memory

little white buildings on my right, as I

make the ground ache when I walk.

earth hard, unlike weeks before when

life sprouted up towards the sun.

barren forked trees on my left,

as pale gray clouds leave me

breathless for a moment cause

the air hurts to breathe.

silence, as I go past the frozen mess

that was left before me as I begin my

waiting for the world to act alive again.

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.”

passing

once they removed their monstrous

parasols and offered the sun with all its

glory, I was able to see for miles,

see past the stains and all its gory.

walk past my long-limbed friends,

feel their gentle boughs crack upon me

and

wonder if that west window still

offers the view of diamonds and trees.

then without time to think, to blink,

they decide my time in the warmth

is done. parade their parasols atop

of me – flaunt like they won. close my

eyes quick and capture the burn, bid

the orange blaze to stain my gaze for days

and

weep over how much I’ll miss the sun.

 

 

 

keepsake

let my eyes stay here and play awhile

before you go away. let me marvel at how

your light shifts shape, your amber haze so

addicting. let my eyes stay here and

play awhile, before you fly right out the

door. leaving your golden smile, your aura,

your everything – helpless on the floor

grandpa

startled yet grateful that I saw your face

the other night.  I haven’t seen it since

1988.  kind eyes, more white than

blue.  slow to smile, but when you did you meant

it.  what a gift to have seen you in that

man, a stranger, walking past.  walked slow in

that fog of numb I entered in hoping

the illusion would last, but looked back to

see you walking away.  tears pushed their way

through, I had no choice but to feel them.  felt

a breeze grace the nape of my neck, close my

eyes and continue – startled yet grateful.