June 12, 2008
It’s mosquitos swarming and the screen door slapping against
the hickory frame as my body is stretching out of girlhood
and into the burden of a woman’s maturity, fourteen and already
more than aware of life and the fact that it’s cruel like the bumps
bubbling up on my ankles, despite swatting or scratching or all this
blood running from these wounds like the lifeline of Christ.
My mother told me she loved me the day before she left, gone
for four months in a place where cell service is spotty, but I know
the truth: she didn’t want to deal with how long my limbs had grown
or that I no longer had breasts, more like tits. Now with eyes trained
to the rusting gate, I wait for rescue from this familial compound,
a place I am not wanted but endlessly needed, like an early morning
wake up call from a receptionist when you’re crashing again
in a Knights Inn double bed infested with bugs, far from home.
Punchdrunk and waiting for the other shoe to drop, I am choosing
to ignore the maelstrom inside and am rooting into the rotten steps
to weather yet another storm, right on time at half past five in a cloud
of bright, beastly diesel tearing through the living room with blue-collar
precision that begins to growl into being until there’s nothing to do
but stay still and hope to splinter up enough that the sun filters through
the thin layer of epidermis that holds everything you actually own
close to your heart hurt, strapped together by scar tissue and holding
out for hope that it’ll be enough shelter to weather another storm.
And when it’s not, I’m stranded again in the middle of pitted earth,
looking straight into the sky, decomposing while still breathing,
now learning that nothing but weeds can grow where nutrients can’t
reach the roots. I’m telling you now, if I have to pick one more thorn
from my soul, my skin is going to catch fire and I’m going to turn
into a sun then implode into nuclear fission, staining the sidewalks
with the shadows of a past that’ll linger on much longer than me.
I am that first plant growing in the disaster of Chernobyl, irradiated
and strong in the newness of a thing made from folly. Do not eat
of my clichéd fruit because I can’t promise that I won’t make you sick.
Check back in 10,000 years when I’ve turned into a pomegranate tree,
cut me open, and expose the sickly sweet seeds and crush them beneath
your tongue; please, leave the rind behind and let it feed something else,
or squish my membranes against your wounds to help heal them fully.
But really, leave me to filter the radioiodine, useful alone, whole at last.