Sometimes I wonder
If when my parents first met me,
They spoke to God on bended knee
And said, "What on Earth is she?"
My mother's tongue loose
With the ever convincing persuasion
Of a more-than-her-share dose of medication.
My young father's frightened yet eager eyes,
Like getting a first glance at an unexpected surprise,
That you haven't figured out
Whether or not you can love yet.
And I was wrapped in the blanket
Of their nervous doubt-
But willingness to learn-
Presented to them though most showed concern
Over their lack of age and experience-
I wish I had that moment in a bottle somewhere;
The electricity of their hope in me
Making waves on the air
And later as I wonder where-or why-
My mother hasn't shown up again,
Or how my father and I stopped being friends,
I go back there-to that moment-
And try to start all over.
When I picture my childhood;
not trying to weigh the bad-the good;
When did I become this person?
When was the first time I tasted sin
Like a ripe fruit bursting in my mouth?
Was the influence of living in the South?
My grandmother waking me up too early
For grits at five in the morning.
Should my adolescent tirade against mosquitoes
Have been the first warning?
Was it before or after their fighting?
The birth of my brother merely highlighting
My parents' complete incompatibility.
Was it when I realized I was never unhappy
That they got divorced?
The fear of their yelling abated
By a court-approved mulligan.
When did I learn to lie?
Playing cruel jokes on my brother,
or holding him later as he cried over our mother
Not showing up again.
Which one was the real me?
Staying quiet as that boy slapped my ****,
Laid me down, lifted my legs up, and said,
"Let's play house."
When was the first time I wanted to douse
Myself with gasoline?
Purge myself and
How did I start to hate myself?
And later, when I met my father's saving grace;
What did she see when she looked in my face?
An echo of my father's distance or
the shadow of my mother's abandonment?
Or did she see a blank canvas-
That she could paint her love on?
Where did I learn humility?
When did I begin my refusal of others loving me?
How did I learn to live?
Discover the strength in me to forgive?
When I lifted someone's face to mine,
And told them the only reason they were
Surrounded by the darkest night,
Was because they were the only star shining bright.
What made me push my family away?
My youngest brother not even getting
A call on his birthday;
My sister refusing to wilt in my absence,
like a wild rose-growing without a sister.
When did I realize I missed her?
How did I learn how to stand and be a woman,
With firm convictions that I can believe in?
And if I went back to that moment-now-
Back as far as my life would allow.
Back to that hospital-
Looked my parents in the face
And told them how I turned out,
Would they cry, scream out loud?
Or would they be proud?