I am a survivor of ****** abuse.
I grew up between dysfunctional families
where we did not say what was not okay
until I could not remember the first time I had been abused.
But I remember the last.
Now I am the severely depressed survivor
who cannot ride passenger without remembering
his driving me 80 and angrily down a gravel road
who cannot sit in hot water without remembering
his joining my bath
who cannot tell my stories
even when people ask.
Tonight I try…
try to feel happiness as I run in the rain
try to tell the sadness of losing my mother
try to tell you I am not okay.
Tonight I will write stories
about grandma rising from her wheelchair
to be raised up on eagle’s wings
about grandpa who never told me he loved me
before he died
about my brother who goes to Yale
but cannot control his temper.
I will write stories, my stories
And I will let you read
If you will help me write.
I begin with this poem
We have talked, tonight,
about the function of the subconscious –
whether it shapes my dreams
forgets your nights
clouds our judgment
or whether it is simply a figment
of the scholars’ imaginations
an out for the unexplainable
a possibility for a girl who has too many
I call to evidence the empty bottles
in your sacred hands,
the you that is trying to escape the frigid confines
of a strict upbringing.
I call to evidence my bowl of cherrios
tucked between burnt *******
the liquid courage that enables
the dripping of my secrets.
You are a lover of words,
a man who knows the simplicity of each syllable
and the power behind one’s expression,
but I find you a hypocrite
as you thank me for my story and do not realize
that I have not expressed
You are exactly right,
the difference between recounting, reliving,
telling, communicating, and explaining
comes down to more than a metanarrative detail.
The words that you have studied
comfort you and frame our conversation
yet veil the greater truth.
You are a lover of emotion
the same emotion you fear is gay
that you have only discovered on your feminine side
which falls down your face in the middle of my narrative
and clenches your fists
You say you cannot sympathize empathize
but maybe you feel.
It was nice to meet you.
I was a little girl once
lying back down on a scratchy old blanket
wishing on stars and listening
to coyotes howl at the moon.
Sometimes it's hard to know the difference
between a wish and a prayer
a hope and a dream
between life and loss.
This morning I woke up to live
got out of bed
I felt the satisfaction of productivity
warm sun on my back during a
half smoked cigarette
the frustration of a roommate
the bitterness of a carbonated beverage
strength in my body
today I live the first day of my life
and it feels good
let emotion be evoked
today I let the world embrace me
today I am born
I am learning to be touched
Strong fingers massaging tension from my back
Warm hugs because we care
The playful acceptance of a high five
Our butts touching in tiny train seats as we sleep through the night
I am learning to be touched
To admire a man and wish he was family
To talk to a friend until it hurts
Reaching for memories filed away
I’m learning to write about it
To talk about it
Last night we sat with hot chocolate and tea
Each revealing his pain to help the others heal
Arguments about blood, love, family, caring
Teaching me the meaning of friends.
The world began to make sense
Held in the hands of those who care
Molded into a manageable crisis as I was
Sculpted into my own Winged Victory
This morning I took off my pants, changing clothes
Half naked in front of another
Speaking my nightmares, my fears, of my father
Fully naked in another sense
She says, “thank you for sharing”
She means, “I am touched”
Winged Victory is a statue of Nike currently located in the Louvre.
I lie awake at night
thinking of the past, the current, the future.
the “what if”s the “had been”s
each choice I made at each fork in the road
the loves and losses and lessons learned.
I mouth the words I dream of speaking,
feel the tears I cannot cry.
tossing and turning my body fights back
for all the times I didn’t object.
my heart struggles to remember
how we made it.
why we’re here.
I lie awake at night
bars of music crashing into assignments
above angry undertones a tragic melody
darkness traps my mind in consciousness
I know I think too much
“Let go. Let’s sleep”
There are some things you should tell a person
like when their shirt is untucked
or you like their hair
or when they’ve got something in their teeth.
There are some things that you should not say
like when someone looks fat
or they talk funny
or you don’t like their siblings.
And there are some things people just know
like when someone has good energy
or when they need to talk
or when you’re going to be good friends
But today you asked me to introduce myself
and I did not know how to say my name
or tell you I survived
or whether I should mention my lack of family
or if I should tell you why I sleep so much
and what my nightmares were last night
or what my father used to say
and where I was when my grandfather died
why my grandma loves that song
or why I am uncomfortable hot springing with someone I know
and why I don’t ride in cars
There are sometimes when you play it safe
follow the rules
reveal only enough
keep it to four lines
Piece 1 of Ghost Ranch series