like a shining fruit
I knew then how different I was
how quiet pain, how loud silence
my mother always looked so beautiful in
floral dresses with her trim ankles and long neck
I, the stranger behind her
admiring and shameful in her artlessness.
it was among the lost in forest, I claimed my place
when first love failed, when promises became
paper envelopes containing no letter
dishing out school diner and homework
leaving my scuffed shoes at the door
into the ivy
away from the party
a reflection I see of myself
gathering stillness like a blanket
she is fetching her best smile
for the emptiness of years
staring into emulous clouds, watching
for signs and miracles and unspent words
the sound of others laughter
rinsing through tall green shadows
like echoes of
someone else’s life
7 thoughts on “Only child”
I find here such echoes of being an only child, the curious solitude of it, the pain of it, and the need for it, and the escapes into other worlds.
This was wonderful. I loved following your images.
Reblogged this on cabbagesandkings524 and commented:
TheFeatheredSleep – Onlyness, complicated
A powerful and evocative piece, You write so vividly and openly of Childhood memories. I love the image of a ring lost in a river. Wonderful use of metaphor. A great read.
Wow Candice. Your words always stir such beautiful emotions within my breast. Thank you for that.
Marvellous imagery embellishing such clear nascent memories
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