Loose

I wake with a start to the monotonous alarm gone off in the not-quite-morning, setting in motion all the things in a day that can’t be stopped.

After dressing, out of the large bedroom window I observe the sun beginning what could be its optimistic rise over the serrated tree line.

The trees bordering our property clench at the last of autumn’s harlequin leaves in their mournful fists, but for one Herculean tree that has fallen, the wide nieve of its root mass ripped up and resting bare above a loamy gouge in the grassy bed.

Downstairs, all around me, they busy themselves eating the breakfast I’ve prepared and readying for the day, oblivious to the storms inside me, which also can’t be stopped.

This time of year, the ground outside takes on water until it is nothing but soft sponge, just before it begins its slow, deep freezing.

Inside, the ground beneath my feet is also beginning an unsettling softening, the imminent chill of winter threatening to make home in the fading marrow of my papery bones.

Like the lamented tree, I seem to have come loose from my station in life.

-image via Pinterest, original source unknown

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Write

maybe if I write things down,
inking out a record of my existence,
I can counteract my disappearance,
my erasure

maybe it will make a mark on the world,
however small

-image via Pixabay

Mirror Image

Tucked tightly beneath her chin, her favorite blanket created a cocoon around her as she lay quietly on the couch, everyone else going about their business around her. Sitting on the floor in front of the tv, her two younger half-sisters bickered over who should have control of the remote. Her mother worked in the kitchen, cleaning up from a dinner she hadn’t been able to eat.

More than anything, she wished she was invisible right now, and yet, she couldn’t make herself be alone with her thoughts. 

No matter how hard she tried to divert her attention from the hurt, she could not. It bubbled and boiled beneath her skin. It was sludge, heavy through her veins and a pulsing pressure behind her eyes, threatening release. It sat like a boulder on her chest, making it impossible to breathe deeply. She was afraid if she tried, she might burst.

She didn’t know what to do. How to feel. How to move. Her feelings were so huge and twisted, it seemed as if she’d never escape them. She had no idea how to go about a day without the weight of it pulling every thought to the pit of her stomach, into the darkness.

I wish I didn’t feel anything at all.

She’d hurt her boyfriend, Doug, and she felt terrible. Worse than terrible. It was revolting. But it was even bigger than the immediate hurt; it was much deeper than that.

She’d done something really stupid, sleeping with that other guy, and the guilt had forced her to tell Doug the truth. Well, mostly. The ugliness and shame had kept her from telling him the whole story. And the fear.

She tried really hard not to think about the whole story, because when she did, the loathing was so intense she could taste it’s metallic tang and smell it’s charred blackness. The fear would burn and churn in her stomach until she could feel the sting of bile in the back of her throat. The worst part was, it wasn’t even the first time. She’d done it before and let the guilt liquefy her insides all this time.

I’m just like her. 

It was her biggest fear. She could not let herself be just like her mother.

Her mother had been married five times already, and the sixth would no doubt be soon. They’d moved in and out, and in and out. All of them were men who were not worthy of her mother’s love, none who treated her mother with respect. Men who took. Who hurt. And it seemed as if her mother searched for carbon copies, over and over, leaving the good ones in her wake. She cheated on every one, and always seemed to be looking for a plan B. And it often felt like she and her sisters were just along for the ride, and the ride had no breaks.

How on earth will I ever be able to outrun that? Look what I’ve already done, and I’m only 17.

It took her by complete surprise when her mother knelt down next to the couch and stroked her hair. It was uncharacteristic; she was not cold, but she was also not really a huggy-touchy type. Vulnerability wasn’t in her wheelhouse.

“Are you going to be okay,” her mother asked, making eye contact.

“I don’t want to end up like you,” she replied, through quivering lips and involuntary tears while maintaining eye contact, the hurt ans fear vibrating softly in each word. She couldn’t believe she’d said it aloud, but it had been sitting right there, on the tip of her tongue, for so very long. And maybe, just maybe, her mother might understand. Maybe she could help. Maybe it would help.

But, no other words passed between them. No words were needed; her mother’s eyes had replied.

Hiding tears of her own, her mother stood and walked away.

-image credit studiojoslizen, found via Pinterest; edited older post

Mothers

Mothers live only partially in their own minds; there is always a part of themselves reserved.
Part of her is innately and magically connected to her children, and she is constantly busy dissecting the minutia, reflecting on every behavior and emotion, figuring how she could better meet their needs; she’s constantly wondering how to better help each one.
Mothers live only partially in their own minds, so, it’s a beautiful, inevitable truth – a mother can only be as happy as her unhappiest child.

–artwork by Hyatt Moore

Far From Home

We are so far from home.

Your smiles are a blast of arctic air that rattles my bones, and I can’t seem to get warm. I shiver when you speak in those strange smiles filled with politeness, the ones that shout aloud that something is missing. I ache when our eyes meet, all depth, layers locked behind a frigid wall of fear.

We have become roommates. We talk about logistics and practical things, small talk that makes my skin itch and my heart yearn for yesterdays. Screams stick in the dry spots of my throat. My heart is a muscle whose memory is beginning to atrophy.

My body misses you. It misses us. I had become so accustomed to your touch, even the most trivial of grazes, and now my body is a plant, drooping without water. My skin is drying and cracking, as if your touch had been the thing that was keeping it alive.

Every day is torture. I forget and remember, forget and remember. I expect your hand to reach for mine while I read my book and you watch the news. I close my eyes, expecting to feel the familiarity of your body moving in behind mine as I scramble the eggs. But then I remember this tired place of treading near the surface, this folded page of resentment and fear we keep returning to.

And lately, I’ve caught myself stroking my neck while I drink my tea, running my finger down my forearm while we watch our favorite show. I tuck myself in, wrapping my arms around myself when I go to sleep. It’s better than crying so hard I feel like I can’t breathe.

We are so from home.

-image via Pexels; not indicative of current life happenings

Unbridled

from an early age,
I’ve had this crazy feeling,
as if I somehow came into this deep, unexplained power,
an unbridled magic it’s taking me a lifetime to embrace and hone

it compels me,
even when I don’t want it to –
it wants to bulldoze,
excavate,
to crack me wide open,
exposing all the hidden, vulnerable places,
to break me down to my simplest form

I’ve always felt the need to stay ahead of this thing,
or it might destroy me,
and everything in its path

sometimes it feels like I’m gaining ground,
sometimes it feels like I’m losing,
but the whole point has been to just keep moving

-image via Pinterest

Absence

they say the pines a’whisper,
a rustling lullaby song,
as the breeze plucks at treetops,
and cool nights grow dark and long

but their sound does not lull, no,
it sings harshly of a ‘bye,
disappearing in shadow,
and cruel whispering of lies

there’s no bogeyman hiding,
in the darkest nooks of night;
it’s absence that’s a’haunting,
hollow howls in the moonlight

-image via Pexels; revision of older poem as part of Imaginary Garden with Real Toads’ prompt, hollow

Opaque

I looked at her, eyes the same as mine,
yet entirely different. Mine searched for truth, not rescue.

I couldn’t nod like I knew, couldn’t get angry, because it would make no difference. So I just listened.

Too often, my mother spoke about things I didn’t want to understand, but I knew her words needed somewhere to go, so I absorbed them through my skin, until my own breath tasted brackish.

I shelled it all in until I became little cracks, unobservable to the naked eye. A weeping window that grew opaque.

-image via Prexels

Elements

I have been beyond tired, beyond lonely –
simultaneously lonely and never alone,
with an emptiness settling in so deeply,
it was a stone inside of me,
hard and sharp

my past and my fears are the leaden shackles I have always felt a duty to escape;
my rest is formed by my waking life,
and my waking life has too often been formed by feelings of defeat,
sorrows I allow to permeate as I set forth in my duty

but, in the center of my core,
I have always known it is possible to break the old, rusted, fear-forged chains of the past,
to encourage elements to transition from one state into another,
transforming and casting an entirely new life

sadly, chains made of blood and memory are a million times more difficult to sever than those made of steel,
and the past has a tendency to overtake me when I am not paying enough attention,
or, when I pay too much,
and I’ll find myself making the same mistakes as those who’ve come before me,
with the same resentments set to boil

but, I have also been tired, yet content,
simultaneously fulfilled and alone, but never lonely,
hard-won self knowledge settling in so deeply,
silence and gratitude are all I need to feed the gentle stillness in my soul

because those old, rusty chains do eventually break,
even though the breaking is an endlessly tiresome business,
and when I look the fearful past in the face and call it by its name,
it loses its rigidity and strength,
becoming just another corroding element,
flaking away with time

-image via Pexels; shared as part of the dVerse Poet Pub’s prompt, The Art of Confessional in Poetry

Rise

in this life,
there is a rising that isn’t always from death,
a flight that doesn’t always end in breaking

if we pay attention,
brilliant beams pass through us like water,
and, if we’re still enough,
we experience every imaginable light

and every now and then,
a current sweeps through us,
carrying with it our broken hearts to grieve,
as they should

then, a raging river lifts us,
floating us over the low gray hills,
up, up,
elsewhere,
to find the place where the light,
even if dimmed, never diminishes

for, we are more than breath,
alone,
more than the thickness of the air that surrounds us,
more than the rupturing into molecule and atom;
we are not fractions,
we are our own lowest common denominators,
we are primes

we experience every imaginable light,
including its absence,
and as a whole,
we rise

in this life,
there is a rising that isn’t always from death,
a flight that doesn’t always end in breaking;
there is a light that can only be known from darkness,
a journey that brings us home

-image via Pexels; shared as part of dVerse Poet Pub’s Open Link Night