Red Mary

hemofgarmentThey said

she’s a sinner

that red Mary

she’s got shadows in her soul

everyone’s done a wrong

what’s yours?

she couldn’t recall a sin she committed

though many done against her still

showed in bad light shining as scars will

what constitutes a sin?

not picking up a fallen book or

neglecting the heart of an aching soul?

not burying a bird nor preventing its death

sailing into glass as you ate your day

she’d let

the dinner burn accidentally making snow flakes for the windows

she’d been too tired

to scrub the tile in the bathroom before the guests arrived

she’d given herself the bigger helping on occasion

but more often than not she made room for the needs of others

cramped with heads on her lap driving in the car

give an inch take a mile convert to metric lose measure

what comes first? you?

she knew she hurt herself when eclipsing

and if that was a sin

she was a sinner plenty

scratching charred lines of dislike across herself

like a map plotting direction with blooming red pins

but lord if that is a sin

to turn and bear our fangs within

when the world is full of clamoring snake oil salesmen

hawking their false wares

building temples for closed gods

telling children who are raped

no you cannot abort this is gods wish

then she was a sinner of the very worst sort

for her belief was

those who are without blemish don’t exist

but some of us are good

not living under the almshouse for the spiritually impoverished

she didn’t know what it meant to

live in sin be born to sin

she felt sin was a choice

you made or did not make

and she did not choose

to sin except

by laying in bed reading

on Sunday listening to

the vowels of the faithful

herding their flock

IF

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If depression were a shadow

when it is my shadow

waking me up with glass behind my eyes

replacing authentic feeling with

stifled, muffled, agonies

depression tells me; don’t get your hair cut

the hair dresser will stare too hard and you cannot

bear to be scrutinized as your father who called you

many things like plain-faced and ungainly but most of all

stocky leading to a starvation worthy

yes that father who because of his own mental defect

could not really stand long in the sun of parenthood

you’d have been better off loose and lopsided

with latch key children

to climb dog piss stained trees that barely held your weight

as they pushed through concrete with white pealing hands

as city green must

an effort make

we would chew on wild rhubarb, give ourselves stomach aches

eat dandelions and wild plums and share a precious few

hard-boiled sweets sticky in our pockets

some turned our mouths the color of tar

behind the corrugated iron where bombed out houses

stand like disfigured moments

collapsing in tombed neglect

we chased skinny wild cats and built fluttering camps

fortresses around destruction and sadness

something I learned to carry inside

when I sought to travel far from the city

its anonymous bricked faces

lending little grace

when I said goodbye to prefab family who

had their own lives

I was an appendage

needing to find my tribe

instead inheriting faulty DNA

tingeing my wake with sorrow

much as I tried

even on the warm days I wore leg warmers

pretended to be auditioning for FAME

when I ordered a hot chocolate and watched curling waves

change sequined shoreline in slow swell

though the world amassed around me

glorious and glittering like water touched by fire

as bleating sun dipped low against horizon

I could not find a way to feel unburdened

or climb aboard the impulse to slough skin

care nothing of what others would say

try hard as I could to become

laughter

that ephemeris

out of reach … thing

Children with no reflection

girl-fishingMy feet were always too big for vintage shoes

granny said

girl you’re outgrowing your ancestors

measured my 1980’s girth with pokered face

disgracing corselet historians with modern gait

I never was the black-eyed-girl of my father’s heart

his own ungainly DNA bore him a chip off the old block

who knew his self-loathing would rub free like lint

on the broad shoulders of imperfect kin

you’ve no delicacy in your frame girl

your hands are too wide for these kid gloves

you cannot fit into the stays and confines of the past

where did you come from? changeling?

half and half in one world and the next

part girl part boy part aberration an inverse

it was easier to steal a pair of dungarees

climb the old knobbly willow tree

dropping apple pips in indigo pond

a disappointing girl with one eye patched lest it wander

I saw my delicate mother and her child’s form

rush like a dancer into applauding future

gone from those who would love her best

she left a horse hair brush that smelt of her skin

and I did not know what to be

standing there with my unliked shell of pallor

a mockery of fallen relations between two lovers

retreating to the verge of attention their child

I waited until nobody expected me home

muddied, stained and bramble scratched

children with no reflection

if you asked me then whom I loved the most

I would have pointed to the owl

grand in his luminous white feathers

for he saw the little girl’s disappointment

and together they sang

low into night

to beckon timorous vole

closer