fear

I think back to one Halloween—thirty-eight years ago, while walking
through the woods and talking about candy and mud pies—my little
sister and I were chased by a man on a motorcycle. We cracked the
sticks beneath our feet with the weight of frenzied confusion.
We jumped over streams of murky waters, leaving all the tadpoles
in our wake. In fear, I ran so fast, I left my terrified sister
begging for me to wait. All I could do was pray that my sister would
be able to keep up, stubby legs and all. All I did was look back and scream,
 “Stephanie, run faster, please keep up!”
Now, as a much bigger me, I feel less like a coward, but I sometimes
awaken in the darkest part of the night. I’ll freeze and shake, like a
thawing statue, thinking my son woke up in a manic state again. I
become like ice, frozen with fear. In this, fear is clear. It sees right
through me to magnify every flaw, and everything going wrong. It’s in
the dolls and horrid images that haunt me until dawn.
Ever since my son’s diagnoses, fear continues to take me into the
future to exhaust my days. It’s the lack of progress, no growth, it’s my
wasting away. Fear is the attempt to take the pain from a loved one
even when you know they’ll never be the same. It’s a first cry facing life
and it’s in the last breath facing the unknown. It’s in every syllable
against deaf ears with violence and shouts begging others to hear. It’s
in the static lost in translation and in those distant, muffled cries. It’s the
thoughts of tortured souls right next door and in the ghosts that have
lost their way home.
With the arrival of Halloween, I find myself reflecting about
that day long ago when we wanted nothing more than to be and to play.
Think about how I was the protector, I was like Sheila the Great, but I let
fear dictate another fate. If I could do it all over again, I’d stop and wait.
Plant my feet in the muddy waters, before the ledge of rocks we had to
climb. Take Stephanie’s small hand in mine and declare,
“Fear, you’re no friend of mine.”

friday

the beach was littered with red that night

near the end of September

the sun was mourning the end of its reign

the fact that he’s so blazing here year-round

was little consolation

he gave himself a pity party

I just remained and enjoyed the constellations

rage

I wonder if the Hulk ever hit his mother.

Did he ever graze her cheek

with his massive green fist so fast,

so hard, she couldn’t speak?

Throw her out of his room,

out the window, out of the house?

And I wonder if when he returned to normal,

did he recognize her scars, her hurt.

I bet he couldn’t remember–like him.

Darts his eyes from the display of pain.

Doesn’t move when she flinches away.

Doesn’t recognize the tears

because he can’t remain.

And I wonder if Stan Lee understands

what it really means to love the Hulk?

To stand in his way regardless.

The supernatural drive to help him stay calm,

despite the horror, despite the harm.

The relentless love at stake…

all the tender, godforsaken love it takes.

miss

been so long sometimes I forget the color of your hair

miss the way you meandered through our home

much like those ghosts with tambourines around

their ankles and faraway thoughts in the air

 

been so long sometimes I forget the way you cared

miss the vision of you with gold around your neck

much like those spirits with the sun at their backs

their warmth and faraway peace in their prayers

 

 

 

astray

gave a gorilla a teacup and he crumbled it before

I could reach out, I tried my best not to cry

over that ancient porcelain

I tried again and it happened over and over until

the floor was covered with shards of my past

went to bed perplexed that my praise didn’t

motivate him enough to care to keep them

or at least to want to make me happy

rested my head upon my aged pillow

among the dust, among the plaster

dreamt of gorillas with their array of fractured teacups

and their damned gigantic buckets of laughter

bond

woke up and there was doom, so much

it was like I was drinking it from a cup

perhaps it’s because I dreamt of those black

ribbons that like to get tangled in my hair

that damned pretentious silk

I feel them now but I have to forage for

those twisted inky feminine cords

don’t you see them

you have to see them I swear

but

you insist they aren’t even there

and

I know I must give up my lost search

not question this pain on earth

long to walk without a step

breathe but not take a breath

just be and not let go yet

over

on this day of raindrops on our lips

and

wishing on vanishing rainbows 

you told me you were happy it was gone 

cause it demanded too much attention

but its departure left me useless 

and 

I’ll  miss the purple clouds 

and the pelicans floating

between 

the horizon and the nodding sun

and 

I’ll miss this feeling 

that I don’t want to leave 

play

those red butterflies take me back to the time when

those annoying crickets lulled me to sleep

dreamt I was barefoot on the gravel

running to that abandoned church

where those lost souls would be baptized

stood up high to pretend to speak

but I knew I wasn’t worthy

running back to the little, green house

the gravel biting at my soles

I whimpered and looked back –

you ran and didn’t even feel the rocks

you came laughing back,

your feet untouched

elicit

top of the palm hunched like a spent witch

fallen over her broom, its thick green

hair barely tossed by the wind.

her brown limbs lacking oxygen,

left her tattered luggage stuck in the mud.

that abandonment makes me think of

all those stories of hate you wrote

thinking it would make me want to

turn the page, but I tossed your book into

the water. and it makes me wonder

how spoiled creatures can hold so much

ugly and suffering, yet leave it

displayed out for the offering.

makes me want to cut the witch down,

rid my sight of vile palms that

make me think of so much pain.

makes me wish I never followed you

down this beguiling path of eternal

sunshine and hidden rains.

makes me wish you knew me before this.