Submit your work, meet writers and drop the ads. Become a member
 
ómra 3d
Surviving is:
The empty space in between
the silence on the other side of the line
of my phone call to my mother
after I tell her that I thought of him today.

Surviving is:
That silence growing wide
vast pauses in the conversation of my life
and her voice saying,
"I don't know what to say"
Surviving is the same phone call over and over again, each one more quiet than the last
ómra Jan 28
I grew up in the same place as Billy the Kid--
Grew up the same place and the same way, too.
All coyote-wild, howling, snarling, fighting
in the dirt and in the ditches of the desert.

I used to touch the walls of his mother's house and smell
the same air that he smelled, and when I touched the
smooth stones of a rock, pit-deep in the sand, I thought:
Did he touch this, too?

Did he know this, too?
Did he know what I know, the fear I know--
I told myself no, probably not, but I figured
that he fought for something and I'm fighting too.

Coyote-mad and coyote-*****, paws in the sand
and teeth bared wide in the sun. Hot and dry.
When my papa would run his hands down my face
I would think:

One day I'll **** you, and I'll run away,
and Billy's ghost will meet me at his mother's doorstep
and take me away to where the mountains of the West
meet the wilderness of freedom.
(September 17 or November 23, 1859 – July 14, 1881)
ómra Jan 10
when i was a little girl i used to think that when i spoke my words came out wrong. it didnt matter what i said or how i said them, they must have been wrong because he always got so angry. so mad. like the very sound of my voice just made him angry-- so i got quiet. not like a mouse, though. like a dog that's had its voice snipped: hff. hff. hff. no more barking, just that empty whining whuff.

and when he hit me i was quiet like a dog, a beaten dog that knows when to say yes sir no sir and please, please PLEASE can we not do it today and do it tomorrow just not today please, because i thought maybe he would forget but he never forgot. and then i was like a dog, a little *****, and i was his *****.

he gave me food when he wanted to and when the bones got sharp on my hips he would run his hands over them and say *******, *******. *******. and i would say yes sir and he would hook his fingers on the edge of my mouth and what do we say? aaaaaaah. aaaaah and there it was, in the back of my throat, that scream that just never ever came out. hff. hff.

once when he had some of his war buddies over he said, look at my daughter. look at her. and they looked and he said darlin, what is your favorite thing to eat? what's your favorite food? and i was only nine so i said: steak and mashed potatoes. and he said: what are you, a dog? hff. hff. he said: bark for me. and when his friends had all gone and he had me in the upstairs bedroom and he said *******, *******. he said isn't your favorite food me? hff. hff.

but he was right when he said i was a dog and i was a mad dog, snarling, spitting, foaming at the mouth. biting and chewing and growling and screaming. HFF. HFF. a mad dog and one day i would rip his throat from his body and he would see me and he would say *******, ******* and i would say BARK! BARK!

and then i would wake up and see my bones and his sheets and i would roll over and go back to sleep. hff. hff.
i open my mouth and no sound comes out, he goes in
ómra Nov 2019
I AM GOING THROUGH THE STAGES OF GRIEF
FOR THE LITTLE GIRL THAT I WAS
AND WHEN I SEE HER IN MY CHEST
I WANT TO HOLD HER TIGHT
BUT I KNOW WHAT THAT HOLDING WOULD DO TO HER
BECAUSE I KNOW WHAT HOLDING MEANS TO HER
AND WHO SHE WOULD THINK OF
AND I AM SORRY
i know how she would struggle and cry and say CAN WE NOT GO TONIGHT, PAPA? CAN WE SKIP TONIGHT AND JUST GO TOMORROW, PAPA? PLEASE? PLEASE? PLEASE?
ómra Nov 2019
When my mom gets emotional, she apologizes.
She says that she is sorry, so sorry--
not for this, not for now, but for that. It.

She says:
I am sorry I didn't do anything.
I am sorry I didn't see it.

She says:
I am sorry that I let it happen.
I am sorry that it happened.

She says:
I am sorry that you have to deal
with that. I am so sorry.

But what good does her apology do,
if all it means is that I have to tell her
that it's okay?

It's okay that you didn't do anything.
It's okay that you let it happen.
It's okay that it happened.

It is not okay and it will
never be okay and one day I
will die and it will still not be okay,
okay?
ómra Oct 2019
My family likes to joke that I'm only “civilized” on account of my grandparents. They got me every summer when I was a child and every summer the first thing they’d do is cut the matts out of my hair. Snip, snip.They’d leave the rest cause I’d wail and wail and wouldn’t let them cut it all off. My grandma wanted to buzz it all off but it meant something to me, meant something she couldn’t understand.

When I was a kid and I had to sit in school I would gnaw my fingers raw. I had this buzzing feeling that started in my toes and spread up to my fingers and the only way I could get it out was if I had my hands in some dirt or fur, but there is no dirt and no fur in a classroom. So I’d chew and chew and chew, except when papa put dog **** on them to make me stop. He tried hitting me too but that didn’t work most times on account of I was used to it. I could see it coming and i knew what it meant. Familiar territory, home range.

I knew hunger when I was a kid. We were friends. a doctor at age ten told my mom I was malnourished but he looked at me when he asked her if she knew what it meant. I wanted to say “it means i’m not smart, I'm no good, I don't know my multiplication tables” but she said yes sir I know. And when we got home papa gave me a bag of potato chips and I ate them out in the ditch and that was all I ate that day. My friends say I eat fast.

Inside meant bad things. Inside meant there’s only four doors to go out of and one of them is in his bedroom and we don’t go there unless he tells us to go there, sit there, stay there, lay there. So there’s three doors and one is broken so that’s two doors. And two doors may as well be no doors, because when he tells me “get out” I go and when the locks hit behind me I’m off, like a rocket, like a dog. In the dirt and when I’m hungry I eat pinon nuts and sometimes if I'm brave I ask the neighbors. Do you have a glass of milk?

He could read my mind but I couldn’t read his. So when he wanted me back inside he yelled and yelled and sometimes, when I'm alone, I admit to myself that I pretended I couldn't hear him. When he walks he makes noise, the sand moves away from him and the grasses don’t like to touch him. So I see him and I hear him and I know he’s coming. I press myself into the dirt and the rocks but he can read my mind, he knows where I am. He is angry when he can’t find me right away and oh what a figure he makes, down there, in the valley, so angry. So angry.

I didn't learn my table manners because they were too hard. He said, elbows off the table. And if I wasn’t fast enough he’d move faster, like lightning, to put a fork in my skin. I stopped getting hit by that one when I was eight, quick to his tricks, but he was more clever than me and he had more tricks. Like: chew with your mouth closed. If you don’t, I will come over there and I will take your hair in my hands and I will pull your head back and I will spit in your mouth. And you can spit it out but I won’t like that very much. He never liked it when I spat anything out. So I chew with my mouth closed but sometimes I forget and I look up and back like I expect to see his hands there but they aren’t there. they won’t ever be there.

I liked to touch things with my hands, excepting a few things, but shiny things and smooth things and wet things like mud and sand and bricks. And cars, cause I didn’t see very many of them aside from the school bus and the old red car up on the hill. So when the dust settles and there’s a layer on his Honda CRV I put my hands on it and I feel it and I know it and it knows me. And it watches when he finds the handprints and he calls me, and he says, now put your hands here. And I put my hands on his thighs, and he takes out the fly swatter, and it watches when I cry even though I try hard not to.

I liked the trees. Wood in the desert is different than wood anywhere else, and my favorite was the branches that made the fireplace in my secret hidden wooden house. Trees made the roof and trees made the wall and trees made the fireplace. And two steps over the stone wall and there was my living room. And in my living room he would take his belt off and he would say, you know. You know. And I knew. And even though I knew, I loved the wood on my fireplace because it was mine, and he had no idea. He had no idea that it was mine and not his and that it knew what he did and saw it and one day it was going to come to life and fire would spread and take me into a hug but him it would hate, like I hated him, with an animal sort of hate.

I was a beast, an animal, a wolf, a bear, a horse. I was all sorts of things. I was feral. and I knew this, knew what it meant and what it was, and it was finding a stray kitten under the hood of the car. And the car forgave me for the handprints so it gave me a cat. A little black cat, and I loved her, and I said, mama can we keep her? And she said, I don't know. Let’s ask papa. And papa said: no. And so he took out the rifle and he shot it and he said, I’ll bury it by your hamster. And I said okay. Okay. This is what happens to feral things.

Okay.
ómra Oct 2019
HOW IT FEELS
WHEN YOUR FATHER LOVES YOU:

IT BURNS AND BURNS
AND BURNS AND BURNS
10/20/19
Next page