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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1995 was

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long sweaters, color of grey clouds

wet wool beneath leggings and Docs

the way rain stayed in your hair and rinsed it of color

how you kept every love letter ever written

by all the little freckled girls who chased your dragon

we lay in your narrow bed

too small but small was what we were

breaking every splinter

in our roar and our mocking

you implanted a life

the telephone gave the news

my grandmother had given up pretending

perhaps the devil helped her

take that final breath

I couldn’t get a train

the rain the rain

you felt the despair of a boy who liked

the fur of drama

not the feel of fatherhood

her funeral was for two

the woman who had held me and said

what a pretty baby

when the rest backed away

like spectators unwilling to touch

and then there was the fetus

dry like a winter flower

red like a sore lover’s thighs

white like virgin snow covering

a crime

and the smell of damp

invading every corner of your room

ransacking hope

leaving in its wake

Smashing Pumpkins on low

sheets frayed and stained with youth

I did not return

you did not ask

it was accepted like an envelope is sealed

and black birds begin their fight

long after night has cast

her dark

Remember

The words that pass between them

pressing hot arms

Absolute

in funny angles

smell it on her wrist, a divinity of trivia and

rolled secrets, ready to inhale

death curling the corners

Approach

touch fevered forehead to clay floor womb

all the footsteps regressed

We are too late to undo

our indentation

it presses down

like dowel swinging thickly against undertow

will measure weight of air

and your truth

offered by word

Ask me

where is the mark?

repeated on inside wrist

past pulse, circling back upon itself

infinity you said

mine the arms wound around

soft value

memories taking form in brief coats of ice

a sorcerers palace

to divine

Remember

Forever

is no promise ever

kept

Whole

degas-woman-at-the-window-007The loon sang out of season

and she bed her reason

wetting sheets with her angst

for who among the outside world

enfolded her as you had?

they say it takes just a moment

you can never go back

there, it was that instant

when you rested in my arms

and nothing else mattered

you asked, was it the temper of day

or mood of furnishing night

but it was neither my love

it was the weight of your head

against my rising chest

which had stood dormant and empty

for as long as I breathed stale air

comprising bone fragments dry as old tears

until you came and filled me

with your familiarity and nectar

pollinating wasteland

as if that’s what I had been searching

in my wool socks with holes in

when I squinted out of the kitchen door

unevenly framed with draft leaching in

at birds picking the blossom from peas

tracing their growth, tied in rows

much like humans let themselves become

I saw the russet fox stalk out

proud and wild

he did not require straightening or string

to mold him to his burnished lament

his paws were blackened with coal

leaving indents of darkness in twilight

mocking the sobriety of obedient eyes

cloistered behind their rule books

chalky and calcified

the fox out shone even the gloom

misting the window blue

and first light

ardent and bright

looking something like you

as you turn in sleep

toward me

like a movement of

symmetry

joining emptiness

whole