frozen

today my chest tightens
meditation fails
anticipation like ice
creaks into blood and bones,
a meeting;
my gifted child
at five
contemplates the face
of god
at eight it’s punnett squares
for bedtime chatter,
so today, today
i will sit across from her,
the one who left,
the charismatic liar
the drinker
who stole more
than money
and discuss this child
and she will smile,
call me by an old, old
lover’s name
and pretend
like always,
to be human

1SageFemme All Rights Reserved 2017

Missing

some journeys begin slowly, tentatively,
one toe inching across a border
unsure of the terrain

not this one
it was immediate
the friend-of-a-friend
(they kissed once, did you hear?)
appeared
joined
became one of us,
peeing in the woods up at that campground
with all the nuclear
families
whispering
shhhh,

and more than that,
she became one of mine;
the precious few I cleave to,
drop everything for,
invite over when my baby is a day old
and my body hurts
and I can’t feel the joy yet
because I am in a Bad Marriage
but she has fed me
and made me laugh
and been my anchor

she told me of moving from house to house,
being a peacekeeping nomad child
in a sometimes happy childhood
not quite unaware
of the war waging about her,
“did you know,” she would say,
running her finger around the rim of her glass,
“that my name was chosen in revenge,
because my father hated it,
and he left my pregnant mother
for her best friend, who lived across the street?”
she knew this,
that she was supposed to be a weapon,
so, whether in rebellion,
or because she had no other choice,
she became incapable of fighting,
pathologically peaceful and agreeable;
she became a counselor,
and, by a lucky turn,
kissed her neighbour,
who also kissed my wife,
and this is how I came to meet my
once-upon-a-time friend
with the weaponized name,
a tendency to lateness and forgetfulness,
a heart bigger that anything
and the most beautiful drunken singing voice,
ever

if I rewind far enough,
I find a few years, in the beginning,
when we were both happy,
simultaneously,

she saw how my wife was fun and charismatic
and drank more than the rest of us
and didn’t work, and put me down
while praising me,

I saw how her wife
worked hard, and wasn’t that fun,
but sure could be mean when she felt like it,
and how my friend, just like me,
smiled, and moved the conversation
along,

we kept each other’s secret;
that keeping peace
was exhausting,
that really,
we were broken,
cracked into a thousand shiny pieces
always picking up bits,
and handing them back to one another,
“here you go sweetie,
you dropped this,”

when her sister got married,
and she left the wedding in tears,
the homophobia finally too much,
I met her on my porch at 2 am
in my pjs with a cup of tea,
she in her bridesmaid’s dress,
mascara running down her face,
and we laughed into the low-rent
east end
night

when my second baby was born
and I wandered aimlessly about my house
puke-bucket in hand,
not sure what to do,
my friend would show up
when my wife was at the bar,
make me tea,
and tell me
“you got this, honey,
you’ve done it before,
you’re strong,
you’re a good mom,
keep on”

when her baby was born
my life was a mess;
we began to drift,
not apart, exactly,
but into fragments,
parcels of time perpetually interrupted
by our three small people,
conversations unfinished,
and only now,
at this moment,
do I understand;

we were,
neither of us,
whole
to begin with
and parenting required
full-time
damage control

we put on our big-girl pants
went to work
managed life with grace
and a smile,
exactly as we were raised to do

my marriage fell apart first
and my good friend was there,
in the shadows,
helping when she could,
but mostly,
because life was crazy then,
I was alone

then her marriage fell apart
in a grand finale
of domestic violence,
that turned out to be
not the end,
but a pit-stop

I tried to be there,
to help her plan her exit strategy,
and promised not to call CAS,
even though her daughter
saw everything
her daughter
saw
her mother
beaten

but she was leaving,
had left already,
was only going back to get some things…

“please, please, don’t call,”
she begged,
and I listened,
she didn’t want her wife to be fired,
they needed the money,
would need the money,
for the divorce,

I didn’t call
and she went back
and that was that
the end of us,
diverging into the one who stayed
and the one who got away,
and I think of her
every
single
day

with hope

1sagefemme All Rights Reserved 2016

Part 2: Daddy

Rewind:

Sifting sifting through the muck
for signs of love
i find you, Daddy,
in bed on a Saturday morning
two little ones wrapped around your torso
i am the one clinging to your shoulder
jeffrey is trying to ride you,
you snort and whinny
toss him high
screeching with laughter.

Fade…
hopping over egg-shells
through mud and worms,
falling into a stormy sea
and you
you are a buoy
we cling to
marking the perimeter
of sanity
but you are a slippery savior
one minute solid,
the next shadow in mist
and then gone
and we four splashing, cling solemnly, uncrying
best we can
to childhood.

I channel you
singing softly to my babies at night
rub their ear lobes gently to wake them,
as you did,
they call me Mommy,
and gaze up at me full of hope and love,
but I am more you than her.

You were beaten down by her too
monster-mouth mother wife
she made you dumb
you gave up the fight
but here’s the thing, Daddy

You did not protect us

And I understand,
because my babies
are in a stormy sea
and I am their bouy,
though they don’t yet know it,
and every other Wednesday
I abandon them,
And I understand now
that sometimes it is out of our hands.

1Sagefemme All Rights reserved 2016

Fury

Here I sit with this shit
In the pit of my soul
Over-wound, vibrating,
Break or stay whole?

Safety’s off and I’m cocked
And I’ll scream ’til I’m heard
With a mouth full of fire
And a pen and a word.

Hope the words that I choose
Will carry me through
This treacherous journey
Between me and you.

What word, what sentence,
What fucking phrase
Will free me and see me
Out of this maze?

Is the word “love,”
Or “laughter,” or “loss?”
Should I stare down the tank
Whatever the cost?

And are you the tank,
Or a soldier at play?
Or a woman or victim
of life in some way?

I’m fully loaded
And ready to fight
So kick me and bite me
And scream in the night
And you’ll find me still staring
Into your gun
Repeating my truth
Until I am done.

You are a fraud,
Not a victim of life;
You cut your own flesh
With a liar’s knife.

And the pain that you feel
Soothes your unquiet soul,
But you’re weak and you’re vengeful
And nowhere near whole.

You drink ’til you think
That your stories are true
That the car wrecked itself
and in fact I owe you.

But the kids know your coffee
Is really red wine
You hide vodka in boots
And no, it’s not “fine.”

You won’t work, you can’t parent
But you lie cheat and steal;
What the fuck are you thinking?
This wasn’t our deal.

So I’m done with this dance,
With this fight with this life
With bandaging bullshit
With being your wife.

If you cut yourself now
You can bandage yourself,
I was never a nurse
And you don’t need my help.

Safety’s off and I’m cocked
And I’ll scream ’til I’m heard
With a mouth full of fire
And a pen and a word.

1sagefemme all rights reserved 2013

For the alcoholic in all our lives 

Even here in the warmth
And moist baked-bread scent of home
The rancid creeping tendrils
Encroach from that wrecked life.
A portal opens
A peep-hole;
I see you now
But in the seeing mourn
The stranger I thought I knew.
Worthless words
Forming exclamation bubbles
Over an ingenuous smile,
“I am sober now.”
Sure.
Like all the times before.

1sagefemme © All rights reserved 2015