You devoured my life,
Cracked open the bones of my youth with your teeth
And sucked out the marrow of my beauty
You left me a shadow among shadows,
bruised by the ones with sharper edges
who had turned their deadness into jagged spears of broken glass
I was a girl with no skeleton,
A woman without a spine.
My shadow gave a performance of living,
growing my nails and my hair,
pasting expressions on my face that copied emotions,
putting noises in my throat that sounded enough like speech
to keep anyone from hearing the death rattle inside.
And now, looking at the lines age has carved in my face
I see rivulets of sorrow where no tears flow
and I feel in my mouth the hot bitterness of a single question.
You and Mother struck a bargain to waste each other’s lives –
but who gave you permission to spill my blood upon the sand?
THE MORNINGS AFTER
In the morning you go about with your abstracted, professorial air
As if trying to remember some important secret of the universe
You act as if nothing has happened –
As if you hadn’t drunk my soul dry the night before
In my child’s bed,
Leaving me feverish and parched,
Burned and scarred by the probing and the pounding
Of your penis and your hands.
I am the secret you can’t remember
As you look over my head
To the wall behind me.
I am the darkness with no stars,
The black paint on your lens,
The reason your telescope is always blind.
The invisible powder you feel on your fingers
Is crushed bone from my spine,
My hips and my pubis
Not pounded meteor,
Not inter-galactic dust
But the record of a life being ground away
Under the weight of your history.
Of your hysterical refusal to know yourself and your wounds.
It is an ancient sickness you carry, marry and willfully pass on
My mother, your wife, stumbles about
Imperiously giving orders through the fog of her sleeping drugs
That allow her to survive the nights in her own way
And seek her revenge when she wakes.
And my mornings now, decades later
Carry the sour flavor of your studied indifference,
Your useless, buried shame,
Your hapless denial.
I marvel that anyone
Could chip away at the life of a child
So steadily, so relentlessly
Working the levers of evil,
Turning the gears of annihilation,
Opening the canisters of gas
And walking away.
The body remembers –
The ribs grasped beyond breath in the relentless hand,
Delicate cage of the lungs whose bones you later manage with horse and car to bruise and break,
The foot slapping frantically against the sheets
The desperate movement that cannot free,
Can merely distract from the pain,
Whose ligaments you twist and torment
Sliding off a curb
On your way to another crime scene.
The hip achingly wrenched into motions of reception
It does not want to make
That wakes you, throbbing night after morning after night.
The bottom of the spine closed like a fist
Because you cannot close what he chooses to force open,
Which you force open again
in the confused pursuit of “beauty” and “health,”
Fasting and enemas of coffee-tinted water,
Squirming in agony on the bathroom floor,
Driven beyond reason to continue the ritual.
(The craze for colonics becomes clear –
all those tiny backsides
lifted in submission
to parental battering rams,
and the longing so much later
to be “cleaned out,” made pure and simple again and again.)
The unwilling flesh whispers to you,
Screams to you when years of whispering have done nothing
To wake up your ears
And you crawl into position
Head in the pillow,
Rump in the air.
You last all of two seconds,
The foot flailing again,
Before you collapse in dry weeping
Unable to penetrate
The memory of penetration
Even an inch further.
As your bones vibrate with sorrow
The full weariness of half-done healing
Is upon you.
The self struggling to witness the self
Moves too slowly into the light.