Mothers and Daughters

It is a mid July evening in Georgia.

We are at the ball park, sandwiched between

Two rusted, pro life trucks.

Above us, the deep baritone grumble of a

Summer shower.

The crack of the bat and my breath held, hoping.

An intern in the heavens flicks a switch and the cicadas cry as one, screeching and cheering her on.

Mosquitos take turns ravaging me, feasting on every bit of exposed flesh. I swat them heroically, but I only have eyes for her.

She does not like failing and she isn’t particularly good at this. I want her to be. Desperately. Laugh in the right spaces. Play the right sports. Be happy.

Be. Be in exactly the right way so that she never cries in the dark, helpless, considering all she never was.

I will try for nonchalance when she returns to the car. For a moment she is haloed by the sun, surrounded by pale faces. She is golden and she is light.

She holds the ball that she was gifted tight in her hand, as fragile as a robin’s egg. Somewhere a strong mother is using this very moment to build a stronger daughter.

I want to be a stronger mother. I want to give her advice. Make this a sage moment that she will remember later.

So I grab her empty hand, and she lets me hold it. I turn down the radio and let the cicadas sing us home.

Breadcrumbs


Where do I place the love for you
Now that you are gone?
Perhaps I will pluck it from my chest
Still pulsating, quick and heavy
And bury it near your favorite tree?

Perhaps it will break down and
follow you
And lead me from here to where you are
Like a trail of breadcrumbs
Guiding me to the only home I’ve known?

Perhaps it will wither and waste and turn to bitter ash?
Will it shrivel and grow cold and brittle
And flake away, rotten and unused?

Maybe I can give it away?
To someone who won’t
Really need it, who won’t
use it as often?
Who will let it stretch and grow thin
And drape about them like an ill-fitting suit?

I will tuck it with the memories of you
And all the things about you that
I am sworn to keep.
My love was yours.
And it belongs with you.
And perhaps one day I will find you
And give you back what was yours,
Still gleaming and familiar and worn.

The Hours

Where do all our hours go?

The time that burns holes in our pockets:

Precious minutes we waste getting into

The hours, getting

Through them, leaping

Past them—

And then they brush by us

Without so much as a goodbye.

They are so unlike all things known,

Far too quick,

And away one behind the other in a

Seamless blur,

Here and not here; so close we can

Taste it

So far they are unwrinkled and unblemished

And sweetly sour.

In the end will we get them back still warm?

Not every hour—

Not

The ugly wretched rotten ones;

Those rancid things can be collected

And buried deep together.

But I would like a bouquet of the

Short Blissful Hours

The roots of finiteness cut from them.

In the end I wish to be swaddled by them

The hours that were gracious enough

To lie to me about their leaving;

The ones that stained my lips,

Left marks on me and in me–

Those that visit once in awhile.

I want those again

An endless loop of being

Rocking me into the slumber of eternal hours

Or the deep and abiding nothing.

but only Jesus wept

His father was away. Not permanently( though he had never seen him). No, he was away and waiting and would return soon.

The house must be clean to greet him.

The food prepared.

The body bloodied.

The eyes turned to heaven unblinking,

Throat parched and knees aching;

Should his father find him not prone and wanting for nothing

He would be angry and would turn away, leaving him to perish (he would perish anyway, but still.

This would be eternal and the first death would sting but only a little).

His father’s absence could not be viewed as permanent or even really away, for he was absent in love.

His father angered quickly.

He had never seen his father so he could only tell of his anger secondhand

But he assumed his own hunger, which his father could quickly abate, was a test.

If only he loved his father enough and tread the path of Righteousness (razor thin and devoid of sound and light) carefully he would not starve (in this life he might. But in the next he would be full and live with him in paradise).

In paradise he would be free–

To tell his father at great intervals how very much he adored him.

His voice would be used as his father wished to thank his father for his own life. For greeting him in eternity and allowing him to look upon his glorious face. To know that his endless suffering was so that his father might hear this praise and be satisfied.

The threat of flames lapped at his heels and his skin blistered. The unceasing wailing of those drowning in the lake of fire bled through his ears in the night. His father took pity on them so that they might not die; rather they could drown again and again and wonder that they did not thank him enough to be spared.

He himself could spare no thought for them, the undying. To think of them was to question his father, and though he could not see him he could feel his disappointment. How very much those thoughts would displease him.

Bloody tears rubbed his skin raw. He begged his father to stay his hand, or perhaps even reveal it, but received no answer.

He would die for his father.

Sun parched and aching and earth bound and lonely.

Perhaps his father would hear him and take him down? Perhaps he would appear and show them–all of them that he had not been wrong.

His father would return.

He would save him.

He would. It was the way of fathers.

The sun rose. And set. Rose. And set again.

And still his father remained silent.

Absent.

His tears of blood stirred the dust.

Alone and fatherless Jesus wept.

Sleep No More

One of the last of the old guard

has fallen

And he alone remains,

stooped and slowed;

still, there is strength in his resolve.

Tangled in the cobwebs of what

they all were together

he, the god of time-rent yesterdays,

stands sentinel:

Holding fast to their firsts,

And their lasts;

Their triumphs,

Their failures;

Their inside jokes;

Their remembrances.

The smell

And the taste

And the stardust and magic

that made them

Escape him now,

Diaphanous and fleeting as dreams

Still warm

But fading and already missed.

He is weary and afraid.

Perhaps they will not be there

With the other half of

the memory he holds

The whole of it to fill in

the aged pieces

He grasps like anchors

in a tightening plane.

He is afraid he does not belong here

And perhaps there is no there.

He loses time

Gets lost in himself

When he awakens he is in the dark

Though all around him is light

Perhaps more brilliant

than any he has ever known.

In sleep he remembers whole

And he is whole.

He loosens his grip

Just to rest beneath

this old familiar veil once more.

Perhaps now

Or in a number of countable breaths

He will exhaust his space here

Will lapse into the dream

From which he will at last not awaken

And over that which they all were

He will stand sentinel

No more.

Tulips in the Snow

In early spring you clipped me,

still blooming.

You tore me by my roots,

then rent me until raw and vulnerable

I stooped before your

Vengeful eye.

You said I was too beautiful,

A mere thing surrounded

by beautiful things.

Before you I grew.

Should you leave I would yet grow.

So you clipped me.

Beneath your oppressively absent eye

I withered

grew dim.

I would never grow again.

Never know home again.

Everywhere I was was damned,

And you.

You beheld a being so beautiful

You wanted to watch it die

And become a thing less beautiful.

You yourself could not create beauty—

A beautifully damned nothing, then.

In the frost

Away from you

Unnatural to me

I sought the light.

A tulip in snow is an unnatural thing.

But a tulip in the dark

Is nothing.

I am not nothing.

Unnatural now, perhaps,

But I am.

a hastily constructed love letter, still bleeding.

Pull the shadows down deep until they are behind us;

Now only we remain.

Naked as you found me, but unafraid.

I drink you in.

Before, wordless, I would have let you

Take all the best lines

And all of the good light would paint your soliloquy.

But I have learned to fill the silence with pretty tokens taken from your tongue.

A marionette, I spend my days pretending

My painted face and human likeness dampen and crumble away like rotted wood about me

Until all that remains are splinters from

The useless mask.

Here I have laced together my clumsily begotten words

And too close you see the rips in the seams

And the wear

But when you are there and I am

Here

And nothing but time stands between us

Know that they mean I love you.

And I loved you.

And I will love you yet.

Autobiography or, how to be lost.

She suffocated in silence, trapped in a room stifling with its many doors, all of them devoid of handles. Indeed, once one entered the room, one dug through or asphyxiated in the ashes of those who had gone before.

She had not noticed the bones and the nothingness when she floated into the room; she was too distracted by the scene above. A pinprick in the sky, so small she had to paint the picture herself—paradise. She was embarrassed to admit how easily she was beguiled by an imaginary thing, the room. She would have walked past, but it was there and convenient and she was so very tired and perhaps her original journey was so far off—a quick detour? She might like it? So she tore parts away that might be unseemly and tried—really tried—to make herself small enough. She scraped herself inside but then a trick of the light enveloped her and she was lost.

She was so struck by the cloudless, brilliant above that she did not notice she was trapped in the cramped gray below until the door was closed and the only way out was up.

The doors were not true doors. Could she claw her way out she would have found unfinished wings and crumbled edifices. Perhaps some would enter the room and find other ways—but it was not her room. She simply did not fit.

So she climbed. Nothing above but what she could imagine, for the room shifted and all she had of above was in her mind.

The way was long and arduous and lonely, the only sound her gasping breaths, her guttural cries in the dark. The only company her own pulse, the steady beat of her heart keeping time.

Still, she climbed, for what else was there?

She climbs still.

spring cleaning

Hold my breath

Just a little longer

Until it burns then aches

Until I sleep, and the last breath we shared

Seeps out and is lost.

Rip the sheets from my desolate bed

Still drenched with the scent of you,

So I tuck them into the closet, unwashed, until

The scent of you goes stale,

And the ghost of you like

Tendrils sinks into me, claiming the whole of me and ruining my insides.

I can’t breathe for want of you,

Even if just for a moment—

Just fragment, stolen

From your broken life.

You have chosen the brokenness

And I cut myself on the shards of you

Left behind.

The blood seeps into the sheets

And intertwine with what is left of you

And we are once again.