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Three Poems.

I Remember . . .

Dad’s black box that I turned into my “hurt” box, where I kept painful memories.

Trying to go back to bed as a child and mom had already made it so I lay on top of the covers, snuggling under my winter coat.

I remember Chin being so sick and making him a box on the deck to sleep in because dad wouldn’t let me bring him in.  I remember the next day Chin was dead.

I remember the crabapple tree in our front yard – how it bloomed pink each spring and rained crabapples in the fall.  I remember the smallest Jones child picking a bunch of crabapples and I yelled at her.  I remember all the Jones children next door called their mother “Honey.”  I remember summoning all my courage and knocking on the front door and telling Honey what I had done and that I was very sorry and that she (the child- what was her name?) could pick crabapples whenever she wanted.  I remember that Deena Jones got pregnant in high school.  I remember the oldest brother leading me over to his Camino and kissing me and feeling my breasts.  And when I objected – him telling me that he wouldn’t hurt me.  That he wouldn’t hurt me like my daddy did.  I remember it was at a party – in a field or a backyard like most of our parties.  That I was drinking.  I was fourteen.

I remember hearing Carolyn Forché read at my community college and thinking how much I wanted to be a poet.  I went out and bought Gathering the Tribes and The Country Between Us.

I remember taking a poetry class at that community college.  And a ballet class – how I loved the black leotard and pink tights.

I remember Lynda having the large bedroom upstairs with its half bath.  I remember coming home from school one afternoon and being shocked to find her naked in bed with a-fully-clothed Robert sitting on the bed next to her.  Lyn was under the covers up to her armpits.  I remember her saying that Robert brought her home from school because she had bad cramps.  I remember how bad those cramps were because I had them too.

I remember how my Dad took us each aside – one by one to tell us that he was leaving.  I remember I was terrified because whoever he took first (Michelle? Lyn?) came back crying and I thought we were in terrible trouble.

I remember he tried to tell me on our deck off the dining room, but someone was playing a guitar so instead he told me in our empty dining room. Why was it empty? I don’t remember what he said – the exact words.  I remember imagining the scene in a story and I looked around and imagined the walls crumbling.

I remember once in middle school I stayed after to watch a ball game or something and I didn’t tell my mom.  I think I went to call her from a pay phone once or twice. When I finally reached her, she was so upset that I lied and told her I must have called the wrong number because a woman said okay when I said I was staying and I hung up.

I remember when we lived in the townhouse and I worked at the bank and I would sit in my room and drink and read and write.

I remember on Montgomery Avenue, getting fully dressed and packing a bag and crawling out my ground floor window to sit in the yard and pretend I was going somewhere.  That I had someplace to go.


How much Daddy Loved Me

When I was not yet five

I had meningitis,

the bacterial deadly kind.

My doctor was baffled

by the purple spots,

the pain of being touched.

Mama and Daddy drove me

to the children’s hospital

in the city.

I was put on a table,

scrunched up

like an inchworm,

small ass in the air.

The doctor

inserted the needle into my spine

without anesthesia

and drew

fluid while I cried,

I’ll tell my daddy on you.

Daddy promptly walked out,

unable to take it. 

Out of love for me

or so I’m told.

Mama, terrified and more

uncomfortable than she had

ever been,

Sucked it up

and

stayed.


THINK OF ANYTHING ELSE

Bath

Bath

Bathtub

Tub

Tub

Bathtub

Thumping drowns out the music

pumping through the earphones

squeezed between

bars

Bright light penetrates

closed eyes

Bath

Bath

Bathtub

Tub

Tub

Bathtub

Lie perfectly still

cage on my head

Shoulders pushed to the very

edge

making sure we get

the whole

cervical spine

I breathe slow

think of my mantra

my dog’s deep dark eyes

of anything

Flashback to a moment

when a nurse shoved

my ass in the air

And a doctor

drained fluid from my spine,

as though it were

an everyday

everyday

task

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