I have two mothers. They tell their stories, they dream for me different dreams, strange women, strange memories.
I have two daughters, two stories of my own. I have my own babies, I have my own wishes, my own hopes. Did I do better, did I do what I wanted to?
I have a man, another man, there’s always a man….he has sons. What is a son? I have too many fathers, I never wanted a son. What would I do with such a thing?
I would teach him, I think. I would demand from him excellence. I would push him to be a better man than the men he sees around him. I would say no to almost everything and yes to all of it. I would tell him the truth: women are worse but we get away with everything. I would tell him he is a born man and that is a noble thing. I would teach him to be a man who could be a father to women.
But, I have no sons. I have daughters. I have to hope the mothers of sons don’t break them before they meet my babies. I have to hope there are women who love men raising up sons who aren’t broken.
I have to believe that the broken promises have been unbroken for my girls. I have to believe these women will see the value in keeping the promises made to me. The mothers of the sons I didn’t have are the keepers, the unbreakers, the unforsakers. I want to believe in you, mothers. I want so much to believe I can trust you to raise men for my daughters. I want to believe you made men who love women.
I want to believe I would do better. I hope you will do better. My daughters deserve so much better.
Has anyone ever loved? I don’t know if these flesh and bones beings even can. I have seen so many, believed so many, trusted none, never, not one. I have no counterpart. No one like me. I am a woman without a husband, a heart without a hope, a dream that never became a memory, a life that never breathed. I am Rachel though my heart breaks like Leah’s. I am the widow at the window, the woman sneaking her water at the late hour. I am a lesson to be learned, a dreamer never, a thinker ever. I research and gather, I study and devour.
I remember only the heat of your skin. I remember only the shape of your eyes. I remember only your legs your hair your lips your hands. I only remember the shape of you the warmth you gave. I remember only you in the light of the forever we will be apart.
I fell down again and I never wanted to fall down again. He has eyes like skies and I want to tell you two decades is just enough to even look again. I want to tell you I recovered enough to do it, but I didn’t want to and so I won’t. I won’t forget and I won’t remember and I won’t try and I won’t do this again. I’ll pretend it doesn’t hurt like I’m dying. And I promise I will not cry. I promise I will never be anything but what I am. I will walk and walk until my legs fall off but I will not do this again.
“For fools rush in where angels fear to tread”–Alexander Pope
There is a black band of mourning wrapped around my heart. I think sometimes I might remove it, slice through it, tear it from its place. Perhaps a razor worked under, a swift slice, a flick of the wrist and it will all be over.
I think of the heart it encircles, a tiny fist sized muscle of limited ability. It cannot think, it cannot reason; it beats and bleeds and breaks.
I think of Monet and his willows, weeping for dead soldiers. I think of Frida and her jarred baby, killed by its own womb. Models that cannot object to being painted. Symbols that cannot speak. I have been only the hope of expression, the bound heart with its purposeless emotion. The nothing.
Here we stop. In silence. No beating no remembering no thinking. Here we cease pulsating with dreams undreaming, memories forgetting, the end unwriting back to its beginning. Full circle the black circle remains. Intact, unbroken, lonely and unyielding.
There is a black band of mourning wrapped around my heart. I think sometimes I might remove it, slice through it, tear it from its place.
I have seen strange things, beautiful and odd things. I have heard the mirror remembering its past. The face that was once smooth and young has spoken too much too often. It has been seen too much. It is so tired of being seen.
My face is a constant song, a reminder of music, a controlled and contrived series of notes. I must say, I have done a bang up job of singing expression, feeling and attitude. No one even knows if they should dance or sigh or sing along.
He holds in both hands a treasure. He says, “This is yours. But you can’t have it.” Perhaps I can earn it? I make a decision: When he hurts me I will forgive him. When he misunderstands me and disregards me, I will accept it. I will help him, I will put all my faith in him, I will be stronger than I’m able for longer than I have ever been. I will love him like he is my own heart, because he already is.
“You are a crazy joke.”
I can’t anymore. I am a crazy joke. Nothing I do is ever going to change this. This man breaks me and blames me and shames me. I feel cheated, but he made it clear from the beginning, I would never really possess what he had shown me. It was just bait and I walked into the trap.
Now, I have to remember every day until I finally forget…..my efforts were useless. He never knew me and all he saw in me was just this: a crazy joke
I shouldn’t have stayed as long as I did, I shouldn’t have given up, left that job, broken that promise, I shouldn’t have spent that money, I shouldn’t have made that call, I shouldn’t have taken that drink, talked to that stranger, worn that dress, I shouldn’t have opened that letter, sent that gift, I shouldn’t have gotten back up.
But I did.
I woke up this morning to another storm. A storm not of my making. I had not erred yet again, it was thunder and lightening and pouring rain and it wasn’t my fault. But, I have created enough hurricanes to know exactly what to do. And the storm passed. As storms eventually do.
I have become a compulsive picture taker. I see birds flying on rainy days and I reach for my phone. I see strange lights in the sky, I see street art in unexpected, hard to reach places and I am compelled to commemorate it with a simple point and shoot. I have not forced my brain to commit to memory a sunset, a smile from my child, my own lipsticked lips in how long?
I have unlearned memory making.
My life truly has become a stage. I follow a script written by an electronic author. I review my picture gallery in an effort to make connections to what I would have once had buried in my bones. I know by sight where I have been, but I have forgotten how to see who I am there. Moments are lost in their recordings.
I must unlearn picture taking.
My mother works too hard. She works two jobs hard. My father lies restless on his bed, a book in his hand. I wonder how they go on.
They were so young before they were old. I’ve seen the photos, I’ve heard the stories. They had dreams and goals and big ideas and when they met each other, they fell in love. My mother wore a dress her mother made, my father an Air Force uniform. How proud they were of their clothes, how long they took to get ready for their dates! How shy were my mother’s smiles? How big were my father’s lies?
I bet he told her she’d never have to work. I bet he told her he’d take care of her for the rest of her life. I bet he said he’d be a big man and she’d never feel lonely again. I bet she believed him and in her hopeful little heart I bet she decided right then to always take care of him.
If only they could have been young forever. If only they hadn’t been in such a hurry to find the future. I know my mother’s back is bent by my father’s broken dreams and I know their bond is stronger than her disappointment.
My father turns the page. My mother sits down on the edge of the bed. “You hungry?” she asks. “I already ate.” he replies. She reaches for the light next to her. It clicks off and my father turns on his side, he readjusts his light so it falls on the book in his hand. She lies down and reaches out, patting his back as she falls asleep. She dreams of her young man and the big man he will one day be.
It’s too ridiculous. I can’t say it. It’s true though.
Your eyes really are hypnotic. Slightly Slavic, a touch too close together, bluer than blue has ever been. I’m including every sky I have ever seen, every sea, every flower, every jewel. I don’t have a word for the blue of your eyes, I do have a photograph it almost hurts to look at. I remember the day I took it. I remember the coffee we were drinking, the wind that blew down from the mountain messing up my hair, I remember the way you stared. Too intense, too blue.
See, it’s ridiculous. It’s ridiculous and I said it. It’s ridiculous and it’s true.
I saw him for the first time when I was only four. His childish profile was a shadow behind my own face. My reflection in the window separated my bedroom from the dark backyard, separated me from him. It was a safe enough wall. I knew he could never break even that thin barrier. Never did he turn his face to mine, though I suspect he stole a glance whenever I turned away. Yet, each time I looked back, he was looking at something past my window, beyond my yard, at something far away from me.