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Jan 2014
I was young when I learned to sing
to the rhythm of fists
flying through the air
like birds too angry
with the season to call.
I was young when I thought a tune
could drown the sounds
of my mother’s sobs
crashing through hallways
in tidal waves and monsoon misery.
I was young when I carved
songs in the wallpaper
and into my delicate skin.
I turned bruises into syncopated beats
and scars into major scales.
My stepfather hated music
but I was an ornery child,
and I sang of joyous things
just to see if his soul could dance,
but instead,
I got two left feet in swift kicks.
When I was was young I was afraid of sticks
because I thought my body was a drum
to be beaten and battered
to a punishing rhythm.
I was young when I learned
that the taste of blood on my lip
was merely the flicker before the intermission;
the finale would be a grand display
of pomp, punch, and unlucky circumstance.
My mother was a tone-deaf drunk
who never learned to sing.
She belted begging in B flat octaves
like it was the only note she knew.
She wept an ocean of sorrow
as I sang my S.O.S.
“God, save our sinking ship.”
“God, save our sinking souls.”
“God, save our sorry stepfather from himself.”
And when I thought to cry,
I sang my little heart out instead.
I sang of devil's meeting end,
and I sang of daughter's finding love,
and I sang of mother's finding
strength enough to leave,
and I sang to the happy families
that only existed in sitcoms,
because my stepfather hated music
but I hated him far more.
Written by
Randi B
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