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

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What they saw

What they saw

was a fracture of four

or eight

kalidoscopic prisms divided

who knew how many parts constituted sum?

One

an accent, a way of holding herself, spine sharp against humid skin

the torn down dancer inside

they levied their best pipe bombs

you don’t know suffering, you don’t know duress

all your life you had it easy

they lobbed over the wall and

a part of her that wasn’t her at all

was gone.

She had so many pieces left

scattered like dried petals and torn out chunks of hair

each one held a secret

was violate for its succumbing

they had their edges of cruelty

a quota for destruction, she existed in the

erased margins, picking her way through fatigued debris

others baggage and make shift games

falling on top of her

close the suitcase

suffocate the girl

here is Wendy here is Jane.

She’s a kid again, the boys are playing

marbles on her back

later she will have a tattoo where

their game turned nasty and left its

ugly smudge of sweat

filling in the spaces of rage

with ink and screams, uneaten pain getting cold

put frills on it and you’re ready for prom.

She’s walking in your shoes, they don’t nearly fit

they’re going to hobble her run at the kitchen table at night

father carves a turkey into birthday cake

slices of trust, quarters of must, beg for mercy

dot your i’s

her mother has something in her eye

guilt, shame, blot out the voices, lock them

between your legs, don’t cut your hair

let it grow like a river until you can climb

out of your underground sink hole

here is a change of clothes, a new

language, some pennies for a fast train

felate the man who carries your bags

compensate his wife with stark widow’s stare

you’ve lost your first three turns at the table.

Fingered beneath crinoline, elastic biting inner thighs

stockings wet hanging over the rue de cremieux

as he rolls his tongue in your ear like a edible snail

you recoil and spring

down the side of buildings, a black cat is not sought

her search for cream forming on first milk of morning

kiss me with your entire mouth, till I bite my lips blue

let no words spill out, lay me down, taste my colors

fingering brail with sticky pianist hands

speak in sound

hear me now

movement is a push

then you are in

To my mother

o-mother-daughter-relationship-facebookIf I had been your mother and you my daughter

we would have learned to walk both straight and crooked

together stronger for leaning upon one another

in this motion, undoing that well rehearsed need

common among our ilk

to walk alone

learning this when those who should protect

absented or let down, spilling trust

repeating patterns before we knew how to protest

formed inside faulty mold

given no improvement or nourishment for fledgling soul

we split apart like neglected corn

ears green and burned by indifferent sun

we sought the succor of dangerous people

familiar with their welt

hid the tender shoots of us within a grave

absenting gentleness

despising love’s solace

sharpening and hardening our calloused parts

we did not recognize in each other

the need overarching stubbornness

revealed at last

when day is lower in webbed sky than it ought

but better now than never at all

we break the spell we unwind the curse

If you were my daughter and I your mother

I would have given you wisdom

found in my search to banish self-immolation

growing like a vine within our generations

disappearing women from each others tenderness

enemies from birth

I would have rolled back our wounds and discovered

the beauty of love as it lies undisturbed

on the surface of a child’s face

who trusts before she learns to ache

If I had been your mother and you my child

between us, within us, all things take flight

we are the breath of our ancestors

we are the change of their losses and the gains of their folly

supporting our footsteps toward the

female divine who, smiling though hour is late

welcomes those who were lost on their way

into feeling whole, not out-of-place

beyond sharp spaces of our regret

there is time ahead where even the damaged

heart can forget her sorrow

never too late for finding each other

as long as we breathe

there is always time to make right

disturbance turned close like moon

undoing hurt in redeeming womb