When she gave birth to the daughter
who would cause her screams,
she did not know she was giving birth
to her own death 20 years later-
a death that would silence those screams.
She lived a life without regrets,
but then, she had no memory.
It was bliss.
For if only he’d known she’d asked for him,
he wouldn’t have left Tara,
with Ashley alone & aggrieved,
the remnants of The Old South–
burnt and faded from Bonnie Blue
to bleached denim–
the last of which was
gone with the wind.
She was sorry she ever lied,
for because of her lie,
the lie became a truth.
For she’d wanted 7 children
& 1 husband,
but ended up with 7 husbands
& 1 child–
all because she had put
her husbands before the 1.
What Money Bought Her
It bought her healthy food,
safe and clean shelter,
and quality medical care.
It paid for her college education,
which paid off with a career she loved
so that she could escape the job she loathed.
It bought books the library did not have
and toys for those who had little.
It paid for the technology
that connected her to the world.
It gave her family the ability to see that world,
unfiltered through a screen.
It paid for the piano lessons
for her autistic daughter;
for the horse she rode
to alleviate her anxiety.
Whether the money came from herself,
or from charity,
it was money that afforded her these things.
No, it didn’t buy everything,
but it bought everything else.
Years ago, I remember watching the music video of Martina McBride’s “Independence Day.” It’s a great song (even though Sean Hannity uses it for his radio show/talking points monologue).
As a girl, I thought the song was simply about the Fourth of July, just as I thought “Rocky Mountain High” by John Denver was about a high school.
Ah, the innocence of children.
She leaned on him,
but when he fell,
she found that she was
sure of herself in every way
except her decision
to pick the right one
a second time.
She was a goddess of the Domestic Arts,
a knitter of broken hearts,
a cooker of comfort foods,
a cleaner of sacred spaces,
a maker of beds—a woman who had chosen that path
because it was the only one her husband showed her.
She quit her family, choosing her lover & his children,
but found herself haunted by the husband & daughter she’d left behind.
When her lover died & she returned years later,
she saw she’d built her happiness on their unhappiness.
She ended a marriage to begin a relationship
that would never end in wedlock,
hoping her new love would make
her husband’s same mistake.
She married the man of her recurring dreams,
the man of one woman’s single nightmare,
only to find when she slept,
he became more real.
She went to rehab to overcome her alcoholism,
only to find the man addicted to pornography
who became addicted to her.
Mom’s Day Off
When Mom had a 24-hour bug,
the dishes did not do themselves,
and neither did the laundry get a bath.
There were sticky fingers & toes,
& a crusty little nose.
Paper was strewn about,
& Daddy had completely
for he’d fallen asleep in the recliner
like Rip Van Suburban Dad,
& suffocated under all the toys
Hannah Banana Boo had ever had.
He worked a dirty job,
she worked in sterility,
but his virility
overcame her infertility.
He married her for her beauty,
she married him for money,
but when he became handsome,
& she became rich,
they were happier with themselves.
To marry in the temple
would be to leave her father & mother
& cleave unto the faith of her husband.
She chose not the latter,
but the former,
& in doing so,
she was able to cleave unto the man
whose faith mirrored hers.
She grew up,
but never needed;
but never wanted.
She’d loved them both, & when one had died,
the other had become greater in her mind,
for he had died at the height of his perfection–
the peak of his valor–
so that no man in life could ever overcome
the shadow of his death.
She’d fallen in love with Amy’s childhood,
& so she shared the memories as if they were her own,
& in so doing, she became what Amy might have been.
The stories they told, no one believed,
because what they saw through their limited prisms,
they could explain in the way only children can—
in innocence, the guilt of the adults around them.
Every year, her parents had Photoshopped
an age-progressed picture of her abducted brother,
so that when she crossed his path many years hence,
she knew, with startling clarity,
the man he had become,
the man who would take her life.
She learned “once upon a time”
& “happily ever after” from stories,
& everything in between from the lives
she lived through those stories.
Mr. Bob had been her imaginary friend.
When she came upon the grown-up version of him,
she knew he’d been very real to her mother.