view

Set the cotton candy mounds ablaze;

transformed their blue haze

to grey.

Tried not to look back at the bridge that

called so boldly out

to me.

Imagined me atop its railing;

set to spring forth up

to them.

Mind wandered to that dying bunny

in the yard we found

last night.

Heart sunk and wished I’d held it so it

wouldn’t be afraid

to die.

Today you checked on it. Still breathing;

its glassed eyes on the

blue sky.

Put it in a bag; tied it tight.  To

end its misery;

its fight.

Peeked on it later; its shut eyes now

at peace.  Walked away

to 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.”

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.

privy

She told me in confidence that she thought she gave birth to a beast. She looked around the room to make sure that we were alone. Her eyes darted down and she whispered it, “a monster. The odd thing is that his birth had been so peaceful that January evening with the air so quiet you could hear the falling snow. In the peaceful, dim-lit room with hushed voices late at night, he just slipped out. He just slipped out.  

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 like a faucet. But he would twirl her hair when she nursed him, and she would feel the softness of his cheek 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 after he became adorable, he finally 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 his fan blades were covered with blood. He would see pizza on the walls and see shadows move without any light. And when they were trying to be good Catholics, he would tell her that 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 his adorable baby blue sweater with the puppy on it, she’d fall in love with him all over again. She’d try to forget all the 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 the medications he tried. She’d try to crush the panic that would walk into her room 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 permission. He would cry 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 a day in March, a few years past, when she received a call from the teacher to pick up her son early from school. She walked tall into his special classroom and apologized for the massive amounts books and chairs strewn all over the room. Really, he knows better,” she’d say. She walked out of the building, her son’s hand in hers and made it to her car before she collapsed to cry. She cried for 2 straight hours and couldn’t even make dinner, she was too full of sorrow.

She told me that he could dream of the future and have night terrors that haunted him for weeks. He’d get up at bizarre 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 this time.

She told me that although he is growing up into a beautiful young man, he is taller than her now and in some ways smarter than her. But he’s moody and sad, happy and mad. Up and down he goes, round and round he goes. He’s always able to lure her into his trap. He can even catch her eyebrow twitch and it seems that he can read her mind before she speaks. He’s always inches from her and circling around her. Pecking at her, laughing at her, chasing her, and clawing at her. Unfathomable that this was the same human being that had just slipped out so effortlessly into the world.

She told me with a pensive tone that her entire being was filled with fright and even her soul, her aching soul, mourned for it to be over. And she felt betrayed because she asked me, “isn’t your soul supposed to be stronger?” Traitor, she’d call it. She said she felt empty and blank. She’d ask, “how much can one vessel hold?” And with every night that she went to bed thinking she was spent, she’d wake up and have to 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 struck with grief instead of relief.

A few moments passed, and then she just stopped. She wiped her cheek and told me in confidence that she wanted to tempt fate in a sea of aqua glass. Feel the wind rush past her face. Witness the brown clouds get taken over by the foam. Tease 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

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

 

 

blonde woman in ER

Milky veiled eyes,

heavy in a trance.

Her tongue flipped 

Portuguese and Italian.

When she was angry,

she broke the foreign dance;

spoke a startling line of English.

What’s your name?!

to the doctor she spat.

Next glance I took

she was wearing a mask,

passed out cold.

No more vexed phrases

in Portuguese and Italian

to be told.

grief

I long to surrender

to the rainfall;

feel wet hair

against my cheek.

Laugh until I feel hollow,

cry until I can’t speak.

I long to surrender

to the rainfall;

feel the drops travel

down my spine.

Hear the rain clouds

murmur,

you are as good as mine.

Fall into the emptiness

away from all my fears.

Oh, how I long to surrender,

surrender all my tears.