Bandaged, gauze coved, blanketed-- now-- She never thought of bandages until one wound oozed infection, a malevolent fluid. Thus, she learned of cleansing wounds, bandaging them for protection, changing dressings. Twice, she thought her wound healed, scarred over, rejoicing, removed her bandage. Twice, her scar split open, infection returning. Resigned, resolving keep her bandage always, Refreshed daily, keeping infection at bay.
Pouring rain while the sun shone on a summer’s day… I will never forget that moment, that day – when I saw, without doubt, The devil’s face. A day of fun on the Eastern shore of Maryland where my mother’s husband’s one sister, the nice one, had a place, I was seven maybe eight, spending the day playing in the sand and saltwater surf, gathering treasures of shells, some broken and some whole, all worthy treasures of a child. Late afternoon, driven by hunger to the picnic tables, where the smell of burgers cooking mingled with the smell of my little kid sweat and Coppertone with which my mother had slathered me. Let me see your shells. His sister asked. I displayed my treasure trove of shells. His sister oohed and ahhed at each one. Then the sound of a slap. A back hand. Twice. Frank! Frank! His sister yelled, freezing his raised hand mid-air before he hit my mother a third time. My mother walking slowly, calmly toward me, taking my hand in her own and leading me inside the house to the bedroom where our bags were. We have to go. We don't have time to get you cleaned up. Just put your cover-up on. Okay? Nodding. I did as told. Then we walked out the front door of the house. My mother carrying our big beach bag and holding my hand. My sand bucket, shells left behind. We walked. Walked until the skin between our toes blistered from our flip-flops, cars whizzed by us. My mother’s face blossomed in bruises. It was not the first time I’d seen her wear his flowering adornments. She made excuses, falling Or walking into a wall. She had never been so clumsy before. I’d never borne visual witness to it all before, but I'd heard it when I was supposed to be sleeping. We came to the Chesapeake Bay Bridge, halfway across a cop stopped and got us in the patrol car. He drove us as far as he could. Would have done more if my mother had let him is my guess. Their talk too low for me to make out words from the backseat. The officer walked into a restaurant and bought me a coke. The sweet fizz quenching thirst. My mother drank water. The officer was trying to talk my mother into something, exactly what I did not know. I could not recognize the words buzzing by my ears. They made no sense in the string of sound they produced. My ears still cottony feeling from the road noise of the bridge, from the stinging skin sound of slaps. Then the officer tried to get my mother back into the patrol car, but she said we’d be alright. His shoulders sagged, I remember. He dropped his head and looked at the ground. Then nodded and got in his patrol car and drove slowly away. My mother took my hand and we walked again. My legs were heavy. But still we walked. My mother’s eyes focused straight ahead, and I resolved to be just as she— straightening my back, lifting my head, focusing my gaze straight ahead. We walked. Then a blue pontiac squealed by and stopped ahead. Frank got out of the driver’s seat and began talking right away. Saying he was sorry, he’d never do it again, wouldn’t we get in the car, things didn’t need to be this way. He knew a little place just up the road. Let him buy us dinner he asked. We still passed him, passed his car. Finally, my mother gave in. She put me in the back seat and got into the front seat of the car. It started pouring rain, but the sun was out. “I’m sorry about hitting your mother,” he said. “I’ll never do it again. I promise. Do you forgive me.” He looked over his shoulder at me. His blue eyes frosty, the end of his eyebrow curled up where he had pushed his hair off his forehead, the red in his hair glistening in the sunlight. I nodded my lie. He chuckled, looking out the window. “Do you know what they say about when it rains like this? Pouring rain but the sun is shining. They say it’s when the devil beats his wife.” He looked at me from the rear view mirror. My mother was silent, staring straight ahead. He moved the car forward. Then I prayed for God to allow me a mission because I knew what he looked like, I had seen the devil’s face.
shattered on the floor my favorite coffee mug nothing big, not much of a thing, just my favorite coffee mug-- sunshine yellow, with coffee beans, and a coffee spoon printed inside at the top along with a line from my favorite poem, “I have measured out my life in coffee spoons” yes, trite, you might say, emblazoned upon a coffee mug but still, yes, I loved the mug, love the poem. and there it was— shattered upon the floor there she stood, apologizing—ad nauseam— saying she’d buy another to replace it. But it was not to be found. Of course, the store didn’t have them anymore. The mug was the first broken thing. The first of a few, if it wasn’t liked, didn’t fit into the ideal of what could be forged of me if pinched in the grip of tongs and held in the fire long enough to be broken down to a molten, malleable state, pounded upon the anvil, shaped, dipped in water to sizzle cool enough to start the process over again— for easy fracture. Many things ended up broken, shelved, stored in closets— pictureless frames and frameless pictures, parts of me hidden away, never to be seen sitting on shelves in black closets— until I emerged chipped but no worse for wear unbroken into the light.
There exists no lexicon
For the echoes of emptiness here–
Where the azaleas bloom
Purple, pink, and white,
While dusty looking
Lavender sends up
As roses yield up
Open, thirsting mouths
To the sky.
Though the soil here
Nourishes color and green
While life appears
Although neighbors smile and wave,
The soil remains absent of truth, of meaning,
Of love—of a spirit—of a soul.
No lexicon exists for the emptiness
Echoing throughout the soil
In this place.
What is it that you wish to know? How someone could live with The edges of a life chipped away, Breath not taken, suffocated, Heart stilled, Walking dead Through the days of life, Just so onlookers believe The pretense they wish to see? While I, struggling for air, For the beating rhythms of life, Having lived too long inside a shrinking skin, Become petrified wood, stone, Armored in minerals. Only so close. Only so close. For I have lived years and years Of rings and more rings, All mineralized, Surrounding the core Of me. Nothing Could truly touch, Know the center. Nothing ever did Perhaps, ever will. It is easy to live As stone.
The Sunday Muse Challenge from The Sunday Muse
With my thoughts dried out,
cracking like the earth,
the seeds of some miniscule truths
take root within my chest
sprouting monstrous vines to wind down,
clawing into this cracking earth
until escape cannot be had–
the only tiny truth contained within the seeds,
the simple one of sacrifice
in the day to day.
Can’t really say how it happened.
But it did. All those years ago.
Some may say it’s a pity or a sin.
All I say is I survived.
It was the lava, really.
That’s at fault. Yeah, maybe
me, since I did let it in.
Into my network of arteries and veins,
letting it flow until it coated
I turned to stone.
I walked in skin and could yet bleed.
But, sure enough, inside—
I was stone.
I felt nothing.
And that felt good—
To be cold as stone.
No longer part of the network of humanity
Though I walked in it—
How perfect it felt
to feel inhuman,
to feel nothing at all–
At least, for a little while.
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.