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

 

 

 

 

float

Takes me back to that time,

watching it glide cross the

water, its dance with wind.

Gives me pause, slows my heart.

Old raft, it calls me in.

 

Takes me back to that time

when I marveled at how

the harlequin Danes roamed

on the in-between path

as we walked towards the foam.

 

Takes me back to that time

being rocked to sleep with

sand tangled in my hair.

My lips dry and salty,

back then I didn’t care.

 

Takes me back to that time

smiling across the fire,

when I didn’t fret so.

I just was, brought me back

to that time long ago.

reflection

I dreamt I heard the floorboards creaking

hoped you might be home

but it was only the piano again

the pedals were moving on their own

my ghostly player knows the gravest arrangements

it plays with the most mournful tones

caressing the E’s, lingering over the G’s

hear its breath during the pause

makes me grow quiet, knows how to make me grieve

causes me to get lost in my thoughts

think about when you were home last

how I miss your face, miss our family

miss everything, miss the past

the pressing of the pedals

I just can’t stand it anymore

smelling the absence, feeling the regret

I cry for my gifted spirit to stop and go away

but it only nods and continues to play

 

 

mask

she is so perfectly agreeable

with her fading eyes and lost smile

they only see her bravery

looking past her hollow words, her slowing breaths

how she longs to not be so perfectly agreeable 

yearns to not care 

get lost in her own storm 

twirl, get tangled up with the wind

and prove you wrong

cause remember, you think she’s so strong

but if you listen, you’ll hear the subtle quake to her voice

the whispery sound of her words

she’s had lots of time to practice not being heard

cause it ends so badly, her being around

so she glides around the house

without making a sound

and she’s fed up, did you notice that?

she is so perfectly agreeable

as her antsy soul waits and waits to be born

but she wants to get lost like her smile and fading eyes

till she is no more 

gracefully, forcibly

yet unnoticeably slip away, but even in that

she would be so perfectly agreeable

help

you know more than what I’d tell a friend

privy to the situation you are

my business of

waiting hopelessly for my heart to mend

knowing this problem is just a drop in the ocean

but it keeps coming down like a wave

taunting, waiting for my spirit to cave

how I wish you’d help him

Come on!

help me, rescue us already

just dive in the ocean and swim

she’ll be right

Please forgive my wandering mind, but I want to go to Australia.  Forget about the long flight, and watch the kangaroos with their dangling arms cross the street.  I want to smile at the way they say my name, Sheila.  Have an old Aussie take my scarred hand  and whisper, “How ya goin’ luv?”  Nod back.  If you only knew.

I want to go to a place where I can drink wine at lunch guilt-free.  Tour a vineyard near the coast and dream about buying an old villa.  Befriend the locals and whip up a mean spaghetti alla carbonara.  Watch my prosecco sparkle in its glass, and toast to the year I never had.  Listen to them laugh and think.  Isn’t this nice.

Go to a place where I bow to show respect, and I’m admired for being tall.  Drink loads of green tea and feel uber-relaxed because of all that L-theanine.  Touch the translucent screen with my fingertips, close the shoji.  Slip in the futon and sleep like never before.  Learn how to play the shakuhachi and delete the Deuter station on my Pandora.  I don’t need your music anymore.  Be so relaxed that I’ll defy gravity, so I’ll float and swim in the clouds.  And I’ll feel sorry that you can’t join me.

Go to a hidden forest and have the moss stain my vision green for days on end.  Hum the song “The Misty Mountains Cold” as I walk around for hours in sacred silence.  Go for a month-long stay in Bora Bora.  Be greeted with fresh pineapple, and then graciously tell them that I’m allergic to pineapple.  But I’ll dream of eating pineapples when I sleep over the water and grow delirious with their sweetness.  The glass sea will be so breathtaking that I’ll forget how to cry.

Go to a red house with a pink door bathed in sunlight.  Walk inside, leave the door open, and not faint when I marvel at its beauty.  Flowers will adorn the counter and tabletops.   Heavenly bulbous flowers that would make the Queen of Hearts jealous, or at the very least, she’d want to know my secret for growing such massive flowers.  I wouldn’t tell her though.  She’d have a tantrum, but I would only laugh.  She wouldn’t; she couldn’t ever phase me.

I want to walk through the house, and run my fingers along the patched gossamer blue walls.  I’ve missed you.  Smell the lavender you sprayed a moment ago.  Hear the cardinal that always pecks at the door.  Poor thing, he’s confused, because the house is red.  Notice how much the carpet of pink around the pool has grown.  Wonder how the flowers fell so gracefully in the laps of the worn ballerina statues, and I’ll admire their patience.

Please forgive my wandering mind; I just want to be hopeful.  It’ll be different this time.  I close the pink door and pray.

mercy

please forgive him,

he does not know what he is doing

and will not understand

not ever, even if explained

a thousand times a thousand times

can I even call them crimes?

please forgive him,

he is always sorry afterwards

after the fury,

after the torment, after the pain

after the harm, after the hurry

after the anger scurries

when the sadness buries

he says, “Please forgive me!

and asks, “Does God forgive me?

without hesitation,

without looking at him, I reply

“Yes,  He forgives you.”

and I do too,

I always do

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.