I gather hardened scars of loss and damage Braided into keloid beauty That are not blossoms of bitterness, But fragrant beauties That make me who I am. Even the bars of your barren garden Called love could not steal away The essence of my hope. Instead, the black, barrenness within sugar syrup words Of one never able to love Contain no acid To eat away My skin of hope.
Pulled my anchor from this harbor Years ago. Yet the current pulls me back, Some irritant speck, Yet to yield a pearl, In the soul, Some rough edged Needless need chafes away Until confession is made And a pilgrimage to graves Must be paid—
There is no why to this– This steel wrought laundry list To be run down and checked through
A visit, a meal eaten At the landmark restaurant, Where new owners chiseled hieroglyphics over a history of years when the landmark lived across A narrow brick paved street And my family lived upstairs, Erasing my mother’s sacrifice Of bloody fetal tissue, My fraternal twin, On the bathroom floor there While I hung on to be born. But such bloody sacrifice Doesn’t sell cheeseburgers, Greek salads, and over easy eggs, A fairytale of family ownership- Sells well and makes for spots On reality television shows.
A drive by the childhood home, Sentimentality at its highest, Revisit the torture chamber It became— A wooden yardstick and when it broke, A metal one I had to buy to be taken Across my back by a drunken mother Until the skin broke open to bleed. . Why the drive by? Who the hell knows? When all I’d like to see Is it all disappear—
Then the statue of Christ In Hopkins Hospital lobby, a must see. Where I stood as a teen Confessing the darkest Thing upon my soul— A part of me wishing My mother had died In that surgery of fifteen hours The other part thanking Jesus she had lived.
Then the graves, To place some flowers, Talk a bit to the air, Turn my soul inside out To find it dusty and dirty again. We can think our souls clean Until turning them inside out— That is where we find the grime Of all the living done.
I visit my brothers, The man who was my real father, Then on to the man I thought was, And then my mother, The saint she was, The monster she became. At her grave, my soul aches the most, Tweezing thorns left from her old rose bushes and my own, Turning itself inside out, Leaving all the grime and dirt behind, Or so it feels.
Then on to visit with what is left of the living. And though, I love the living, There is little, so little– To charm me into staying. But the currents, the tides Of some blood element, Like an ancient memory, Bring me back From time to time.
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