she told me

She told me in confidence that she thought she gave birth to a monster.  She looked to make sure that nobody was near; her eyes darted down and she whispered it.  “A monster.”  The odd thing is that his birth had been so peaceful that January evening.  Quiet room, dim lights, hushed voices late at night, and he just slipped out.  He just slipped out.  Absolutely no pain, it’s baffling.

She told me that when he was born he looked like a little alien.  He hardly slept for 2 years, and his hunger was insatiable.  When he cried, her heart would race and her eardrums would go numb.  She would catch him staring in his crib at things she could not see.  Stare so long, his eyes would drip water.  But he would twirl her hair when she nursed him and when she draped his warm body over her shoulder to burp him; she would feel the softness of his cheek against hers so intently, she’d fall in love with him all over again.  She’d forgive him for all those sleepless nights and all those staring fits that would leave him unsettled and clingy.

She told me that the time after he became adorable, he learned to walk.  He walked a little late.  He took to the habit of running from things that weren’t there and he would fall and scream into her bosom.  He would look up at the ceiling with a face of horror until Zonegran stopped the infantile spasms.   He said the fan blades were covered with blood.  He would see pizza on the walls and see shadows move without light.  And when they were trying to be good Catholics, he would say the inside of their church smelled like old people’s burning flesh.  But he looked so cute when he played on his wooden airplane and when he wore that adorable Janie and Jack puppy sweater; she’d fall in love with him all over again.  She’d try to forget all those odd images he put in her head and those strange things he whispered in her ear.  She tried to forget her anxiety over all the tests he had and medications he tried.  She’d try to crush the panic that would wake her in the middle of night.

She told me that when school started he had a hard time paying attention,  hit the teachers, and would play chase without their permission.  He would cry for an hour before school would start and his dad would have to carry him to the car while he put up a fight.   But he would draw her pictures and write,  I love you Mommy.   He’d ask so sweetly, “Do you want a hug?”  She’d  fall in love with him all over again.  She’d forgive all those meetings she had at the school and tried not to grow jaded when explaining his situation.  She was always explaining the situation.

She told me about one day in March when she received a phone call from the school to pick her son up early because he had lost control in the classroom.  She walked tall into the special classroom and apologized for all the books and chairs strewn all over the room.  “Really, he knows better,”  she’d say while looking in their eyes brimming with pity.   She reached for her son’s hand, walked out of the building, and made it to her car before she collapsed and cried.  She cried for 2 straight hours and couldn’t even make dinner; she was too full with sorrow.  She was exhausted and felt helpless.

She told me that he could dream of the future and have night terrors that haunted him for weeks.  He’d get up at odd hours of the night to gather and cut up his clothes.  He’d sprinkle cinnamon all over the house 2 days before Christmas because he liked the smell.  And dump baby powder all over his room because he said, “I miss the snow.”  She looked surprisingly good for being awake all that time.

She told me that when he got older, the monster in him evolved.  Taller than her – in some ways smarter than her.  He was moody and sad,  happy and mad.  Up and down he went.  Around and around he went.  He was always able to lure her into his trap.  He would even catch her eyebrow twitch and it seemed that he could read her mind before she spoke.  He was always inches from her – never far.  Circling around her – this way and that way.  Pecking at her, laughing at her, chasing her, clawing at her – this human that had just slipped out into the world.  She took to the habit of wearing long sleeve cardigans in the most humid of conditions and would think, it just isn’t fair.

And then she told me that, overnight, she became incredibly fond of the drink.  One glass at dinner, then another before bed.  She’d wake up with headaches and become so depressed that she’d wish she were dead.  Her entire being was filled with fright and even her soul, her aching soul, would mourn for it to be over.  And she felt betrayed because she asked, “Isn’t your soul supposed to be stronger?”  Traitor, she’d call it.  She said she felt empty and blank.

How much can one vessel hold?”  she’d ask.  And with every night that she went to bed thinking she was done, she’d wake up and start it all over again.  Each and every night, each and every day.  She then told me that when the best place in the nation said, “Your son is a candidate for our inpatient program,”  she was surprised to be hit by grief instead of relief.  A few moments passed and then she just stopped.

She told me in confidence that she wanted to tempt fate in a sea of aqua glass full of teeth and feel the wind rush past her face.  Witness the brown clouds get taken over by the foam.  Feel the pull toward the moon and float.  Revel in that and not talk about home.

 

night

the way he is right now

I’ve learned to walk silently across the floor 

I’m a tall, strong woman with weary size ten feet

but I’m here tiptoeing and praying not to wake the manic beast, 

the way he is right now 

The past 2 weeks were okay

how I wish that guy could stay 

the one with the kind blue eyes 

the one that copies the clouds 

in the sky

the one who speaks gentle words 

and doesn’t wish for me to die

He doesn’t mean it, they always say 

But seriously, doesn’t dawn always beckon a new day?

Oh God, what if he means it?

These are the thoughts that make me lock my door

before I attempt to sleep

thoughts that make me say that extra prayer 

thoughts that make me easily tiptoe with my weary size ten feet 

to walk silently across the floor

begging not to wake the manic beast

hidden

there’s a suitcase in the far corner of my closet

the older one with the worn brown

checkerboard pattern and a faded luggage tag

can’t make out the name any longer

not going anywhere anyway

and if I pretend

the flattened leather handle still feels warm

probably from when you used it last

back when life was happy and our souls were stronger

sometimes when things get loud

I want to place a blanket in that suitcase,

in the far corner of my closet,

crawl inside, zip it up and lie

quietly, silently

will he find me

I want to say aloud

but I don’t dare make a sound

these days, these long days

after the first door slam, I want to bolt

run far before the terror takes hold

but no

I have to stand there and take it

stand there and stand there

stand there and fake it

place my trembling hands in my pockets

ignore my heart pounding in my ears

taste the rapid beats, choke them down

why is it getting so difficult

I’ve been doing this for years

every time I enter my closet

I give that suitcase an extra glance

maybe one day I could do it

run quick when I have the chance

when I’m first warned

place a blanket inside, make it cozy and warm

crawl inside, zip it up

lie quietly, silently battered and worn

daydream

i want to sip Rose´on the deck of a yacht,

a big yacht

wear a white dress with no bra and a gold,

a very gold anklet that jingles when i walk

wear shades so dark that i can’t see past,

have them get tangled in my black hair

play tug of war with the salty air

call out to the teasing sea, “Where am I?”

have it answer back, “Does it matter?”

dive in the green, swim through the purple,

hold my breath in the orange,

inhale, count to twenty and exhale every trouble

every trouble i’ve ever had

look down at my sun-kissed arms, my perfect hands

my turquoise nails – wearing that amethyst you gave me last

listen to Frank Ocean – every syllable making me jump

sip the Rose´ and look past the crooked sailboats

imagine i’m on the other end,

the other part of the world

say, “Where is that?” and have

it answer back, “Does it matter?”

 

i go

swept away, away i go

into his vortex, trembling…

waiting for the top to blow

first on my arms, then my nose

what he does next

well, you know

whatever is loony,

the opposite of sane,

living like this…

i’m going insane

 

somebody please stop this senseless ride

i’m getting dizzy…

i want to run inside and hide

fall asleep for a thousand years and a day

a small reprieve from

waiting, pacing…

praying, trembling…

all the while being swept away,

swept away i go

 

 

what will

What will it be

the day after tomorrow

what will the punishing be

what bad thoughts

will swim and dance in his head

what will the questions be

what will cause the train

to runaway and wreck

over and over and over again

until

we scream back, “what the heck?

what words will I say in vain

and

when he thinks we’re fake

I’ll cry and spew back,

damn you, this isn’t a game!”

what more do we have to say or prove

what magic doors do I need to

go through

Please God, say the words

and

tell me what to do

what will it be the day after tomorrow

what will my punishment be

pain and pain that will last forever

Oh God,

please tell me this isn’t forever

strings

the crescendo swept me away last night

tiny violins, mellow cellos

…my friends

the ones with the low gorgeous tones

I remember how its strings felt

beneath my fingertips

first cold, then warm

left little bite marks, they did

 

that crescendo last night

I’m surprised you didn’t hear it

what’s wrong with you?

did you fear it?

that music ran me over, made me spin

tossed me into oblivion

 

 

to feel

i want to feel a lion’s whiskers against my face,

its hair flat against my eyebrows.

open my eyes to only see an amber sea.

wrap its giant paws around my neck,

much like a mighty embrace.

have its roars momentarily

deafen me, silence me,

rattle me to the bone.

have its breath take away my breath,

engulf me like a storm.

be lulled to sleep by its heartbeat

that transforms to steady drums.

dream of wild safaris,

i’m in his land now.

free, roaming,

elephants trumpeting

but the drums stop.

i wake up, no such luck, the lion is gone.

away from this

Baby girl,

I read that you wanted to run 

away from this, away from him

never me, never us

Go ahead and run baby girl

run as far from here

away from him, away from this 

Baby girl,

it broke my heart to hear you cry

sitting far from our crumbling house

our poor aching house 

we hear its moans in the middle of night

it interrupts our conversations

with its whispers of fright 

walls with holes so deep we want to crawl in

to escape this, to escape him 

Crawl in and weep for years and years 

then crawl back out to ask,

Is it over yet?”

but no one is there to answer back 

the house is empty 

all that’s left is the fear

that fear could live for a million years

when she be

 

When she be coming for me

in the wee hours of the morn

it’ll be the same as

when I had no breath

the moment I was born

 

When she be coming for me

wearing her soft gown of white

riding the tails of wind

in the blackest part of night

 

She be coming for me

the dreams foretold

left me hiding scared

under a blanket

with arms scarred up and old

 

She’ll leave the door open

as if in a trance

the zephyr will try to usher her back

I’ll whisper for one more chance

 

When she be coming for me

I’ll hear the gale swoosh down the hall

sound so deafening

you won’t even hear my call

 

When she be coming for me

her hair still wet with dew

kindness shining bright as stars

her eyes the palest hue

 

She be coming for me as

old man Winter blows in the snow

the floorboards will creak and crack

I’ll witness the last of my tears

before I have to go

 

When she be coming for me

in the wee hours of the morn

off and away I’ll be

and

when we meet again

dear one 

we’ll just have to

wait and see