Gotta touch my tar soul,
Figure out where
The road began.
Bipolar mensa mind
Ignoring river-rush labour
Finished her exam,
Added baby to the book pile.
What did I call you then?
Reach, reach deep into the pit,
Sift and churn
Find no memory of her arms hugging
No soft fingers wiping tears,
No smile, no tender,
No motherish love.
Smart girl, that’s me,
Anxious to please
Belly burning hot like coals
I was a poor substitute
But learned to mother that younger brother
and sister and other brother…
And thank god really for the one who flew away
Because it would have just been too many.
Wish I knew then
How to help them
I knew nothing,
Except that we were burdens,
Too loud, too needy, too messy, too
In my head, a constant rat-a-tat
Tongue clicking, throat opening
“You are a stupid girl
for such a smart girl.
Can you never stop babbling,
So useless, never thinking of me,
This house is unclean, and I work unseen
For you all, you all,
all you ungrateful children…
STOP, do not touch that. Do not eat that
Do not jump or run or fly or laugh or cry,
Stand, sit, sleep,
Why are you still in bed,
March, march, march
And pretend that you are loved.
A small child sits in her mother’s lap at the mall
The mother is stroking her hair,
kissing her head,
The child smiles up at her.
I watch and do not understand
Why is the girl happy?
Why would she want to sit in her mother’s lap?
Scurrying rat-girl, that’s me
Because gym doesn’t count
And She is proud
Her genes made those marks,
She is a Good Mother.
I feel something like pride, then
Whispers of grade-skipping, SAT’s
“You will be a genius, like me,
A Doctor, like me,”
Yes Mom, yes,
Are you a genius?
Because you seem more like a monster.
Bipolar years begin in earnest then,
I’d like to say I remember,
But that would be an exaggeration,
Two years compressed in my middle-school mind
Two years of cold and lonely,
Washing blood off underwear at 2 am
Not to burden Dad,
Please don’t cry Dad,
Nobody cries in this house, Dad.
Mom says you’re useless, Dad
Useless, not-so-smart Dad
I will be strong for you.
A little girl sits in her father’s lap,
Sucking her thumb
Towel wrapped around wet hair
He reads “Peter Rabbit,”
I listen and rest my head on his chest.
Mother in the hospital,
Will they fix her?
But still monster-mouthed.
“You have grown rude and ugly, girl,
Do you embarrass me on purpose?
How dare you tell me how to parent?”
The coal-belly burned too hot,
and we fought, and I began to block
No more blows landed past my forearm,
And it was time then,
For me to go.
In the way of good, smart girls,
Without looking back,
Into the devastated face of my youngest brother
Watching out the bedroom window
As we drove away…
1SageFemme All Rights Reserves 2016