Saturday, June 8, 2013

Last night

My eight year old daughter’s toes are sticking out from the fuzzy tiger blanket that only smells slightly like dog pee, and I hold her close as I read to her. Her pink nightgown is warm against me, and I am lulled by the sound of my own voice. Words like Argonath and Lothl√≥rien knot my tongue as we weave our way through Middle Earth, and her eyes shine when I talk about runes and elves and tangled forests full of strange creatures.  It is late.

She is breathing slowly and deeply and I know that soon her eyes will close in sleep.  Suddenly she shakes the blanket off, her hands trails down my arm from where it rested on my shoulder, and I freeze and struggle to continue reading.  Looking down, I see her tiny brown fingers trace scars that normally hide themselves under layers of clothing, like thick curtains between my inner world and the relentless external – that outside world that cannot live without me, that needs me to be okay. In my peripheral vision I watch as her dark eyes fixate on years of accumulated pain – thick, raised lines of shame. Her fingers feel cool against my skin. 

“What happened, Bobby?” she asks, pulling away so that she can have a better look. I hold my breath for a minute. Think, Damien.

“I used to be in a lot of pain,” I said, and waited for her to say something, but she didn’t, so I continued. “It started when I was about your age.” My mind went to a place of darkness, a life that was black as night.

“I’m sorry,” she says, and I turn on my side so that I am facing her. For a moment I search for something of myself in her face, and there it is.  It’s a twinkle, a shine in her eyes that tells me that she feels. I also know that she is no stranger to pain.  Tears run down the side of my cheek onto my pillow, and my heart is racing. She isn’t afraid. “Does it hurt?” she asks, and I instinctively shake my head, clearing my throat.

“It did for a long time,” I say, “Sometimes it still does.  I just know how to handle it better now.” She nods and a cat climbs up on the bed and licks my face with a sandpaper tongue. Our hands reach out in the lamplight at the same time, ruffling his soft grey fur, and we laugh.

Monday, December 17, 2012


"I'm alone," she says.
"I want my mother."
 We rise like zombies from graves of blood that were made for us with love.
 Once risen we stumble, searching.
"I want my mother," she repeats and keeps her eye on the door but no one ever comes.
We were once babies, all of us, and we once cried for someone.  Some of us were rocked and heard soft voices in the night.  The rest of us stopped wailing after a time and wept inwardly instead.
"I am alone," she says.
And people walk by, holding hands, and she weeps
And people walk by, laughing, and she weeps.
Because something was lost, long ago
We travel forever down these bloody rainbows, attached to nothing


every day I live my roots
praying to mary,
blessed antithesis of my self
co-dependent but warm
 i pray to mary that
she will save me

crouched by my bed i live my roots
pray to mary that i am not my mother
that the face in the mirror is faceless

bleary mornings i live my roots
explain to the wallpaper
why i can't speak

because in this bedroom
time stops
and stuffed animals kneel
on the blanket of my heart
where bedbugs bite and women fall over and over again

To Hart, whom God created

to Hart, Whom God Created
Face hidden by one phantom hand, you are exquisite.
Hart, God knows where you are hiding.


It made me sad to see her pictures, my sister says, green eyes gleaming in the moonlight.  We're driving and I know what she means.

Because somewhere out there in the night there is a woman who seems not to have any photographs at all.  But there are, and we have seen them.

In my peripheral vision, from the window of the car, I see her.  She's skipping rope or holding a baby doll, smile fixed like a moment captured in ice, dark hair framing her tiny European features.  She looks like she is happy.

A moment later she is in flared blue jeans and that same smile, only now it is sunless and there are other people there too.   Then more, but she is disappearing in the rain and when I roll down my window to call out her name, she is gone.

This is where I came from, this frightened dilution of self.

She was pretty, my sister says and I realize suddenly how tired I am.  I want to cradle this invisible creature, this woman who disappeared as if by magic while we were looking the other way.