so damn hard
to be perfect
and to fulfill every expectation.
I do everything you ask,
then go above and beyond.
I do it with the prayer
that maybe soon you’ll love me.
And it hurts.
and play the perfect daughter
so that you’ll never have to explain
why our family is in fragments.
I comfort your children, stifling my own tears
and be the mother you’re supposed to be.
Yet when you look at me
your eyes say I’m not enough.
And it hurts.
You will never truly see
exactly what you’ve put me through.
There are scars tattooed on my conscience
and scars that once bled crimson.
And you’ll never get to see those scars
because you don’t care to accept the truth.
If I were to show you
my ears would ring from your melodic screeches.
And it hurts.
With every step
it gets harder to breathe.
And every step I feel
myself slowly shattering.
But somehow I’ve succeeded
though I’ve been weighed down
by iron chains you bound me with.
I’ve amazed even myself.
Then I realized what hurts so much.
The poisoned arrow you pierced me with,
that once inflicted nearly fatal pain
was the moment when I saw
that in your eyes:
I only ever fail.
A heartfelt emotion.
An inexplicable sense.
An instant attraction.
That's what everyone says love is.
Skipping across an emerald meadow.
Picnics on red checked blankets.
Dancing underneath a starry sky.
Kissing as raindrops gently fall.
That's what movies say love is.
A fight that ends in passionate sex.
Running hand in hand through a fantastic realm.
Riding off together into the sunset.
Winning a battle, side by side.
That's what books say love is.
That's not what love is.
Standing by someone through hell and high water.
Willingly fighting for someone else.
Staying when it would be easier to walk away.
Giving up happiness for another's sake.
That's what love is.
When a baby is born, there is a bond.
When best friends meet, they make a commitment.
At the alter, a vow is made.
A similar meaning behind each.
That's what love is.
Because love is not a feeling.
Love is a promise.
And one must make that choice.
The choice to do right by someone else.
The choice to put another first.
The choice to give that precious word.
Love may be a promise.
But it is a promise that is so rarely ever kept.
We begin to lose faith in the principle.
And without trust, love cannot exist.
All in Her Title
Mom? It’s the only one left.
Long ago, I loved this special day.
I loved to give you gifts, hugs, and love.
It was the agreement we had- you and me.
We never said it was, but deep down we both knew.
We had a dynamic that worked.
Actions that were reciprocated.
The standard arrangement between a mother and her child.
The problem with a deal is when one party no longer adheres.
There’s been rules set in place for a reason.
When one starts to stagnate, everything crumbles.
As is evident by you.
Bit by bit, you let go.
First it was hugs.
Then it was the love.
The gifts are still given, though only out of obligation.
So you can lie and pretend that you’re doing right by me.
By all of us.
As a child, it’s easier to say Mamma.
Through the tears of my adolescence, I just wanted my Mommy.
When I needed my mother, the one who loves and comforts, she was nowhere to be found.
There’s only one left.
That’s why I call you Mom.
Just You and I
Sometimes a song just fits your situation. Happened last night, driving my toddler home from the beach.
’97 Bonnie and Clyde came on the radio.
An Ice Cream Understanding
I can’t feel anything anymore. There is no joy, no sorrow, nothing. But somehow everything hurts. I don’t understand it. I need something definite. That’s what the knife is for. I understand that feeling. I understand why it hurts when I slice into the skin. It’s physical pain. I can control it. I can control how deep, how long, and how much it will sting. I like it when they bleed. What should I do today? A word? A picture? Oh, I know! One cut until I reach my age.
No one ever notices the lines.
No one would care even if they did.
It’s because no one cares about me.
My parents ignore me and tell me to go away.
I don’t think they love me.
The handle to the bathroom door turns. I freeze, staring at the shiny metal handle. Mom and Dad aren’t supposed to be home. Who’s home? I don’t have time to hide the knife. I don’t have time to roll down my sleeves. The door creaks open. My heart is pounding. My stomach is flip flopping.
Kayla walks into the bathroom. “Oh, sorry sis. I didn’t…what are you doing?”
I look down at my arm. There are only six cuts. I’m not going to be able to finish. Kayla will yell at me. Then she’ll tell Mom and Dad. They’ll yell at me too. They won’t get it. This is the only feeling I understand.
“This is the only feeling I understand,” I whisper.
I don’t know how long it lasts. But it feels like forever. Kayla sighs. Then she starts to do something. I look up at her, though I don’t meet her eyes. She shuts the bathroom door. Then she turns and pulls down her leggings.
There are lots of angry looking lines on her thighs. Some are small. Some have healed and scarred. Some spell out words. Fat. Ugly. Worthless. There’s a fresh word on one of her legs. It’s tiny. I squint to see it better.
I look up at her, but she looks away in shame.
“What does whore mean?” I ask quietly.
She still doesn’t look at me. “It’s what I’ve become. It’s a feeling I understand. You’ll get what it means in a few years.”
Maybe Kayla understands. I pat the floor beside me.
“When did you start?” she asks in a soft voice, sitting down beside me.
“Couple months ago.”
She pushes my hair out of my face gently. “I started when I was your age, too."
I want to finish my cuts. I’m almost done. But I don’t know if she’ll let me.
“Is it okay if I finish? I’m almost done,” I ask, bracing myself for her response. She stares into my eyes for a moment. She’s going to say no. She’s going to tell me to stop.
She said okay. She does understand. I position the knife carefully next to the previous cut and push firmly down.
Maybe I’m not completely alone. “I like it when they bleed a lot,” I say.
Maybe Kayla does care about me. “Me too,” she says.
“I love you,” Kayla whispers as I finish my final cut. I look up at her and see tears brimming in her eyes.
“You’re seventeen now. Does it ever get better?” I ask, feeling little drops in the corner of mine.
Kayla shakes her head sadly. “I wish I could tell you it does.”
I crawl into her lap, and she wraps her arms around me tightly. We sit, crying silently. Neither of us can stand loud noises. I forgot that earlier. She never yells at me. She’s the only one. Kayla strokes my hair gently, and I feel her body shaking slightly. Mine is shaking too. Everything is quiet. And for the first time in a long time, I feel something else. I feel safe.
Kayla breaks the silence. “Wanna go get some ice-cream?”
I look up at her tear-stained face and give her a watery smile. “Yeah.”
The world kept whispering, “You can trust us.”
She had learned at a very young age they were lying.
But one day she broke. One day she gave in. She chose to trust someone.
And when the world found her suicide note, they had no response. Three words explained her cruel reality.
He betrayed me.
The Last Prayer
As he breathed his last, he whispered one final prayer.
“Deliver my child from her father's wicked deeds.”
Big brown eyes
full of curiosity,
searching for truths
to satisfy her inquisitions.
Starry, hope-filled eyes
that believed deep down
that she had strength
to stand by her morality.
She grew up.
Once bright eyes began to flicker
as reality set in.
The world was not as kind
as she had once thought it to be.
Fiery eyes soon became extinguished
as life turned cold and coarse and cruel.
Truth that was once so desperately craved
became a deeply resented foe.
And she made a realization.
Dejected eyes traced the lines,
the marks, the stains, the scars.
Rereading and reliving
each unforgiving memory.
Big brown eyes looked hopelessly
down in resigned despair
at the darts, contraceptives, spirits, cuts,
at a blood and tear-stained diary.
Her innocence was gone.
And it was never coming back.
“I nicked myself shaving this morning.”
That was her response when asked about the cuts on her arms. No one ever inquired further.
Except for one stranger whom she met by chance. He told her to stop lying. She asked what he meant.
“Accidental nicks are not perfect incisions.”
“Daniya! By the magic gods, we thought you weren’t coming. You weren’t followed, were you?"
“Of course, she wasn’t! Daniya is the most agile and deft assassin, er spy, er...whatever she is. She’s spent the past ten years devotedly training and serving the Crown. And she would never jeopardize years of planning by giving away her heritage to anybody. Right, Chief?”
“Silence, both of you. What have you found out, my child? How do we defeat them?”
“We don’t. She cannot win the war on her own, and thus the queen plans on throwing herself and her kingdom on the mercy of the Magic Folk. A small convoy will be arriving in our forests in several days. Agree to support her. Once we have freed those of us whom she has enslaved, we betray her and let the warring nation finish her kingdom. But we tread very carefully. Because I discovered something else. Lila’s alive, Father. They have my daughter.”