Little girl, lost…

To C: 

I saw her once, a reflection in another’s eyes. A faith filled peace, a blessed assurance. 

She walked the narrow path, never veering right or left. Swallowing every bit of righteousness. Building the facade, a gorgeous edifice, not a single fissure the untrained eyes could see. 

But I saw her once, in a dream. 

There:

She chisled away the cinder-blocked walls, a pick axe of justice in one hand : a hammer of truth in the other. 

There were:

Chains of the past resting at her feet, links broken by grace. No tears of shame in her eyes, no noose of regret. No friendless rejection, no lies offering protection. 

I saw her once.

Offering a peace that passes..

There’s a knock at the door, she says, “open it: they are bringing water”. 

And you are parched. 

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Three times the woman…

She’s 91, white-haired, rocking chair, a mile and a half of great grandchildren line the fireplace. 

She insisted we call her “Grandmother”…wouldn’t hear of anything less, no Grandma, Nanny, Nana, lowbrow.

She answers the rotary phone, still hanging in its rightful place; I swallow my regret and use her pedigree. “Yes”, joyfully she shames me. 

I apologize for my derelict, trying to conceal my regret. I make promises we know I can’t keep. Still, she plays along. 

Somewhere in the fifteen borrowed moments she asks me, “is this…” I say my name, “it’s me..it’s ..” yes, yes, ” she says hiding the shame of age’s evil trickery. 

On the highway, cars are zooming by me and I slow it down enough to hold on to the moment awhile longer. First bell rings in ten. I decide there is no better education than the short conversation I’m engaged in, tardy.

She was a seamstress, he was a soldier. She fixes things: him, me, us. All of us. She is proud, never utters a harsh word to or against us. 

In her home, I’m ten again. I lay my head in her lap and she picks up my hand. “Beautiful skin” she says comparing youth to time. I close my eyes and feel immortality. 

We try to turn the hourglass over but our hands can not reach. 

Second bell, I curse time. “How’s your oldest?”… “fine, we are all fine”, I lie. 

One last student scampers through the locking doors, “I have to go, Grandmother”. 

She tells me I’ve made her proud, today’s she’s happy. I tell myself I have time, I’ll make time. 

But, I can’t make time. No one can fabricate time. It is given and there’s never nearly enough. 

Angels among us…

I let it ring the first time, press denied. 

But she never calls twice, so I swallowed the gravel in my throat and picked it up. 

“Are you okay?” Number two asks me. And I lie, “of course”. 

Wasn’t the whole point of this to tell the truth? Well you can’t tell the truth to anyone who doesn’t want to hear it. 

She never relents, “the thing is, I had a dream about you, last night, and you were crying…uncontrollably” she says she woke up, got a drink, back to bed. 

“And then, you were crying again. I ran after you, calling your name. You didn’t answer.” 

I tell her, I think I was in some quicksand.. no need to worry, someone gave me a hand. 

What’s it been? A month maybe two? “I really miss you”, she says. I truth, I miss you so much.. we were quite the pair, weren’t we? 

There’s a pause, she’s trying to close some hole between her space and mine. “Listen”,  she says. 

And I do… “I love you”.

I sigh… I love you, too. 

She never calls twice! 

Why hurt…

Why do they hurt me? 

What’s the ultimate prize? To see tears fall from my eyes? 

Does it help them breathe to take the air out of my lungs? 

Is the knife sharper when retrieved from my back?

Is your other face the prettier one? 

Slice the tendon, the Achilles. So I can’t run. 

Why would you take my hammer? So I can’t fix a thing…

Replace the sun, take the heat from my skin? 

Send a drought, death by dehydration?

Scary skinny, flush the food in the toilet with all your lies? 

It’s easier if you can’t see what you’ve done. 

Dig my heart out with a spoon, toss it on the ground. 

Pluck my eyes out with your fingers, rip my nails from there beds. 

Boil my brain on the stove, what do you see? 

Not what you expected? Of course not! 

What’s that you said? 

Depart from me, you never knew me. 

Oh that’s right, you never knew me. 

Quicksand …

It’s a childhood game, remember? Jump over it, give us your hand, We’ll help you. 

Don’t fall in, if you sink you’ll suffocate. That’s what kills you, the little pieces of sand. Each one of them. 

I look up at them as I let my feet dangle over it. “But I’m not scared”, I smile. 

One.. two.. three.. jump. 

Just shy of landing. Panic, I’m never going to make it, am I? 

They laugh at me, “we never really wanted you to.” 

A circle of hands reach out, I can only touch the tips of their fingers. Their eyes never see me. 

I’m dying here! A chuckle 

Look, I’m sinking. 

Both hands are reaching out, help me? 

In unison I hear their answer, “you’re too late” 

My chest squeezes out, “but, I wasn’t scared”.

Moth to the flame…

I’m easily drawn in, I see a fire and my feet start to run. I’m not even carrying water. I’m not trying to put it out. It starts in my chest, I can’t catch my breath. I hear the stacato beat of my heart as I lay it out. I peel back the layers and watch it start to seep and then gush. I put a finger over the hole but it requires both hands. 

There’s an old pile of kindling, it’s lying right below the waist. A tiny spark and it starts to burn, slowly. Another word, another thought, another memory. I adjust my stride, trying to smother the tiny flame before it consumes the entire place. 

I reach for the water but it’s boiling. What’s the point? It’s already too hot. Scorches my fingers as I dip them in and swirl them around and around in circles. 

It’s getting dark in here as the heat rises. My breath quickens, legs-locked in place. I can’t move to escape; I don’t want to. I like the heat; it reminds me of July. Tanned skin, sweat dripping.  The sound of a hitch and I look up to the sky.

Hold your breath…

Right there, 

Right there, 

An explosion, accelerate, don’t stop. 

Don’t look back; there’s nothing there to see. That old house has burned to the ground. 

I’m restless…

Is it possible to love a place and hate it all at the same time? As I drive to work in the morning I see an old man setting in front of an even older building with seven different logos painted over one another. He’s reading a book while on the tailgate of an old truck. It’s probably a Ford or a Chevy because men around here don’t like “foreign jobs”. They are loyal to a bygone day of trusty parts and old men like themselves who put things together with the intention of staying. 

There are a couple of roosters walking around the old place because they lived there long before the donuts did. I smile and say to myself..”only in..” I want to take a picture in my mind to remind myself there is some good left in this place. Something worth staying for. 

I love the sound of cicadas in the summer. The air so hot you can see it move on a July morning. The smell of hay and thick red dust as I walk down an asphalt road that only the neighbors know about.

I love the horses, the cows, stray dogs and cats. Dilapidated houses with threatening city signs saying “remove your junk” from the lawn. The city pool across the tracks, its dangerous so don’t go alone and never ever at night. Mother may I? 

I love the slow southern drawl of men saying yes ma’am and open doors with head nods. I love red dirt roads and young boys with “jacked-up trucks” and muddy tires. Stores that close too early and liquor stores with hidden back doors. 

All of these things are love and hate. I hate the boarders and the bastards. The grouped up girls from nowhere shaming girls from less than nowhere. I hate the old money snobs wearing lame over-priced boutique clothes with stuck-up noses. The money hungry, gold-digging whores,who use their names and bodies to catapult out-of-here. I hate the ugly stares of those who don’t understand anyone with an open-mind, whose two faces,bless you with one hand while pressing the knife with the other. 

The no drinking in public if you work with the public. The defending your rights to read Twighlight so that you don’t get kicked out of the church as a reprobate. The drug-addicted parents, the over bearing in-laws who’d rather see you homeless than loved. The lack of white sand, the devoid of ocean rolling air. The forced southern gospel, southern rock, southern country radio. 

Four concrete walls, an over-priced, useless degree, a declining career, a million reasons why this place punches the life from your lungs and stifles the cries of “this is it?” This is all there is? 

Why have you forsaken me! 

Forget-me-not flowers on my porch, laugh at what can never be. And I smile at them as I walk by because they make it possible to love and hate at the exact same moment in time. 

I did it…

Here’s to being honest! Today, I sent an email to the first woman. We’ve been friends for almost ten years but I would’ve never had the courage to be honest with her before now. I told her that I had feelings and desires that I didn’t want to go away and that my husband knows and that I’m so thankful for his support. 

I’ve actually dreamed of this moment. Of being able to share this deep, dark, secret with the woman who shaped my mind to being open about my sexuality. 

As I sent the email, I felt a wave of nerves rush through me and also a feeling of relief and exhilaration. This is the woman who asked me to come stay with her not to long ago. At least now, she will have no doubts in her mind. With her there will be no ifs. If she wants me to come there I don’t think there is any doubt in my mind either. 

The question now is, what will this revelation lead to? Maybe just a deeper understanding of each other and a place to talk openly. I’m fine with that. I’m fine with anything really as long as it’s not goodbye.

The last time I tried to broach the conversation I was shut down. She walked away and said her lover didn’t want me in her life. She was scared or jealous maybe. Who knows. I looked for her for years before I finally saw her profile on Facebook linked to a mutual friend. I often wonder, did she think about me at all throughout the years? 

Did the feeling of my hand on her flesh still haunt her dreams or fuel her fantasies? Maybe I will never know. But, I hope that I will, someday. 

So, here’s to honesty. And here’s to truth is it really all it’s supposed to be?