Detach from it all,
All that held her down,
Sandbags of what others wanted,
Needed, expected her to be.
Cutting loose and through
Tentacles of veins and arteries,
Strangling ropes of memories.
The things she could never be-
Mary, The Mother, to wash you clean
Before placing you in your tomb;
A variant of some second coming
To cure you and cleanse you of sins;
The perpetual penitent
To beg forgiveness from you:
All these she will not be.
From these things you wanted her to be,
She detaches, though she wears
The scars of the floggings given her
By those who accuse her, blame her
For not being enough—
The scars waxen now melt
In the warmth of her detachment.
Though you call her cold, emotionless,
When she detaches from those who
Bleed her life away,
When she rises
From beneath the ton of stones
You place upon her chest
To stop her breath,
Freed from the stone,
You should have gotten yourself a dog.
No, really. I mean it. Instead of chasing me
Until you caught me.
What you thought you’d found,
When you found me—
And that’s what you wanted me to be—
A rescued dog—
Full of gratitude and loyalty for the perceived rescue.
With no record or memory of previous owners,
Ah, an extremely important part.
A wagging tail at every word or look from you.
Sitting at attention, waiting patiently for you.
Desperate for any command you should happen to give.
Dutifully complying with each command, each wish
You should ever express.
No friends, no family, no loves. No needs
Other than you and to serve you.
That is what you wanted
That is what you needed—
In your own words—
To be my number one at all times.
After all, no one would love me better.
No one would give me a better home,
As you so lovingly liked to remind me.
Next time get a dog.
She’ll feed your ego better.
I dreamed of you the other night.
A dream in color and complete.
We both know I rarely remember dreams.
But this one I awoke from—fresh
With that it felt so real feeling.
Imagine my surprise
when I realized
this dream hadn’t dripped from reality.
We sat, it seemed, at some café
In Dallas or Houston,
Or perhaps, we were strolling
The streets of Provincetown,
Walking across the Golden Gate,
Hiking some trail up a Colorado mountain,
Riding the subway of Manhattan,
Driving the traffic jams of Baltimore or
Los Angeles. Perhaps, we watched the whales
Out on the Pacific or maybe it was the Atlantic.
For in the dream, the background shifted like
A chalk drawing on the pavement in a rainstorm,
The colors bleeding, fading, sliding into one another
The way we used to do.
The place doesn’t matter, in the grand scheme
And all, of any such dream.
You talked away as you always did,
Leaving me no room to breathe
Or even catch enough air to say a word,
Squeezing the freedom from my soul.
Your eyes glowed, shining sapphires with no rain.
Your golden bleached hair blowing wild in dream wind.
Your words twisted, tangled in on themselves,
Doing a contortionist’s dance,
Snaking their way into my ears and on toward
The inner working of my heart and brain,
Slithering under the door to my soul.
Once there, your words tried to bite away,
Injecting some poison into my heart, my brain, my soul
To twist me into saying all the things
You wanted me to say–
All the things your ego needed—
Like that oppressive August afternoon
When you argued nonsense to get me to say
I was to blame and beg to stay.
I never knew a slither of words
Could slide and twirl so many ways
like those ribbons of a gymnast, circling this way and that.
As you saw a snaking pattern wasn’t working so well,
I watched your frustration rise.
Your back straightened even more so.
Your eyes narrow almost microscopically,
Your thin lips disappear completely.
I woke then, laughing.
I think I startled my dog.
I laughed again—
To think the last few days I had been missing you—
To think I had once thought you beautiful as a goddess–
Even wrote Botticelli and Byron got it wrong.
Now I see Medusa
When I think of you.
It’s a bloody wonder I, myself, am not stone,
But the well of my hope is another matter.
Belief needed in the moment–
See diamonds, rubies, sapphires,
Gold, treasures to cherish.
Let the mirror reflect
The lies to eyes
In needing desire.
Do not hold them in harsh sun.
To withstand such blazing light.
Gently bury them deep
Beneath the soil
Of a needing heart
And the damp decay
Of foolish wants.
Let the lies take root
Growing into the very soul.
We tell ourselves,
The truth at bay,
As the lies grow
The rot of hopelessness
Into our very souls.
You, your perfume, Or something in the scent of you Clogged my nose, My sinuses, My bronchial tubes With fluid like cement, Leaving me no air To live on.
Really, suffocation Never felt so sweet.
You were warmth personified Like fire you fed on the oxygen Whenever you wanted, Wherever you were. But God, it felt like heaven To warm myself near your flames. Until it felt like hell And I burned in the flames, Sucking in nothing but smoke.
Time broke, And you were there, Black and white upon a screen, Seeming to tumble In time to the thump, thump From a machine.
Time split in half, And you were there, Barely a teen, Trying on a mountain of jeweled dresses Frowning and sighing. Finally smiling After reluctantly putting on a dress I asked, “Just try it, please?”
Time shattered, And there you were, Clattering down the hall, Your tiny toddler feet In my size nine heels.
Time wrecked, And there you were, An adolescent sleeping, Lips parted, A fist clutching a beloved stuffed bunny, So grown, yet so tiny still.
Time crumbled, And you were there In your toddler car seat, Sobbing, fat toddler tears For we had no food To give the homeless man on the corner. So, we drove through McDonald’s and bought a meal for him. Your tears stopped. You smiled as I handed him the meal. But the incongruity of your toddler voice admonished, “Next Sunday, after church, we need to buy a healthy meal And bring it to him. McDonald’s isn’t healthy to eat all the time.”
Time exploded, And there you were, Sitting in a swing, hands reaching for the sky; Crying in my arms, heart breaking for the first time; Laughing on Saturday morning, maple syrup running down your chin; Praying the Lord’s prayer in church, brow furrowed in toddler earnestness.
Time coalesced, Healing its broken, Shattered, Split, Wrecked, Crumbled, Exploded Self.
Time mended, Leaving us broken In its wake To find ourselves— Mother, aged And daughter, grown To know each other Again.
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