Sometimes I feel unpretty
Running circles around my life
In an effort not to remember
What I can’t forget
That night and many nights when he –
I try to forget and I remember
That I can’t control the fact that it happened
The way it did, or why it did, or when it did
Where were you when I needed you?
I cried so many times
People couldn’t hear me
My tears were silent
My smile was louder
My face was plastered
My mind disconnected
I blame her
I know I shouldn’t
They say not to
But that is why she’s so hard
She wants to prove to herself that she won’t break
That no one else will break her or invade the space
That she’s made sacred:
Her world, her heart
She suffers from grief
That he made gray
And she listens to the sadness
That drowns out the music in her ears
He is gone
But somehow it feels as if he has never left
She stood at the edge of the lake, staring down at her reflection. She was beautiful. The lake’s ripples sparkled in the darkening dusk. The smell of pine filled the air. She felt serene and one with the trees. Her left foot continued to dangle over the edge of the lake. She stood tall and slender, her back leg extended as a ballerina does when preparing to leap. Her blue and white flowery dress flowed down around her ankles. Purple and pink painted the sky.
As she continued looking down at her reflection, she noticed the pine trees peaking up behind her head in the water, forming a crown. She thought that was funny, and let out a chuckle that echoed in the trees. Then slowly, she began falling forward, as if in a trance. Her body entered the water quietly, lean like a log. Within seconds, she was completely submerged. There, she stayed, never to return.
Why do my eyes feel so raw?
Red with no teardrops
I can’t make them stop
Wait until the tide comes home
He powdered his way through life
But always smiled
You’d never know there was something wrong with those dimples
Or the twinkle in his eyes
But those tears never lied
He swaggered his way through life
Dancing and leading and leaping
But always found it
Would never give it up
Even if it hurt him
He crazed his way through parties
Convinced himself that life was awesome
But those ghosts never died
So he went to go find them.
Fading hurts less
Sharp edges cut and burn
But fading makes the pain invisible
He told me why he left
Because I wanted to feel the sharp edges
But now my insides won’t stop burning
I wish I had just let things fade
The more money she made, the farther away she ran from her wish to set herself free. From hate, from demons, from revenge. She was her captor’s daughter, blinded by fear and nightly hauntings. She imagined a tomorrow that she would never have and kept herself busy to fake herself into thinking that she’d have tomorrow if she only kept being busy. She had already killed her spirit, however, each time she denied herself that joy of not knowing what would happen if she ever let go. Her cage felt familiar, so she stayed 10 feet in and 20 feet under the surface of the world that would swallow her. She ran and came back over and over again until she couldn’t stand the indecency of her own indecision. She woke up drunk – life is but a dream – and all before her disappeared in their cotton-eyed mist. Graveyards went barren because their zombies fled. It was the Apocalypse of a new world that forgot its name and cursed its children with futures they would never enjoy because their pasts were too strong. So they suffocated. She dreamt this every night that she stayed awake breathing in her own toxic fumes of the Zombie Apocalypse that took her voice until she died. Each and every time.
Every Saturday she went to buy her happiness at Macy’s
but came back disappointed when she couldn’t find that perfect suit.
It was all she needed to feel better
And she was adamant that when she found the suit, she would.
The next Saturday came.
She found the suit, but she still wasn’t happy.
She needed a bag. Just the right bag.
She bought three of them. And later returned two. She needed a different color scheme, she decided, and coral was just too much of one color anyway.
Next Saturday would be MAC time!
She was dying to get the newest shade of retro chic lipstick that would make her look like the diva she knew she was meant to be. Olivia Pope watch out now! Jada’s gonna be the new girl in town, and she’s been watching you!
But there was always one thing. The shopping never erased the loneliness she felt. The emptiness she felt from unresolved feelings from her past that accompanied her on each trip.
Her room grew with stuff that she eventually didn’t know what to do with. Her lists grew longer and her frustration larger. She needed a new object to focus her attention on the lack of motivation she had been feeling for a few decades (or maybe years?) now.
She never wanted to go back to that corner of her mind that told her to sit still and dig deeper, to feel the loneliness and conquer it. She needed to avoid it at every cost, even if it meant wasting her weekends away doing nothing and not taking strides to achieve her long-held, aching dreams.
She was scared she’d get bored. She was scared that even after fulfilling her dreams, there would be nothing left to make her feel satisfied. She was scared to think that maybe what she needed weren’t lists, but forgiveness for the persons who hurt her in the way that they did.
She buried herself deeper in unconquered lists.
Next Saturday, they’d be having a one-day sale at Macy’s and she just had to get that new Coach bag. It was going to look great with her fabulous new suit. There’d always be time to finish doing those things that were on her list. And she wasn’t going to be late for that sale.
Violence and rage sedate forlorn memories
Of demons & ghosts set out to kill
The innocent laughter of unsuspecting babes
Scraggly teeth dripping with blood
Eat the fruit of the empty womb
Cries unheard of lambs go baa
Far in the night, never in sight
Deceit held captive
Fear kept silent
Sometimes you think you'll have a chance to say what you want to say, until you learn from the unpredictable sequence of life that that chance will never be.
“I know she liked you, but please understand that this is what she wanted.”
He said to me as he explained why I never knew that the woman who lived two floors below me was dying of cancer. I'll call her Teresa. She wasn’t just my landlady; she was the matriarch of the house I live in.
I came back from Holland in December with my souvenir in hand, waiting for the right time to give it to her.
But her door stayed closed for a month. So I kept on waiting until I would run into her while doing laundry in the basement. But she never popped in from running her errands. So I knocked on her apartment door but she never answered. Her son answered and told me she was sick. So I waited until I heard news that she would get better. Three more months went by. Then one day in April, spring finally came. It was the warmest day we had had all year. I heard the bird songs in the sky; I noticed the leaves blossoming on the trees in their new shade of green. The sky was blue. The clouds were wispy. Today will be a beautiful day, I said, as I walked out the house.
And that’s when a woman appeared and told me that Teresa had died that morning.
Teresa found out that she had cancer back in September. That was when I was leaving for Holland. I had told her that I would tell her all about my trip when I came back. But she didn’t want me to know that I wouldn’t see her again.
So today, two weeks after her death, he explained to me: “I know she liked you, but please understand. No one else knew, and this is what she wanted.” I told him I respected that, as I fought back the tears. He said that in her final days, she instructed her son to put out the sun dial that now sits in our driveway. He told me to go outside and read it. So I went. On the sun dial I read the words:
Grow old along with me. The best is yet to be.
I wonder what we would have talked about had I seen her one last time. Maybe the sun dial is my answer. Maybe she had been waiting for the right time to tell me.
*Written as I listened to Bitter by Meshell Ndegeocello