gone and back again

moss tangled, lingering down their branches

beautiful, flowing ribbons of brown

rows and rows and rows of them

massive nest of that moss

ushered us out of the state

while the giant water storm

she spins and waits

 

coming back those tangled masses of feathery moss

looked more like decapitated heads

with their dried blood

and muddy footprints all around

the wind beaten ground

evidence that they fought

proof that they tried to run

a far cry from the trees we left behind

the ones with the beautiful crowns

standing tall, waiting for the change

caused a flood of memories to rush back to me

overwhelm me

made me not want to return to my sunshine state

but

we did and here we are

44 hours we spent in that car

back to this

back to the same

break due to Irma

 

Sorry for my absence.  We ended up having to evacuate our home in South Florida due to   Hurricane Irma.  The first day we drove to Valdosta, Georgia.  What should have been a 5.5-hour journey turned into a 12-hour drive fest on back roads to avoid the “real” jams on the Turnpike or 95.  From there the plan was to go to Birmingham, Alabama but Irma changed her course and wanted to follow us.  So, last-minute we decided to trek to Richmond, Virginia to visit family.  We spent another day in the car – this time 15 hours.  In the wee hours of the morning, we would see cars piled into rest areas – I assumed the occupants were sleeping.  We continued past and didn’t arrive at our destination in Virginia until 3 am.

My beautiful autistic son with Type 1 diabetes, epilepsy, and mental health diagnoses was given an emergency prescription of Geodon to get us there safely.  We only had one major behavior “hiccup.”  (We also had a car accident, but that’s a different story.)

My son, stressed because we had to leave our house and stuck in the car, decided to whip my head back a few times by grabbing my hair.  I’m driving, of course, and my daughter, trying to shield my head, almost had her arm broke trying to protect me.  We were, thankfully, going through a city, and I was able to pull over for safety.

Long story short – I’ll spare you the miserable details, or I’ll write a pretty poem about them later, we are finally back home.

Debris to clean up, hurricane shutters to take down and food to buy is what the next few days hold.

Our coast was spared this time, praise God!

break

red chameleon beckoned me out 

entranced me with its glossy glaze

matched the blood that fell from me

walked past the broken grill

with the torn black cover

said hello to the baby leaves 

and

let the purple tendrils wrap themselves 

around my knees

“Stay with us forever!”

I pretend to hear them plead

What beautiful, caring creatures – I think 

look up at the black

feel the moisture run down my back

marvel that it’s too humid to even breathe

watch the red chameleon crawl into

a place that I cannot go 

we all can’t be Alice that gets to fall

into that glorious rabbit hole 

look away – rip my eyes from its gaze

feel the purple tendrils unwrap their grip

from my knees 

go back into my crumbling house

ignore their saddened stance

ignore their fictitious pleas

birth

that foam hung around for a long time

this time

tickled my arms

tickled my nose

so I couldn’t breathe

reminded me of that time long ago

I held my breath when I was born

held it so long

that they told him I died

and

when he told that story

it was the only time

I ever saw him cry

panic

the panic waits till I’m asleep

lifts me from my unstable trance

to remind me that I need to feel it

that panic echoes in my ears 

“Yes, Sheila, you’re going to feel it.”

 

makes my heart jump and skip 

as I peel my shirt from my chest

start chanting prayers 

visualize where he’s at 

start covering him in prayer 

imagine angels by his door

his sleeping body under its wings 

 

tell the panic to leave me alone 

let’s go back to that unstable sleep

then tomorrow I’ll feel it, I promise 

“Yes, Sheila, you’re gonna feel it.”

home

big stream of little tears 

hands shaking off 

massive fears

the grieving left

but now I’m waiting 

for it all to come back to me 

God – please don’t let it

come back to me

let the child that I now see

stay forever 

i welcome a miraculous mystery

duty

this beaten down shell of a woman 

the one with the grandest dreams 

grew tired of seeing her shadow at the bottom

and

let the violins lead her out of the water

to take a walk under the August sun 

 

unafraid to 

journey for days on end without sleep 

burdened with thirst but not take a drink

until that duty called her back in 

to cut her feet on those flawed, broken shells 

back in to swim with the eels

back to the that beaten down shell of a woman

like me

can’t

 

I can’t even enjoy the rain anymore.

I’m always pacing, reaching for the door. 

I can’t even savor my meals anymore.

I’m always eating while standing; 

hurriedly chewing and choking. 

I can’t even stand my showers anymore.

That water hurts my burgundy 

striped shoulders.

I can’t even stand to stand anymore.

The gorilla on my back just keeps 

getting older. 

I can’t even love my words anymore. 

They just sit here pretty like, 

as a constant reminder that 

I just can’t anymore.

 

 

 

past

rusty gate called me in

off that weed infested path

lined with the statues your aunt made

all those Raggedy Anns and Andys

with their red button stares and permanent smiles

creeping me out, but you loved them

 

open that rusty gate – hear its exclamations

wipe my hand on my thigh, watch the orange dust fly

walk barefooted on the gravel

feel the stones pierce my flesh but

my strong child self doesn’t cry

look to my left over the fence

see the lightning bugs emerge

pray one lands on me – it’ll give me luck 

 

walk into that darkened house

tiptoe around all the statues on the floor

look past their frozen happiness

sitting on the tables, waiting around the corner

stay brave with all their eyes on me

turn around and suddenly wish to leave

the house is just too eerie

 

run outside, ignore Raggedy Ann’s glare

close the rusty gate – hear its low moan

think, I’m too young to care

dash to play with those fleeting lights

and when you ask, “Did you have fun?”

I’ll pretend I didn’t hear you

walk past and embrace the fading sun