Don’t have that kid

xrays-for-hearts

The therapist leaned back in her chair

light from the window framing the space in-between

“Your mother didn’t leave you now, she left you at six, many years ago

you cannot grief for, what you have never had.”

I thought of this as the clock wound its message of time

always against us, years apart, years unlearning reasons to love.

“What purpose is served in trying to reconcile when you neither know

why she has never loved you, nor what you did to cause this latest eruption

and given the certainty of it, perhaps consider, it’s the other way around, not

whole then broken, but always broken and never fixed.”

I tried to remember the last time I saw my mother. For a moment

I could not recall her face, or what she was wearing that last time

and my chest felt tight with anger at myself until it came and she

was real once more. I reached out in my mind, the way I have been

doing since childhood and tried to touch her, the image as always

grew dim and receded.

“The history as I understand it is, you never resented your mother

for leaving you at six, you defended this action when others condemned her

because you just wanted her to be happy, that was always more important

than your own happiness.”

I nodded dumbly. Silent and unable to articulate any further

response.

“She clearly did not wish to have children, that is no shame upon her,

however she did have a child and she left that child, with little regard for

that child afterward.”

I thought of the brief lunches, the walks down shopping districts, my

wanting to carry her bags even when smaller than her, a protective

fierce desire to do something, anything to win favor. How time seemed

so very, very short in those days, of fleeting moments built on years.

Want being the predominant emotion, desire for, longing, missing,

apart from, that continuation of chasing shadows.

“She had her own life.” I replied. Thinking of one of our last conversations

where she said; “Candy I don’t understand this need you have to be close

to your parents, I was never close to mine, you are an adult, you should

have your own life, when I married my second husband he became

my life. That is how it should be. We should not hold onto our parents like that

it is not healthy.”

As much as it cut me, like that metal string used to carve cheese blocks

I knew a part of me agreed with the part of her

who spoke of practicality rather than ‘duty’ and freedom over

the slavish obligation to ‘feel’ a certain way about people whom

many times we did not have connection with.

I recalled how much she disliked her mother, who was gauche, and

could not spell and only wore trousers and sensible shoes, who laughed

a lot and could sing bawdy songs and may have been unpolished

but also did not really defend her daughter against things

unbidden in the dark.

“My mother saw me as being like her mother, whom she

was not fond of. I was not the sort of daughter she would have chosen

had she had a choice, I had some things going for me, that she was proud

of, like my ability to socialize and make friends, she was always quite

cerebral and found it fascinating. She liked how I was good at gymnastics

and physical things, but my mind was not her mind, I didn’t inherit

her abilities, I was too emotional, too needy.”

“Perhaps it’s human nature to have a favorite child, to see yourself in one

of your children over another, to have preferences, but

if you condemn a child just for being different you are

instilling a life time of approbation and it seems, she was

treated very well by her grandparents who thought highly of her,

even her parents, building an ego and self-confidence, something

she never did for you, instead knocking you down, where you

didn’t have the ability to be so egocentric even if you had

tried.”

I recalled the time she told me she had never forgiven me

for my past crimes, I could not recall what they were, I do not

think she could either, it was more of a sour feeling she had

which I reminded her of, a mistrust, we both have that in

common, an inability to trust anyone, we do not sleep

sitting up, we take a long time to switch off, I found this

similarity comforting, she did not know it existed or the other

things we had in common, there were many.

“If I believed in myself as much as her, I would surely have

gotten a different response. But it’s a self fulfilling prophecy, if

you taint the ground water, the flower never thrives.”

In her garden, she grew roses, her mother grew roses too, one

Birthday I bought her many plants, she said they died because

of the weather, I knew she had not watered them, I did not

know how to reach her or please her. Lord I tried.

“She made it clear to you she did not need you or want you

in her life, she said she had not forgiven you for past trespasses

suggesting the woman who proclaimed not living in the past

held grudges from the past toward her only daughter

quite thoroughly.”

I knew what the death knell was, I knew it was a combination

of speaking out about my grandfather, her father, what he

was guilty of doing, and this, not out of malice or a wish to shame

but a desire to move beyond, to save, to love. It was the worst

idea and despite not being from a place of hate, was taken

as a betrayal, she is a lot like me, she finds it very hard

to overcome betrayal, it stays with her a long time, she

may grow used to pretending she is okay with it, but

at the back of her mind she seethes.

The second death knell was when my father, who

most of his life gave the text book definition of impartial

uninvolved, stood up for me against my mother not

wishing to destroy anyone but due to my illness and seeing

how much I had endured, thinking kicking me when I was

down was not right, he said so, and she never, ever

spoke to either of us again. My father who had lost his

brother decided this was okay because he said, life is too

short, although in truth, we were

all more than that, far more than that, our blood was shared

in a maze of snakes, I wished so much it had not come to

this place of emptiness.

“Your mother knows how to love and protect herself and that is

about it, she may feign love for others, but the truth remains

she is mostly concerned about surviving and whatever it takes

and that does not include you, never has, you are really an

after thought or something to feel guilty for.”

“I didn’t want her to feel guilty.” I said, thinking of

our conversation when she left, I am six, I sit in bed, my toys

are watching in the dark, their glass eyes gleam, she is crying

I have not seen my mother cry but maybe twice, I sense

she is on the edge, I want to help her fly, it doesn’t matter how

I feel it matters only that I save her, I tell her I love her and she

must do what she needs to. I meant it then, I mean it now, and

yet she thinks I am her enemy

which destroys me, every time I think about it, with her

father, the true enemy of us both, but she cannot allow this

truth to exist, as he is her maker, she must venerate his memory

even as he caused this breakage, even as we pay him homage in

our exile, she would choose him over me, the daughter whom

despite her belief otherwise, has never betrayed her, has never

been against her. I hear her say to me; “You must talk badly about me

as you criticize your father to me, you must equally condemn me to

him when you speak, you are two-faced, I have never trusted you.”

Words can be knives, they can be sharper than nightmares

piercing our armor, our very life blood, the sustaining force

we try to hold together with rags and pins, I wanted to scream and

say; “Please do not see me this way, you say I scared you with my

illness and you can not handle me calling upset, or afraid, yet

your husbands ex wife called regularly with just the same, you did not

banish her, and your husbands daughters did nothing of what

I did all those years, yet they are never wrong, how can this

double-standard exist when you know the truth?” My last

words; “I will always be here for you.” Asking her to speak to

me, be in my life, give me nothing but that, and she has

that power to say no, which she uses.

She would not hear because she has her version

although truth has no version only truth

I wish so much she could see how things really were

how beautiful we could be in those moments when

it worked and we laid down any grudge in favor of joy

life after all, is so short, so very, very short.

When you don’t matter to your own mother it is

hard to imagine why you should ever matter to

anyone

this is probably what I have struggled with the most

all of my life, though that is my fault for not being

stronger

feeling I am not worthy and there is no reason anyone should

want me or love me, or not betray me

I try hard, but I fail, again and again

it does not help that nightmares come true, you fear

and so it happens, she walks away, she does not

look back.

I hear her laughing somewhere, I hear her

living her life without me until one of us is gone for good

and then it will be forever too late

“She told me she read a poem I wrote years ago where

I wished that she was dead, but that was not the poem

I wrote, I wrote that I had felt the loss of

her all this time as if she were not alive, because when you lose

someone who is alive, it is worse in some ways than

when they are dead. That is what I meant, but she chose

to see it as my wishing her dead, which is the opposite

of every prayer I have ever had. As a child I would beg

the God I did not believe in, to save my mother

to keep her from harm. And the God I did not believe in

would not reply. Angered maybe that I did not, could not

believe or have faith,

in anything.”

The therapist remained silent, I knew from experience

a mixture of wishing I could just get over my goddamn

childhood and grow the fuck up, or is that me talking? Is

that my mother? I hear her voice often, sometimes she is

singing at a piano in the bar where she met my father

and I am as yet born, I go up to her, I am wearing a black

jacket and it has piping down the sides, I ask her not

to keep the pregnancy; “Take it from me lady, it’s better that

way, if you believe one thing, this is it, don’t have that kid.”

And I have a Southern Drawl which of course I have

never possessed, but how I wish she heard me and

I was never consummated, even as friends decry this, with

platitudes of; “Oh but think of the difference you have had

on this world!” Oh give me a break, none of us really matter

and if we could undo our existence, is that so bad? Is it as

wrong as taking an overdose? No, of course not, so get

over it.

I recall once she said I would

never be as talented as her and I could not write and then

I showed her my novel and she actually liked parts of it, yes

she cannot help condemning and criticizing, it is who she is;

The Editor, someone who knows and has a red pen

the very opposite of her parents, her weak mother who

did not stand up for her, her father who loved her the

wrong way, but what is wrong between blood? A lot I think.

When she liked a part of it, much as she tried to say it was

all irredeemable, I saw the surprise on her face and that

tendency toward hurting me and I felt happier than I ever

had just for a moment, before it was lost, thinking she was

proud of me. “You can’t take that away.” I shout up to

The Fates who have decided we are not to be together

in this life time and since there is no other (life time)

this is it, a separation, every day I live knowing she lives

and we are apart, it feels like someone has a hot iron

they are pressing it against my heart. Maybe it makes me

who I am, someone who cares too much, not everyone’s

cup of tea. Some people hate me on sight. Just like that.

I wonder, did she? Did she? Did she?

She said; Don’t lie about who you are,” but

we have all done it, it’s part of our fantasy, especially

if we hate ourselves, the only choice, else we’d not be able

to do anything and that was my father’s choice, one I

didn’t want to emulate, I had to find a way to function

without excuses, she couldn’t understand, she has a lot of

self faith, I had none, she abhors liars, but she lies too, only

better.

You see, I looked up to my mother

she used to say; “Never have idols, they are unhealthy.” She also

told me not to drink orange or apple juice, I did listen and

now I have no cavities, that is her doing, many things are

her doing, good things along side holes and pits. But

she was her own idol just as she was mine, so really

that’s a moot point, for a little child, watching her mother

who is always out of reach, I hear myself say; “Please. Please

don’t go away, don’t do this again.” Maybe that is

why she did, because she had the power, over me

who else would ask her to stay? Who else wants her?

Or any of us? Who? Foolishly I thought as we grew

older she would need me, that was a really stupid

thought, I berate myself, I never did predict her,

she is quite wild and untamed, a good thing, my heart

has loved her unwaveringly all these years

it has made me who I am in so many ways

good or bad, such as it is, I have grown on

a mixture of pain and loss, like a thin weed

can make life from between two stone slabs

but usually come the first flood or drought

it will be the first to

wither. She said; “You caused yourself to get sick”

I could tell her what the doctors said about smoking

during pregnancy or how my stomach has never been

okay, how can a child cause their own sickness even

before they get sick? No. No. It wasn’t me.

She is rarely sick, she has the fortitude of someone

who would will away sickness, I believe it. I try, I do not

succeed. Many times daily I speak to her in my

head just like when she brought me a marzipan frog

from a trip and I could not eat it, as it would mean

losing something of hers, so I coveted it, and she said;

“that’s so pathetic, you always do that, look now it’s spoiled and you

did not even get to taste it.” I could not tell her

“Oh yes I did, every night, when I looked at it, I thought

of you and hoped you loved me, and this gave me

so much joy, I was literally grown fat with it.”

For what they did yet not know

140829195756-22-women-in-comedy-restricted-horizontal-large-galleryYou thought it was bad when

you got your first zit

and the unblemished skin of your youth

erupted like Everest

you thought it was bad when

you got your first stretch-mark

and the smooth thighs and breasts of your growth

betrayed the camouflage

you thought it was bad when

you got your first scar

a thin line of emptiness which they said

the bikini would hide

you thought it was bad when

you sagged and you spun with weight loss and gain

in the span of twelve fevered months

and then it seemed

unimportant

because those scars

the immature loss of vanity and adulation

crying over not fitting into yourself

the lament of sudden change

was less than the stubborn plant of your feet

in survival

and you went to your neighbor

who was missing a breast

both of you shared

the disjointed humor of pain

and you went to your preacher

who had lost his testicle

he joked about being single

and you went to your park

saw women with brain tumors cut out

walking their high energy dogs

and you saw

this silly game of magazines and perfection

of I will stay 20 and flawless forever

of men who would leave when you get cut up and bleed

how it is but part of a bigger picture

that of sweat and guts and fear

and surviving through gritted teeth

even if he left because you were no longer perky and up for it

because you threw up at midnight instead of

giving him head

even if the girl at work could wear heels and short skirts

and you hid your swollen stomach behind swaths of cotton

or couldn’t get out of your bed

because then … just as everything seemed

to be wrinkling and disintegrating and rebuilding

into something unfamiliar and changed and partially incomplete

another man with light in his eyes

who didn’t care about such things

smiled at you as you walked beneath the yawning trees

because your medication said

avoid direct sunlight

and he said

I have the same problem which makes it hard living here doesn’t it?

and you talked and he smiled

and said

I like the way your eyes twinkle

and you said

I get that from my grandmother

even when she was eighty-five she was

proposed to by farmers who thought

she looked like a kind of Katherine Hepburn

and he said

I can see that

red

would you like to meet here tomorrow again?

and you saw the way the world really worked

underneath the adverts for boob jobs and butt lifts

and reality tv that’s nothing of the sort

his hand brushed yours and you saw

sunspots on both

it made you laugh

a little like a hiccuping hyena

and he laughed too

the survivors

beneath the canopy of life

snorting like five-year olds

as skinny joggers with air-brush tans ran past

with sad empty looks

for what they did not

yet know

This is a real world as it is an unreal world

I was going through the list of who I am following on WordPress with a view of clearing out people who had stopped writing on their blog. It’s sad. All the good intentions we have, all the excellent names for blogs, the ideas, the effort, where do they go?

Interestingly; I noticed that many of the people who had depression and/or feminism in their title line were no longer writing. I wondered, is that a coincidence or do things that matter but are not popular (depression/feminism) die out?

Whilst I admire those who continue a blog for years, writing faithfully every day/week/month I would also say that many of the BEST writers are those who start blogs and never continue them. I wonder where they are now? I wonder if they are okay? It seems sad to see their potential and ideas lost.

When I was sick I didn’t write for a few months here-and-there but people knew I was still around. I wonder how long it takes to not be around and not be noticed if you are not around, I wonder how long it takes to vanish or feel you have vanished?

Upon joining WP I met with a small group of writers/poets/thinkers and they were my ‘first’ friends here. What is interesting is of those, some are still my dearest friends and some completely vanished and this after professing love and life-long friendship. Of those who vanished, either into their own egos or others, they were the loudest at proclaiming such undying friendship. Had I known then, they were just saying it, I wouldn’t have invested as much time in cultivating those friendships but not everyone is like that, usually only those who speak the loudest (and I wonder why that is?).

At times I am tempted to ask some of those who never keep in touch, what happened? Where’s the love? ha ha ha! Because they were SO VERY effusive and then like a raisin in the sun they dried up and went onto greener pastures … I guess that’s the whim of the budding author for you! Yeah I met a few of those too. I learned from that fickelty though. No matter what happens, I’ll never feel too self-important for those who were there for me.

Going through the list is like looking back on the years I have written on WP and all the people I have met. I feel so lucky to have met those people, so many of them I really count as TRUE friends and I care deeply for them. Others I may not be literal friends with but I admire what they do and who they are, very, very much. We are basically, a wonderful community and I feel richer for being here.

Let’s spare a moment for those who are not here. In our WP world we have lost people. Those who have died. Those who have become too sick to write. Those who are too depressed to write. Those who are not here and though we do not know why, they are gone. Let’s think about those people we met when we first began here, the faces and voices of those who are not here now for a myriad of reasons. I for one, do not forget them. It’s a bit like first-love, you don’t easily forget your first.

Thank you to Rita, Eric, Tony, Monique, Derick and Sabrina, some of the very ‘first tribe’ who welcomed me and whom I had here on WP, for still being around and still sending your sunshine my way regularly.

Oh, and if this teaches me anything, it is to appreciate someone whilst they are here and to try to always keep writing through life’s ups and downs and appreciate the value of people coming into your life and holding you to the light.

For Paul and Cynthia. We remember you.

 

How many women does it take?

It was raining the day the movers truck pulled up

piling furniture into the back, exposed to wet streets

everything dirty and unfamiliar

when you take your safety out of its box

when you unlatch your secrets

and expose the insides of a locket

sticky mouths seek to further that exposure

until nothing of your peace remains

but the belly of your secrets on display

as if you were sitting in class without underwear

as if the abuse etched in your soul were a t-shirt

as if his fingers weren’t in the dark but had been

dipped in luminescent paint and everywhere they went

left their grimy imprint / yet you think

this horror may have been the very best thing

as wretched as exposure may taste

at least it wouldn’t be a case of disbelief

how many women does it take?

for one person to not hesitate

how many must say;

he did this / that happened / we are not okay

because of this / why do I have to prove / with gore

and soiled soul / the truth / why isn’t it sufficient that I say

why why why

did he lay a hand on me?

how many women does it take?

a juror in the Bill Cosby case disclosed the reason for his guilty verdict;

I believed he was guilty because he said he had drugged girls

hearing it from the horses mouth got my vote

are we bidding on a horse? Did you check the inside of his mouth?

what of the SIXTY women who spoke?

their voices do not warrant proof?

were people just speaking words?

to deaf sign posts stating;

move on / get over it / don’t make a fuss / why should we believe you?

one person has lied before / you must be lying / that’s our automatic default

what hope then

for one girl?

one single soul

violated in the dark

of a house when all is moved out

and she is left inside a shell, within a shell

the echoes of trucks taking memories

somewhere else

how many women does it take?

to be heard.

Anger

The therapist

she doesn’t look her age, though it wouldn’t matter

she is wise in years and that’s what counts

her skin reminds me of a Swiss lady I knew, she has the color of travel

and I trust her which is all that is needed

she asks me, why I don’t get angry

I think about where my anger has gone

after all I was an angry child

only the other day a friend’s parent reminded me

‘you were a naughty little girl, but I know it was because you were mad’

it feels like she’s talking about someone else

because I have lost my ire

that’s not a good feeling

if I had it back, I imagine

I’d rage through the streets, decrying the bad deeds of an indifferent world

but I sit quietly reading a book and the clock is ticking down the hours I am not

angry

for anger …

can be a severance, a sword, a spike

and we know that

so we tuck it, tightly to sleep

there it lays, sometimes for decades

burning a hole in our placid smile

I know someone who is angry, and they

are a short rocket full of sparks, able to go off at slightest provocation

whilst I, am measured and sensible, like a bad calculation

it gets me nowhere

because I am hurt

deeply by the injustice of little and great things

whoever told me not to be angry, that I didn’t have a right, that it was selfish or

low-brow or just plain bad manners and SHAMEFUL

isn’t here now

and I am, stuck on the wheel of sickness where they like to say

‘isn’t she calm and well adjusted to her own personal brand of hell?’

I thought strength was not letting anger get the upper hand

but i’ve been in a war without any weapons

sometimes anger is better than turning inward or, staying still

it fuels the urge to live

it leaves bruises you remember

I am angry

behind this painted mask and ironed clothes

I am a raging angry woman, with still unbrushed parts

who wants to throw the phone when it rings, out of the window, deliberately breaking glass

I am fury and it is a desire of mine

to scream until my throat is sore and beseech the skies

I am quivering with rage and if I could, I would, throttle the fates

for there is anger inside and though it is buried deep

it has a voice and that voice says

why me? why me?

(Not meant self pityingly, rather, a hard truth.)

The best of tales

I fell hard, such is the consequence of a colorful lure

Flickering in shallow water lit by hope

the world was messy, like a thirsty rag soaked with blood

still not gaining sustainence

sickness an albatross, urging me to frail edge

I had yet to learn that words can possess no value

be simply pretty things, we are misled by like Xmas baubles, turned over to reflect pattern

how can a writer realize, words can be emptier than a hollow tree?

people who write them, do so with convincing candor all enveloping like hard sales pitch

it’s impossible to believe they’re just words, without meaning, or worse, deliberate opposite

of truth, that sparten ideal, sucking ice for nourishment

when the wet ass hour comes, and it always comes

those who stay, are not those who wrote long entreaty

not the flatterers, cake-bakers, trumpet players

they are usually the last you’d believe, quiet, unobtrusive leaves coloring your floor

when your loud friends have quit you, it is they who step up and inquire

are you okay? Do you need help?

I learned this directly, as if fed by a poisoned spoon 

the ache of losing louder voices and reward of quiet ones, whom you didn’t believe cared

because you listened for the caucophany and wordsmiths who

know their trade as story tellers, so very, well

and I, who also wrote stories, fell hook, line and sinker

for the best of tales

the one where it’s all about them, and if you fall short you’re out

why it took so long to see, the value of things as they stand

plain in the rain, but firm of foot

is down to the fanciful nature I had

before damp veil was torn off and sickness

cast her long net and kept you underwater without purchase

in that drowning you learned, the only lesson worthy of a mortal

it will not be those who come, bearing gifts, cherry lipped

it will not be those who say; you are wonderful, adorable

it will be the person who seems aloof and speaks volumes

because sometimes a story teller is just that

a teller of stories without depth, milking our need 

they do not stay when you reach out, just the length of the tale

long or short, it always comes to an end and then

they go on to the next book and you are left

dangling with pretty words, tied in useless bouquet

now I don’t know what to call myself

“recovering” of some sort of fairytale lure

and in that recovery I find the simple joy 

of people without tall stories
 

This is to thank so much all those magical folk I did not know would step up and to acknowledge those who spoke loudest and did the least by way of mercy. Each to your own I learned and I grew.

 

Radiance

Do not become bitter

When friend you thought is none

When calamity strikes her skin drum

And those you relied upon do not come

The world

Is a magical place of nonsense

What you know is often undone

By the whim of mercury and emotion

Little stays as you may have assumed

But in the hour of your isolation

Witness miracles

From the trees they unfurl

Familiar in compassion

A true heart rarely demonstrative

A kindness never published

Those with mercy on their tongue

Seek no recompense

Silently they stand at your side

Holding you when others did not show

Too busy in flamboyance

For the meak shall inherit trust

It is they who need make no false promise

Sincerity is not shouted from rooftop

Actions are louder than fancy words

Seek not the grandiose, who say they love

Take instead the slowness of certainty

You know when you fall 

By the tenderness of unexpected visitor

By gentle compassion and

The companion who you never knew you could

Rely upon 

Such is the mystery of things born in hard times

And the redemption of hope

Blooming

Blocking out disappointment with her

Soft and steady radiance

This poem is for those who selflessly were there in a supportive letter or word during the hardest part of my life. Please know it was you who got me through and my gratitude cannot be expressed enough but to say your kindness was everything to me. Thank you so very much. I have learned that true goodness comes often from the least expected corners just as those who pretend to care are often just hot air.