Pierce a vein and watch calligraphy spill on the page. India ink replaces deoxygenated blood. My heart starves for the passion the stars contain. My heart is empty except for the galaxies that glimmer inside of aortas and dwell in ventricles.
I have spent lifetimes hiding behind the gauzy veil of metaphors and similes. I still manage to somehow sever through memories, fantasy, and autobiography. When you are handed a time bomb, you don’t have time to pause and rehearse the perfect line.
My thoughts are not always beautiful, but like my penmanship, they showcase the chaos and tumult within. I have been compared to a tornado before, but I always try to clean up the messes I leave behind. I would much rather be a natural disaster than an unyielding and unforgiving ghost.
I have told stories for as long as I can remember. As a toddler, I babbled to my mother about memories of previous lives. I told her about East Hollywood like it was a place I had been when all I had known was the gateway to the west.
I will keep imagining until the disease that stripped my grandmother of her memories and left her vulnerable steals my words and empties them of all meaning like the thief who robs a safe or picks a pocket. I sometimes worry I will grow stale, a piece of bread left out for too many days, or that I will wilt, a flower not watered and left to perish, but until that day comes, I will keep leaving out these dictionary pages rearranged in hopes that they will create a sparkle in someone’s eyes.
Please don’t read if you are hemophobic (afraid of blood).
I was the contestant on a reality show, and all the women were stripped down naked, led to showers. When the shower heads turned on, blood sprayed from the spigots and I swallowed some. I slipped and fell in it, blood coating one side of my body.
I put on a hospital gown and the blood seeped through. I was walked into a church and sat beside a teenage boy who was a cutter. His wrists and forearms were covered in scars. He held onto a notebook where he sketched pictures of me and wrote me poems.
He clung to me while trying to push me away, telling me lust was a sin. When I tried to speak to him, he silenced me and brought me back to the showers where he tried to rape me.
A shriek echoed inside of my head like the sound of a metal saw blade grinding against a sheetof metal. I ground my teeth against each other, squeezing my eyes shut. When I opened them again, I was in the kitchen of a group home, making pancakes.
A younger guy, probably in his mid-teens who seemed to be a little intellectually delayed, approached me and asked me if he could go outside and play basketball as I made breakfast. He kept describing another guy in the group home as his surgeon. I thought it was a harmless delusion, so I told them to go play basketball outside until breakfast was ready.
I went outside to tell them breakfast was ready and the guy I identified as my brother (the one who initially approached me about playing basketball) was wailing in heart-wrenching pain. At first, I thought his arm had twisted around his back at an awkward angle, but then I saw from his elbow down, his arm was missing. Dark crimson red blood was everywhere. His screams were agonizing. The bone left behind was black from oxygen depletion and decaying.
The boy they called the surgeon showed me the saw they had used and pointed out the jar with his lower arm sealed inside. The water they kept it in was red with blood.
The guy I identified as my brother sniffled and told me that it was okay because his arm was infected and had to be sawed off to be saved.
If I told you I remembered the moment I was formed, you’d call me a liar, and I am anything but. A whooshing sound like a strong wind gusted over me, but this was before we knew wind. She told me it was formless when She began. She even described to me how she scooped the waters together in the cup of her hand and separated the liquid from the air- water from sky.
The next day, She gathered the waters to dwell in one place and then, distributed the land. She created trees and shrubbery and flowers and plants of all kind. She did not stop. Animals still needed to be shaped. As though She was molding clay, She formed all these things.
She explained that to create me, She used dust and the Breath of Life. Sometimes, I doubt She is capable of all this.
But to doubt is to show faith.
She told me to believe.
And so, I did.
After She explained my task-the maintenance of the garden,a deep longing for sleepconsumed me. She warned me not to eat from a specific tree. That was easy. She told me to name the creatures. That, too, was easy. All the tasks seemed reasonable. The demands? Not the type to splinter my soul. But the ground was warm and soft, my head was heavy, and I slept.
The rays of sun warmed my naked ass, and yet, I feared nothing. She had created me from dust and the Breath of Life.
Idid not feel it, but she opened my flesh, and from it, she stole a bone that was pleasing.Thisbone was called a rib, and when my flesh concealed the bones once more, I had not missed what was taken. This was the first time she had taken from me. She had given me so much. The least I could do was give a rib. In exchange, she gave me a companion.
I had never seen a beast like this: She told me the beast resembled me, but it was beautiful,and I was not beautiful. Her loveliness blistered me, yet I did not feel a warmth to my cheeks like the Creator Goddess described. I wanted to run my hands over her skin and feel its smoothness under my callouses. I longed to touch her bare flesh and feel it rise and fall beneath me.
It was though I was breaking into several pieces all at once because I wanted to teach her the animals I had named, but I also wanted to be very still and simply breathe with her.
Idid not want to restrict her freedoms. She reminded me so much of the Creator Goddess. Their voices rose and fell in the same patterns. Though I had not seen the Creator Goddess yet, She was vast. (Much too vast for me to comprehend.) Subsequently, this beast was vast in her beauty. Understanding her was like trying to describe how the Creator Goddess separated the air from the water. This creature’s voice flowed over me like a babbling brook.
I let her explore. I wanted her to seek whatever it was she chose to seek. She reached her hands out to touch the animals, explore their furs and hides, and marvel at the beauty of plants. But she was the gift I never deserved but desired. I had never seen beauty like hers. Not in the peacock’s plumage or the giraffe’s great heights. The way her hips swayed when she walked? It was extraordinary.
I watched her, but I did not try to keep her like I kept the flowers.
I did not want to possess her. Own her.
The flowers I wanted to shower her with grew taller than both of us, demonstrating to me that I was not in charge. I never was. I was unable to hold the cool waters I wanted her to feel caressagainst her skin could not be contained, but it was right. It was good.
I walked without direction. I aimed without path. She traveled in one direction and I, the other. It was not intentional. If I had set forth intention, I would never be separated from her. Except that rib. That rib separated us. She came from me, not from the vast She who created everything else in this garden.
She went alone. I heard her speaking to one of the animals, and I thought this to be good. It was wise she learned their names and who better to teach them their names than the animals themselves?
I did not listen, but her voice floated, the syllables breaking apart and separating. I could not hear individual words, but these syllables were delicious, inviting. I wanted to learn her body as intimately as my own. There was a reason she was created.
I was not tobe alone in this world.
She ran toward me, her legs flying up barely touching the earth. Her excitement was contagious. That laugh-luxurious. The way she threw her head back as she collided into me intoxicated me. I was under her spell. She thrust a small fruit into my hands. Its coloring was the color of the sky at night. I had not seen a fruit like it before, but I had not explored the same places as she. She found places deep within the garden I had not yet seen.
She fed it to me, its nectar sticky as it dribbled down our chins. We smiled, our gazes soft upon each other. The moment was blissful, but it was just that: a moment.
I wanted to devour her. Swallow her whole. I wanted to take back what was mine. This garden was not meant to be shared. She was never meant to be. Her voice? Far from melodious. It was the sound of claws scraping against my own flesh. She had destroyed me. She had stolen a rib from me, and the wretched woman bared her teeth to me in a smile like it was meant to be a forgiving feature. She was hideous.
I could not drag my nails against her skin nor could I flay her. She was not my creation. She was not mine to destroy. But she had slept against my skin: bone against bone. She had been my rib, and now, she was formed. A monstrosity.
Why did I ever find this repulsive creature to be attractive? I wanted to cover her. Throw leaves over her and create a pyre.
The vast She that created me did not make mistakes, then why was this woman looking at me with desire in her eyes? She had fed me the fruit of knowledge, and this was knowledge I could not untangle. I could not imagine touching her. Being so near her that I could smell the cologne of her musk made bile rise to my throat.
When I was young, perhaps eleven or twelve, I read the poem “Silence” by Marianne Moore. It was right around the time that I had started to explore my own poetry and craft my own metaphors. I remember the phrase “the glass flowers at Harvard” sticking out to me in a beautiful way.
At the time, it was a lovely phrase in the midst of a mixture of words that didn’t make sense to me. Now, on rereading it as an adult, I see how beautiful and eloquent Moore’s entire poem was. It speaks to me on a level that it did not when I was a child.
My father used to say,
"Superior people never make long visits,
have to be shown Longfellow's grave
or the glass flowers at Harvard.Self-reliant like the cat-
that takes its prey to privacy,
the mouse's limp tail hanging like a shoelace from its mouth-
they sometimes enjoy solitude,
and can be robbed of speech,
by speech which has delighted them.
The deepest feeling always shows itself in silence;
not in silence, but restraint."
Nor was he insincere in saying, "Make my house your inn."
Inns are not residences.
Given my childhood, it’s funny what pierces my heart and stabs my soul. It’s not the beauty of the phrase “the glass flowers at Harvard” (though, to Moore’s credit, that is a wonderful turn of phrase). It’s the last two lines of the poem.
Without getting too autobiographical, my childhood home felt as though it was curated for an interior design magazine. It did not feel like a home. I felt like I was walking into a stranger’s house every time I came home.
Home is such an interesting concept to me. I would love to explore the idea of it more in my writing.
PS: Anyone interested in reading an excerpt of a short story I’m working on?
My eyes burn dully– twin lanterns that have been flickering for decades. (Every time I swallow, I taste kerosene.)
Looking out, nothing but darkness on the horizon. A storm churns clouds in the haunted sky, & I shudder from the bitter chill. (It’s this cold that makes my spine jerk and spasm.)
In the distance, I no longer smell the burning leaves of autumn- instead, I smell smoldering corpses.
Mouth clamped shut, this taste is the copper of blood. (I had been biting my tongue so long, I have forgotten the taste of my own words.)
Ear tilted toward the skies, thunder roars a warning cry, and I am yet to heed its warning.
A thousand men lie dying at my feet, and it is my heart that is the battleground. (Do they not realize this is a metaphor, and I would rather taste bile than my own bitter heartbreak?)
I feel like I belong in an Edvard Munch painting or something by Magritte, but do you see me in a gilded frame hanging in the Museum of Modern Art? My own heartbreak is taste familiar to me, and I would rather linger with the devil I do know than the devil I do not.
The devil resides in a land where the damned smell burning corpses all day, and though the odor rouses a certain sense of familiarity, I would rather run than fight the inevitable.
Former friends and lovers, those I once knew, are now nothing but ghosts. (Perhaps they are ghosts because my memory falters, maybe they exist on another plane of consciousness and wait for me to wake out of my fog and think me the ghost.)
A dense fog of sadness spreads its misty fingers over me in that lonesome field. (Clutching at my heart, that chill that spoke to me. My spine jerks and spasms.)
This frostbite burns everything it consumes- a conflagration of icicles going up in flame, like stalagmites crafted of ice & fire. The mere sight of it is enough to drive a sane person to lunacy.
As I take my first step plunging forward, I shuffle through the fire and ice and emerge- unscathed.
Little bo Peep trembles under a parasol, tears cascading down her cheeks, crying out, “Where have my sheep gone? Why do my eyes burn so dully? Where has my happiness gone?”
A bleak day to discover paradise- the muddy sky will lose all its meaning. We have lost what we are searching for.
Loneliness is our only path to salvation. It is in our suffering that we find bliss. (Amantes sunt amuntes- lovers are lunatics as this barren landscape is all we know now.)
These twin lanterns that were once my eyes have lost all light. We must trudge forward & hope someday, this suffering shall guide us (toward our bliss).
I wrote a handful of poems (and countless letters) while pregnant. I have decided to share a couple that I feel comfortable sharing here.I have also written and published a poem about the boys I birthed in the collection “Under a Blushing Sky”.
Baby. Little Mister. My miracle. (Never an accident, never a mistake, an unexpected twist of fate, but the road of life is always circuitous, always winding.)
“Is it a boy or a girl?” your daddy asked. Before I knew, we guessed you to be a boy. (Who knew we’d be right?)
We cried over you so many nights (never an accident, never a mistake, always a miracle).
We love you with such strength, such ferocity.
We’re in love with you since Day 1, since the test came back saying “yes”, since the first ultrasound where we looked at your tiny little toes and studied your tiny little fingers and watched (scrutinized) your tiny little wave. (Your silly little wave I now emulate to your daddy to make him chuckle- hand plastered to your tiny little forehead, tiny little fingers poking out and wiggling.)
The technician said, “It looks like he’s trying to give you the Loser sign.” (Your index finger and thumb in the shape of an L on your forehead.)
I said, “That’s his daddy in him,” and laughed a little bit.
I’d be lying if I didn’t say I cried a little bit too. Little Mister.
I’d be lying if I didn’t say I’m crying. I’m crying a lot right now.
Daddy and I talked to you. I wrote you letters. (Daddy used to laugh because I wanted to make a plaster of my stomach and have you crawl into it for pictures- a baby in a bowl. I wanted to paint it with you eventually.)
Daddy held me and held underneath my big tummy (big with you)
like it was a prize in a Cracker Jack box. He’d hold you and talk to you.
Just know we’ve loved you all along.
“Upon Seeing You for the First Time”
Upon seeing you, I know my heart will skip a beat. Upon seeing you, I know my heart will grow weak. I fell in love with you from the start. (Your hand cupped around my lone finger, your eyes staring beseechingly into my own.)
Some days, I go through these photographs we took and laugh. Some days, I cry.
I took a week to write this post because I wanted to make sure I chose my words carefully. I write a lot of poetry about my own experiences because it is cathartic for me, but I also write it so people who might be in the situation I once found myself in know that they are not alone. Therefore, I write poetry that touches on various traumas, abuse, mental illness, and more. It is healing for me, and I hope, some day, healing for my readers.
I have explicitly said to fellow authors that I do not want my blog to become a diary. [The Anna Nalick song “Breathe (2 A.M.)” comes to mind…] However, I am aware that I am transparent in my poetry, and as a result, I want this blog to also be fairly transparent.
Mother’s Day is not an easy holiday for me. I was raised by abusive parents with my mother being diagnosed with Narcissistic Personality Disorder later in life and my father being diagnosed with ASD. As I touched on in a previous poem Silly Girl: a Poem, I have two sons I gave up for adoption. Therefore, the holiday (Mother’s Day) is fraught with emotional overload for me.
I treasure the boys I created in my womb for nine months at a time. I adored how it felt to take care of myself because I was busy creating life, a life-that as it was still inside me-that loved me unconditionally. I remember reading at the time, if a pregnant spider feels fear, her baby too feels the heightened sensations that the pregnant spider feels-this might not be true, I’m not an entomologist-yet the message stuck with me. If I began to feel fear, I thought of that little baby spider.
But nonetheless, the adoption process is emotionally draining. I decided two months before giving birth to place my first son for adoption. It wasn’t an easy decision nor one I made lightly.
We agreed to an open adoption, yet through the agency policies, we weren’t allowed to know their last names or phone number. That changed over time. I was also only allowed to see him a maximum of four times a year. That changed too.
Last time I saw the two boys, they were becoming so mature. The one dictated a short story on my typewriter explaining every event that happened that day, making sure to include that “painting with Izzie was the best part”.
He also asked me my favorite color while we were painting. Off-guard by the question, I responded purple. Then, he snuck into my art studio before dinner and painted me a heart on a purple background.
I found it after they left and cried.
The youngest typed a story too, but he’s hurting so his was all about his adoptive parents and their pets.
He needs answers. Answers that aren’t easy to give.
Why wasn’t my birth dad at the hospital when I was born?
Why do we never see him?
Does he love me?
I originally had some answers prepared, but he caught me off-guard. I fumbled with awkward responses.
This brings me back to Mother’s Day. Most people wish specific women a happy Mother’s Day, usually women with children, or women of a certain age, or even women who look like moms.
As a birth mother, I don’t often get wished a happy Mother’s Day. It’s one of those taboo topics people still struggle to understand: like abortion, gender identity, or addiction. I encourage people to ask me questions about the adoptions.
I sat on a panel a few years ago, answering questions from prospective adoptive parents. It was rewarding to be able to help them through the process and give an accurate, honest look into the way it all plays out.
Yet despite my openness and willing to discuss this (as I think being more open than it being a taboo subject would help erase the stigma around adoption), I still have days where it hurts…like Mother’s Day.
This, coupled with a mother who abused me for not being perfect, makes Mother’s Day difficult.
Let’s not forget the nontraditional mothers next year: birth mothers, adoptive moms, foster moms, mothers of angel babies, expectant mothers, single mothers, moms who don’t talk to or see their children because of estrangement, et cetera, et cetera.
All mothers should be cherished this day.
That being said, I dug around this past week and discovered a couple of poems I wrote for Baby.
Hopefully you’ll be interested in reading them as they further open up the issue I’m addressing in this post.
My heart has been wallpapered in love letters, and its hinge that was once rusty and worn now gleams like new. (When we exchanged glances that evening, you provided me with a heart transplant– trading in the antiquated for something fresh still in its packaging.)
The peppermint scent of you inflates my lungs. (The inhalation is so much sweeter for having known you.) Your breath curls around my ear, warming the core of me. I taste your passion as my lips lock onto yours like a zipper catching. Your whispers blade through me, sending shivers crumbling down my back.
Romance is a beautiful death (one in which I don’t mind dying daily). Your eyes are as turquoise blue as the seas & I never thought that I would feel at home in a sailboat. My quarters have been wallpapered in love letters. When my stomach quivers, I don’t know if it’s anticipation or nerves.
I used to fear intimacy-the dark corners and hushed voices. The taste of nightfall & midnight always suited me before you came around. (It is the glow of constellations that I see spark from your own starry, starry glances.)
You are like a painting by van Gogh, and I am not one to roam the Saint Louis Art Museum, searching for love (yet I would wander every corridor if it meant seeing your face at the end of the hall).
-painting “Cafe Terrace at Night”, 1888, Vincent van Gogh-