The perishment
lays on me
a sleek cat loathe to groom
the swirl of ancestral smoke
turns light to torn dusk

around here somewhere

you stand disapproving

I know your countenance, decades later
those tilts of skin and sinew etched immortal
as much as if you’d tattooed your likeness on my hungered iris

and at times you have become permanence
glancing in a mirror, seeing you flit behind my eyes
“a disappointment” you say
wordlessly like smoke

I know that,” I reply

thin vowels, weak vocal chords fraying

wrapping memories like bondage until my wrists ache with pressure
It didn’t matter that I wasn’t; a thief, a drop out, a user, a fornicator
you didn’t like me any better, I might as well have chomped the bit

my errors you used anyway, even as we all possess them

something about mine, evoked anger, built loss until

you could let go without noticing what you’d dropped


maybe I just didn’t have your guts, your shine

I was born in a basement, I ate coal until I could only see

shadows, it’s possible I was never whole

free of fear, something you’d like to belong with

“Pretty pathetic” you’d say

lighting a cigarette, inhaling deeply

my invisible mother, her beautiful ebony hair kept short despite curl

I imagine being born from your skin

I must still possess some of me

so why does it feel like I am forgetting even

those tender moments I held onto so long

like totems of a better time or

why I can’t recall the first six years of life as if

someone cruel cut you out and spirited you away

I ran until the road ended and trees

barred the way, their sharp teeth gnashing

most of my friends want to go back to the eighties or the 1800s
dress in crepe and chignon and ride in black carriages
I want to go back and be a green fly in our hallway

watching those stolen years set against old portraits
trying to work out when I turned you off from all things me

I asked you once
could I have been really such a bad child?

and you began to say; “you have no idea”
I couldn’t bear to hear the rest

I rested the phone in her cradle like an aborted fetus tenderly but without choice
six years old; cannot possess the kind of power to invoke such dislike
It comes instead from former lives, former wounds
I tried telling you I was on your side
that it could be us against the world

if anyone could ride a dragon

I think you could

everytime I open a door for a woman
everytime someone remarks how kind I am, or how beautiful, or how accomplished

It’s you I think of
the creator of those things in me

no longer wishing to pretend you can stand a moment
in my presence

“you need to care less about what I think “

you said, because you could stand on your own steam

watch the universe without needing

what I need in my deepest marrow

I need you and the starvation of us

is a fire that requires no wick nor substance to burn

slow and clear in endless darkness

I imagine every scenario and all leave me wrecked on empty shore

there are things that live
cause us as much pain when we lose
as any death could

the perishment lays on me irregularly like grief
You’re just like your father,” you say
He gave up too

but have I really given up? Or

am I just unable to be

someone you find something in

worth loving?
and I remember I got my voice from you

in three languages

In no language

I play your last message on my phone
my heart squeezes

it’ll never squeeze shut now, it hangs gasping for water on dry land

and that’s something different about us

maybe it’s what I wish I had inherited most of all
but you got your grandmother’s sentimentality and weakness instead,” you say

I know
even with my eyes closed, imagining you there with me
I can still feel

the room is empty

it was you, breathless and torn

I reached for. No replacement ever did count.

(* The title is credited to the song by Hope Sandoval of Mazzy Star “Turning Into Dust”)

17 Replies to “It was you, breathless and torn *”

  1. Six years old? What can happen then to break a bond if there was one? Once, just once my mother dropped a clue, an offhand comment. “School took my baby.” I wasn’t in kindergarten, so First Grade and six years old. Candice, I too can recall little of those first six years, but some few photos show real smiles. In later ones there is an uncertainty, a strain, a kind of pain. Sort of as if my shoes didn’t fit right. There was distance, cool distance, not cold, punctuated by a needy cling and crossed boundaries, and never quite good enough, especially at school, despite the push to be always ahead of the class (which made school boring often). Always too far or too close.

    “you stand disapproving

    I know your countenance, decades later
    those tilts of skin and sinew etched immortal
    as much as if you’d tattooed your likeness on my hungered iris”

    Those lines, drove straight to the core. I don’t even have to close my eye to see much the same. She never left, but was somehow never entirely there either.

    I tried to make a poem of this, but it wouldn’t come out that way. Maybe someday it will. Whether or not it does, we have the aching beauty of yours.

  2. Children always seek a parents love (approval?) it doesn’t matter if said parent doesn’t deserve it.

    There are many lines that struck deep, this is simply one that I choose

    I was born in a basement, I ate coal until I could only see

    shadows, it’s possible I was never whole

    Very introspective confession

  3. My friend I think we live in the same turntable don’t you?

  4. Thank you dearly for reading this and your support and encouragement it means a great deal to me and I am extremely grateful to you.

  5. I so appreciate you dear Jude, I really do. Thank you so much.

  6. This is probably why you and I are such kindred souls isn’t it? Most of all.

  7. Thank you so much for reading this I know it was a little long and introspective but I do appreciate you and thank you for your patience with me! xo

  8. The length of one’s writing if we’ll done is never a problem, as one must write what is felt within, needing to be released. 💙🙂

  9. Haha 😆 our musical tastes are very similar 😄🌏 even from the other side of the universe 🌏🌌

  10. It’s a bit uncanny but you are right about that my friend I would totally listen to all your records one rainy afternoon

  11. Agreed. I wish others felt the same. In this world the shorter the better when it comes to writing.

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