Author’s note: This is the beginning of my thoughts on this. Yesterday, the world lost another beautiful person to cancer. I will miss my friend Grace, who was a shining light to so many people. She had the most courage and strength of anyone I have ever known. And as a former teacher of both her children, I will stand protector of them, even if from afar, forever.
You go to the kitchen anxious. This is no way to greet your husband and the coffee he just made. But there it is. It’s almost sunrise. You cannot place your worry, and so it lingers in a physical need. You wrap your arms around his body sideways. He turns to you and wraps you into his chest. Fridge door light on you both, his hand releases the half and half.
He knows you. He knows your answer will be that you don’t know what’s wrong. Nothing is wrong. Everything is wrong. He’s on to you. He knows that you have been awake for a while. He knows that unconsciously you made a decision you might regret. Or not. It doesn’t need to be decided now. He isn’t psychic. You have patterns. He caught you still dreaming.
You both do the counting on your fingers and the deep breath you exhale. This exercise comes from the book you brought home to read with your son. You are worried that your son worries too much so this is a book about kids with anxiety. You know you brought this book home for yourself, too. You try the gratitude.
I’m grateful for you and for peanut butter and jelly.
He was in the middle of packing your child’s lunchbox. You sound silly to yourself, always the harshest judge. So you add intellectual silliness.
It’s just an amazing combination of flavors.
Your worries were there a minute ago. What was wrong? Hadn’t you been spinning since 4:30 or so? Is that the time the SSRI begins waning? Maybe you should up the meds. Maybe you should blame Mars for being so intense in your chart. Maybe blame the constant government chatter, the nothing that is being done, the injustice, your social media show and tell, is it enough? is it too much? The bills to pay late.
Yes, your gun tucked into your back waist band is hot, and I do not mean stolen — but you know what I mean. I see your ring, but you could be a model for J. Crew when I was into those catalogs. Your November outfit takes me camping, holds me with your eyes that have seen what I saw today. You live here right? The place where air is stale and the ceilings, although high, are uncomfortably low. Oppressing even a short girl like me.
The rooms, after an upgrade, a decision — they have stopped suicide attempts: less perforated surfaces in which to weave a thread through, less bars to noose sheets. The success rate of suicide since this detainment center’s grand opening (It is for detainment), is eight. Completion of suicide is considered a success. That is a low number, but I saw that thick file. I know an ex-boyfriend’s brother used a door knob. Sat down on his knees and leaned way into the choke. That is a whole other story. Still ghosts — when confronted with reality.
I looked back at the man in his cell. Catching his eye and looking away. He was grinding his body up against the BOLTED AND HEAVY door, while I watch the commercial on the TVs, he also sees. A preview for the final episode of American Horror Story. Don’t miss it. Or watch it later. Look away.
An inspection. The pain. The complete delusion. A mother’s son. I saw the library. The GED program. This was not me. This won’t be you.
But it could be. Flip the page. Like when I sat in my piano teacher’s waiting area. Waiting for this kid, who actually practiced, to be done. He got extra time. I was FASCINATED by the book she had on the coffee table. The kind with pictures, optical illusions of faces. Turn it one way, it is an old lady smiling in a feathered hat. Flip the page, it’s a pirate scowling, the feather turned beard and foul teeth.
In that way, I am looking out of my cell. It’s sticky and they will move me soon. I took the class on empathy and how to tell what anger feels like in my body. I connected with the characters in a book I found in the library, but can a girl get some romance reading in here? A microcosm. Dental. Vision. Pharmacy. I got what I need.
Description: A state of secret or disguised identity either by change of name, being, thought process, familial relationship, appearance, or other forms of altered truth in an attempt to better life’s perceived circumstances or outcomes. Outwardly, furzyth has the closest connection to the act of a chameleon through deception of others and self. The state of furzyth may be known or unknown to the person in the state. Others may recognize that another is in the state of furzyth even if they could not recognize it in themselves. Sometimes a person will deliberately pursue deception in order to be perceived as the outcome they desire only to then lose sight of who they were before.
one scholarship away from my father’s mouth whiskey and some other unknown flavor smashed against my forever (forgotten) childhood.
only two street weeks out of the thirty two until I am sixteen. no one noticed (I hope) early for work early for school trying to shower before the swim team hand dryers in the grocery store hand soap crust my braces need care.
then seventeen (I counted) other people’s couches cat sheddings and cigarettes the crumbs of other people’s midnights away from her complicit silence.
one court order away (he won’t show up) I represent myself my sister, younger lost to online predators that’s her way no witness to what will happen later but I will not be victim.
one judge to let me leave the system one day I will paint him a glorious horse dyed every hue of freedom.
How exotic to be a part of your family Your grandmother adorned in Shanghai Jade Dreamy-eyed when your grandfather Arrives home from the airport Still very much alive And celebrated widely Kisses her, exhausted from healing, Legacy beginning, Doesn’t stop to sleep yet And sits in his study Clinking bourbon soaked ice Between his cheek and his teeth
You and your sister Not yet breathed life On this earth Will inherit these gestures His folded-arm stance Her slight secret humor Their society’s gaze The mountain view From your own safari jet
And how as children You will play And read and dream And not know That I look at your class picture Now with the others Teenagers become Perhaps moving on From their loss of you
Author’s note: This is a poem I wrote in 2006. That year, a previous student of mine was killed with his entire family when their private chartered plane went down over Kenya.