to my mother
You told me I was angry until I believed you.
Words packed in my mouth
like a crowded movie theater
cut by the scream of a fire alarm
and the sharp accusation of countless lights.
You throw accusations, sharp, after you’ve run out of plates and
it doesn’t matter if I’m seven or lying because
everyone is scrambling and clawing for the exit but
like a nightmare, the door
only opens inward and it’s pressed shut
by all of these scared hands
alive and looking for a doorknob.
The bone-cracking truth is I’ve
always been (looking for and) scared of the way you
take away your hands.
I’ve laid every stone of my life
around the circle where you
dropped me into existence.
When I find myself running in circles
around my mind,
straight razor in one hand, the past in the other,
I imagine your pelvis cracked like an egg
as I clawed my way out of you.
I must’ve been a bad movie monster—
claw-handed, yolk and white scrambled violently.
Cronenberg (A word not to use, because you don’t know it).
I wonder if it was a relief to be emptied of me
at least until reality was handed back to you (damp-skinned, maybe asleep)
As a cloth-faced doctor sewed you back together below the waist,
fingers alive inside of you.
You and I will never talk about the women or men
I’ve slept with, my fingers alive below other waists, or the way I’ve
lapped up quiet hours of damp skin and the smell of secret places
like a hungry dog, or the way I
lead out all those words, single file, not panicking,
out of the burning movie theater and into unsuspecting other bodies,
where, I hope, they will neither grow nor fester.
If they must emerge, broken eggs, clawing hands,
then I hope they at least have the decency to be dead.
Mostly I hope they burn up before they can break any bones or ruin any names.
That no one needs to be sewn back together in their wake.
Sometimes I wonder about that doctor who
sewed you up. Such a violent, merciless thing to do.
What did he think about the blood, sticky and warm on his hands and
did he pretend not to hear it when you said that I wasn’t
who you thought I would be or
if guilt ever weighed on him for what he resigned you to or
for the angry daughter he packed into your life.
First published in Pulp Literature, Issue 16, Second-Place Winner in the Magpie Award for Poetry.