I've watched you forever and no matter what I do, you've betrayed me.
Now I've got this feeling that you never wanted to be here-spinning in
the air, existing among purple lilacs, forest pines. God's gifts make your
eyes water, force you to sneeze.
Fresh from the womb, your eyes shut hard against the milk you couldn't
digest, and voices, the shimmering grey mother curled over us. You
couldn't bear it, to look at this world. Was a past life more appealing?
Did you desire birth on a different a planet? Maybe you wouldn't have
needed so much prodding to live in another solar system as a creature
other than us.
Months later one eye opened, tried to focus on blurry faces. The other
needed two operations before the pieces went together. Two operations
to raise the lid, get the light in and create the scar, the dashed line that
even allows night vision.
I was six the first time you made me ask for death, remember? So sick,
I missed the first grade. Through fevered lips I pushed out your hope to
mother: I wish I were dead. I think I felt the bed rock. You laughed at
her tears, chuckled during her pleas to the doctor. You were the devil.
You made me sick, your allergies keeping my immune system lost
among sinew, nerve endings, cells. How could you keep a small girl
from eating peanut butter with her jelly? How could you keep her from
smearing mustard on hot dogs, or make her stay away from cats, and
dogs and horses? How could I stop the bees from flying, from dipping
into flower after flower, spreading pollen through the air?
You dragged through puberty, reluctant, keeping breasts flat, holding on
to every egg so long I thought there were none, and I read books on
adoption. Finally, one slipped down, the dark blood proof of hope and
future. I was safe, lucky to cross over to men and their cocks, a
wrestling of first loves. My guard down, this is how you got me. I knew
not to get pregnant, how to use birth control and I thought I was safe.
Sex was night shapes, soft skin, someone else's eyes, lazy mornings
turned poison by you. Camouflaged diseases crept on their knees into
nerve endings. Some invaded cells.
You wanted to be a seagull, suspended over the ocean or an eel hugging
the bottom of the sea. I can't count the doctors. You and I in blue paper
gowns are always in synch, nodding and smiling at the nurses. We are
plotting escape. No one wants to say cervical cancer. I can't say it or tell
it, but since the last surgery you've been whispering it, planting it in my
I'm longing for the first grade, my tiny desk the yellow smiley face
pencils, the Pink Pearl eraser, perfect and soft. I want to erase my
awkward cursive as if it were my life. I want to start over.
Now the real battle begins. You and I, squared off, fists raised. On my
side: vitamin A, Chinese herbs, meditation, and tarot. Maybe God is
behind me, large hand gently shoving, because after all this, I can't help
but help you now.
from Global City Review
shh! i'm talking to my body now