i was once six years old
and i was once cradled
in the tired arms of a
who could only cry
and she'd call sometimes,
"Cass," she'd say,
"baby, i've been drinking again
and your father left -
baby, he left and i can't find him."
i'd put her books away then
and try to find the pills
she never wanted to take.
"do you think he's hiding, Cassandra?"
"no," i'd say, and tie her hands;
i was so much more
of my father than i would have liked
to be, "he told me you need these."
"oh no i don't, baby."
"yes, Mama you do."
goes the goddamned weasel,
just in her
it was silent in my room and silent
when she slept
but i was only six and the world
made less sense
to my squinted eyes and
disoriented speech because
the night was her haven -
i was her haven -
she screamed and turned
enough to make the earth's
rotation seem slower
and hours get longer
and the tick drag
fucking tock seemed more
and more interminable
than the first.
it was never silent when
i was six years old.
i was once six years old
and swallowed so many words,
i had to hold every syllable
with my father's Adam's apple -
it was only his apple
and my mother said she tasted it -
he once told me
that a man is defined
by how many words he can put up
in a fight;
he wasn't much of a writer
or a fighter, for that matter,
but to my surprise, he'd
only hold me tighter,
and soon, never again.
"baby," he'd say, "your mama's just been
playin'. you know how it is,"
and i'd nod my chubby head.
"she's just so tired from
loving you so much and loving me so much;
sometimes you have to stay away,
"i think so," i'd whisper, wishing i really
didn't. "you'll come back soon right?"
i wrapped my rolled arms around
the warmth of his neck,
gripping the silence his words could never say.
his apple bobbed and i couldn't tell why,
he'd shake a little,
then look at me and sigh,
"never again, Cassandra. not this time."
and i suppose it was only
to ready my cavalry; i wasn't always equipped
for the battles i had to fight,
even when i knew that things
were never going to be
right between them
so when i was six years old, i
hid away books before my mother
all the words she needed to talk,
to sing and say, "baby i'm fine," to tell me
that dinner was always going to be ten minutes late,
and that the empty head seat
at the dining table was
only a reminder of all the words she missed,
of an apple only she
intimacy she missed with
delicacy stringing a bracelet woven
out of all the memories
she drank away.
it burned one day when dinner was late.
it rose in the air
and flew away.
so heartbreaking, so real and very well written
this is a stunner.
lovely imagery and diction, yet spoken (written) simply, in the voice of a 6 yr old, perhaps. the last stanza grabs me and my mind flies away with it, not to mention that i can smell it like acrid burning of popcorn left too long in the microwave. excellent work, say i.
you made me cry.
This is stunning. I have no words.
I mean. I don't even have words.
This is a wonderful piece of writing.
Holy freaking crap. This is just. Wow. I love it so much.
this is your best.
This steals my breath and breaks my heart all at once.
i'm so sorry and thank you so much, my dear.
Things like this just make me want to hold you.
This one hits close to home, but still beautiful.
This is just so good it makes me want to cross the seas just to hug you.
One of your best, no doubt about it.
you're doing cool new things and i love it.
This is really powerful and hauntingly beautiful. Well done for getting it out there so brilliantly.
Will you have a bracelet like that one day?