I’ve been writing ever since I can remember. I think I got it from my mother who also writes as though words are leaking from her fingers like blood leaks from fresh wounds. It’s not something I chose.
Words have always been an escape and I think all stories are lessons. Being able to create different worlds and characters with language is a very real magic. It is an art that I will probably never be the master of but the only one that I think is worth my time.
With my writings I will create my own world and attempt to understand the one I have to physically live in. It’ll be anything but easy and I hope you find the time to join me.
When I was 10 and my mom had re-married and was gone on her honeymoon, I knew we were leaving.
Strange things have always touched my heart;
the shady corners of buildings at the end of the day when the sun feels indecisive, empty rooms, and lonely feet.
A big, red-headed man lives in the bathroom and though he has no feet I hope he isn’t lonely with us gone; I hope the rooms stay warm and full. I hope he’s kind enough to wake the kids up on time for Saturday morning cartoons like he sometimes did for me.
I remember thinking that thought one night and getting out of bed to watch grandma pray from her open doorway. She didn’t kneel like you’d think someone would; she stood tall and straight with her hands intertwined and close to her nose - her eyes shut tight. Bobbing up and down on the balls of her feet she’d whisper tiny words to the shrine of saints she had arranged, just so, on the top of her dresser.
Usually, when I felt restless just before bed, I’d try to get her attention by crawling into her place in bed and asking her questions or raising the volume of her television a little higher, letting the dog out when I knew he wasn’t supposed to be; anything to get her to stop her whispering and pay attention to me. She never did though.
But right then, I just wanted to watch her.
I closed my eyes and tried to see if I could picture the scene exactly as I had seen it. If I had to, could I paint a perfect picture?
Realizing that I couldn’t, made me anxious. I opened my eyes and found grandma’s staring back at me. She smiled and little wrinkles formed around her eyes. When she had closed them again I went back to my room and grabbed my small, child’s camera (purple and shaped like a doughnut).
I went around taking pictures of our rooms.
Would they still be ours when we left?
Whenever all I had left was the bathroom to capture, grandma had already turned off most of the lights and grandpa was still taking a shower. She called me in to bless me before she went to sleep and I decided to lay down beside her for a while. She was smoothing my hair back and I was just beginning to fall asleep when grandpa finally came in all fresh and steamy. I got up, kissed them both goodnight and shut their door on my way out.
I turned on the light in the bathroom and tried to find the right angle through my purple doughnut, but it was harder than it had been with the other rooms. The steam from my grandpa’s shower had fogged up all the mirrors and made the place too hot to comfortably stand in. My blurry reflection bounced off the mirrors and made me dizzy.
The big red-headed man wouldn’t come out if it was too bright, right? I wouldn’t be able to complete my collection of photos without the big red-headed man. So, I turned off the light and stepped outside into the hallway. I looked down at my bare feet; the only light in the entire house, the light from my room, was peeking from my cracked door and highlighting my toes. Usually they’d seem lonely, but somehow they weren’t.
I held the camera out and away from me instead of up and close to my eye. With my arm stretched out in front of me, inside the bathroom, I pressed the button. There was a bright, white flash, and then a burst of colors as my eyes adjusted. A remaining smudge of red was in the upper corner of the bathroom, just above the shower, when it was almost completely dark again.
When I had the film developed, the picture I had taken of the bathroom was the only one that was missing. I like to think the big red-headed man kept it for himself.
Passing the plastic skeletons on display, I wonder
if their empty chests have ever felt
the first thump, thump, thump of new love,
or the deep chill of a finger running down their spine,
under warm sheets on a rainy night.
If they’re lonely,
propped up on those stands, not really scaring anyone.
They scare me,
those empty, clattering, bones and black eyes;
they’re life without you.
A Different Kind
Old wooden boats, tattered and worn from long days of work,
sigh and moan as they sail out to sea.
The longing silhouettes of fishermen ripple in the water as they look back to shore;
figures dance in the crisp moonlight.
Women wearing dark purples and blues, blood reds and stainless whites,
raise their hands up and twist.
Their shapes stretch and contort as they spin in and out of darkness.
Their mouths curve up into horrible smiles; their laughs like nightmares.
Watching them is nauseating;
around and around and around and around.
Their toes dig deep into the sand, leaving dents as they whip past;
darkness fills them.
Around and around and around and around;
they whip past again, making new holes as the older ones fill with sand.
Reaching up and twisting towards the moon,
they ask her if she approves of their work.
In response, black clouds drift further and further away,
and the beach floods with light.
The fishermen sit and watch from where their boat rocks silently in the sea;
they wonder if the moon truly is that naive.
Does she simply smile down at the freshly-cratered beach,
or is she too, weary of how quickly they succumbed to her,
and betrayed the only home they’d ever known.
I let him kiss the moon I carved over my heart when I was sixteen.
He’d never kissed any other part of me; said he never would.
I trace the place where his lips meet my skin with my fingers and I wonder why I don’t wish for more. His kisses leave me empty but I know the depth I have inside of me yearns for something he could never give.
He says I’m too far up.
I’m always gone, and his thoughts like to imagine me among the stars.
He says, “Maybe your heart really is a moon.”
He’s the only the man that’s ever set foot on my moon and even then there was a boundary; he wasn’t able to reach into and past all its’ cold, hard rock to where I lay curled up at the core.
I wouldn’t let him.
He has someone by his side now. A pretty little fair-haired thing who sparkles with the residue of true star stuff. She has galaxies of love for veins and supernovas every color imaginable for eyes.
Her heart is a sun and it burns fierce and strong; it burns for him.
Even so, his lips find their way back to my chest and he tells me how he yearns for me despite all the beauty and brightness she holds within her. I place my fingers around his throat to feel him speak.
Something broke in me long ago and has remained broken still. There is a darkness in me, though not particularly evil, dark enough to keep me from turning him away. Dark enough to keep me from feeling or wanting to feel.
He believes there’s a mystery to me; a secret to the moon, just as everyone else does.
There is no secret.
I am rock.
I am cold.
I am empty.
I am dark.
I write, but what for?
They say she paints her nails with the blood of her victims; her cuticles permanently stained with the red of hundreds of lost lives. That when she applies a fresh coat she brushes the back of her hands across her cheeks, eyelids, lips. Running her fingers through her hair she inhales the scent as it mixes with her own. Chewing on the coating of her nails throughout her day as a snack gives her pale lips a bright red tint. Her smile a horrible flower; a dead rose peeking through the snow.
Her eyes were like old books. Her palms ridden with the indents left by her finger-nails from her clenching her fists too hard.
She goes through life angry and full of hate, now. Her pages tattered and worn; the words almost undecipherable as a result of having repeated the same mistakes over and over again.
She’d tried mending the holes in her heart by covering them with patches; sewing the seams just so; the patches overlapping each other until her heart was completely covered in them.
She would let herself love again.
Each time forgetting to prepare the sewing kit and each time needing more thread than she did the time before.
Eventually she came to think of herself as a master book-binder. Because, she knew, better than anyone, that hearts wear down the same way books do: by being touched too often.
But a time passed without the need for any needles and thread and patch-making and her skills grew weak.
She didn’t even notice the signs, blissful as she was.
But the day did come, as it always does, and this heart break was so overwhelming the already-worn-down seams of her old patches began to rip. She brought out the sewing kit and frantically tried to repair the damage done, beginning with the freshest wound.
But there wasn’t nearly enough thread.
Her needle was rusty from years of use and then years of being left alone.
The seams were too worn, the fresh wound was spreading too fast; they would not wait.
She was scrambling to find new materials as fast as she could, feeling the cloth from the patches come loose and float up and form into a clump in her throat; they did not wait.
Unable to bear with the pain any longer, she fell to her knees and cried and cried until the clump came out and the bleeding had slowed and she was able to breath again.
No longer a master book binder, she goes through life angry and full of hate, now. Her wounds are always bleeding.
People have no use for old books when they already know the story.
Books have no use for book-binders when they cease to be read.
She has no use for love. Not when it’s only ever left her lonely and empty and afraid.
Our home was a reasonable size, though shabby, and I remember the kitchen didn’t have a floor at the time. I was around five years old. It was the end of Fall or the beginning of Spring and the weather was beautiful, and in Texas that’s pretty rare. So were happy times, which I remember this was. Mom was sitting in the old rocking chair we’d bought at the flea market taking a drag of her cigarette. Dad was inside getting something before we went out to eat or to the store or somewhere.
It’s funny. Even though I know this was a happy time and that they should have been happy together, they aren’t. Not in any of my memories. They were always at their happiest when they were a part. At least, until they got separated. That’s something I never understood. Why were they so unhappy being apart when they were always fighting to get away from each other?
Now I’m stepping off our porch and onto the garden-type window sills of our smallest living room. I say garden, but really it was always just dirt.
Mom isn’t looking at me. I don’t remember her ever looking at me, though she’s told me she never knew how to stop. That she still doesn’tknow how to stop.
I’m skipping across the narrow strip and the fact that I can do it so easily makes me feel like anything is possible. I don’t know why but as I’m skipping back to mom, I put my right hand over my heart and I start saying the pledge of allegiance, because they’ve just started teaching it in school. I tell mom, “I know the pledge of allegiance, now.” She looks at me and says “Oh really?” and then I can’t remember. I can’t remember the pledge and I say it wrong and she laughs because she can’t remember it either. Dad walks out then and sees us laughing and asks if we’re ready to go. We say yes, but I don’t remember us moving. I remember my hand was still over my heart as the sun was going down. I remember Dad wasn’t looking at Mom and Mom wasn’t looking at Dad. They were looking up. I don’t remember at what, but they looked happy. I remember being happy, too.