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.”

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

daughter

if an angel were with skin, this is the skin she’d be in

and it gladdens my heart that he was there

with his red plaid falling in love with you

when you were tired of running

you thought we’d be abandoned

but, look at us dear, we’re still standing

I admire your spirit, your laughter

your view on this entire situation gone mad

the way you send prayers to stop me feeling sad

so sad, which confirms my thinking

that if an angel were with skin

it’s your skin she’d be in

uncomfortably

I felt the friction like a cat’s tongue

hesitating to taste what’s on my finger 

cooed sweet baby words in its ear 

to get him to linger 

drove under the dopey gray clouds

so tired from the day 

and told big happy lies to myself 

begging the sunshine to stay 

creep

the demon he carried was larger than him

he was unaware but I saw it

and I was just a little girl

this man who smelled of cigars and aging skin

barely spoke, but he had all the baby dolls lined up

and I’m sure he touched them all

including me, innocent and small

this man who crept in with the shadows

when he thought I was asleep, didn’t have a clue

 I could turn into a statue and not make a peep

this man was naught, this man who was a creep.

shower

you’ll never know what secret thoughts I think,

entertain; as my eyes match my fogged up

window.  catch myself against the side to

keep from falling; falling from all my damn

sobbing.  secret thoughts to make this hell end.

awful thoughts, selfish thoughts.  the banana

leaves try earnestly to shake me from my

disturbing trance.  those distant violins

try to keep me awake.  they beg me to

follow their sorrow, but they have no clue

what’s in store for my crazy tomorrows.

you’ll never know what secret thoughts I think;

dark thoughts that would make you run, make you sink.

Je suis désolé

Ma petite fleurplease forgive me,

I’ve told you too much.

I opened up like the earth with dirt spilling,

oozing back into the bottomless pit.

Didn’t see you fall in, because I was so busy complaining. 

Didn’t recognize you, covered in that soil – as I walked away. 

Please forgive me, ma petite fleur.

I messed up the delicate balance of aging

and becoming a friend. 

I put him first even when I thought my

life would end.

I pray that you’ll be stronger for it someday,

ma petite fleur. 

I pray that you’ll forgive me. 

barely

gently place the bow to string.  tiptoe on

ice, nearly silent.

how do you do it?

appear and then leave almost without a

trace, but I witness your shadow depart.

I reach out to air to find no one there.

here, nearly silent.  

how do you do that?

vanish

this world so disturbed, the faint blades of grass

could have seizures.  familiar sight it’d be.

this world so caught up with itself, it left

dead roots ever reaching for the water.

such a pitiful sight, those upturned trees.

walking numb past strangers wearing glass masks

of sameness to fool me.  pretend they are

my friends, but I know better than to think

such silly things.  this world becoming a

small black box with pretty jewels to trick us.

this world so disturbed, we’ve all lost our minds,

such thievery, but we stand with arms up

willing to share anything.  it takes our

hopes, dreams, everything and swallows it whole.

taken, leaving us to search evermore

all over this dying, beautiful world.