Silverfish

I have perched on the edge of the heaving ocean’s waves –
a cliché of turbulent emotions raging in translucent spray.
It sends my mascara to running faster than any
fight or flight mechanism left in this old gray matter of mine.

I’ve got silverfish in my heart
and they’re eating at the yellow pages
that litter the floor
of my little castle keep.

I’m fumbling about in the rancid leftovers
of a fridge left behind.

Someone turned the power off on me
a few weeks ago,
but I never needed light for this sight –

I’m in my element here…

Here,

where the war stories of the day are bunched up under my head,
a lumpy, bumpy pillow that croons in my ear
every hour,
on the hour –
the breaking news.

And the breaking news is shattering news.
It’s crushing and devastating –
a shock to the system.
It’s the all new norm

and catastrophic in its mediocrity.

And I’m one wave crash from wiping out completely.
I’m a piss-poor balancing act on a boogie board –
I’m being eaten alive,

but the power’s off and so,
I can’t even see it happening.

© Laura A. Lord, Silverfish, 2016


I don’t claim to be anything more than I am – but there are people in this world who are especially attuned to humanity. They are effected in ways that may not make sense to others. These are the kinds of people who can read a news article and hurt so badly for humankind that they slide helplessly into a depression.

And in a world where there is so much hurting, it is easy to get lost. Bear with us, those of us who feel a little too deeply, who are thin-skinned, who wear our hearts out in the open like some big, bold flag…The world can be a little much for us some days.

Thank you to MindLoveMisery’sMenagerie for their prompt that helped inspire an aching mind today.

Teach Me Empathy

A little while back I threw myself into a project that terrified me. After multiple attempts at joining my writing with another’s, and being burnt every time, I once again gave it a shot. I wrote to a woman here on WordPress, someone whose poetry was unspeakably beautiful, and asked to write a duet with her. I could only be speaking of the wonderfully talented Hastywords.

I didn’t get burned in the process. She was amazing. In fact, you can see our masterpiece here on her site.

By the time this was finished, I had both of her books on my Kindle and she had mine and we were happily diving into the world each other had painted.

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I had to start at the beginning. I picked up Darker Side of Night and went through my nightly routine.

Fill the bathtub.

Pour some wine.

Soak away all the crap of the day.

Focus on someone else’s words instead of my own.

A couple of hours later, with stone-cold water and skin that was wrinkled past any redemption lotion could offer, I stepped out from the tub smiling. Page after page of beautiful prose, heartbreaking honesty, and a braveness I envied. Her words swept me away and carried me long into the next day.

I thought, not for the first time, that I should be proud of myself for being able to keep up in that duet with her. I had a complete and utter fan girl moment, the delight of reading her words, becoming a friend with someone capable of making every line of prose a praise to the love of words.

And then I read her second book.

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Let me say, before I even begin talking about Depression’s Dance that I am not a great person. Truly. I have moments of failure just like everyone else. My mother suffers from depression. I’m not always as supportive as I could be. There are times when the caustic words, “Are you taking your medicine?” slip from my mouth. There are times I roll my eyes, or turn my back when she is falling apart and doesn’t know why.

I think, I know when I am sad. I know WHY I am sad. How could you not know? How could you just wake up sad? It doesn’t compute. Doesn’t make sense.

I told you I’m not a good person. Understanding is a fickle thing. You see, unless a person has lived through/with something, they can never really understand. Not truly.

In Depression’s Dance, Hasty gave a voice to depression. She allowed her reader a chance to snoop and spy. For a few hours, I was permitted to sit down at the table, quietly listen to a conversation that has probably played multiple times through anyone’s mind that suffers from this disease. Her words allowed me a moment to really, truly listen. To hear. Perhaps not to understand, but to at least feel empathy.

She taught me empathy.

And so I hope that others will pick this book up. I hope they will take a moment and allow themselves to listen to this conversation. I try to remember it now. I keep going back to it. I need to keep that lesson in mind. I need to keep my empathy close at hand.

I need to apologize to my mother.

To friends, to anyone, who hears this voice inside them. I am sorry.

But bear with me.

I’m learning.

 

She is Raging

Trigger Warning: This post makes reference to miscarriage, loss, pregnancy. 

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I want to sit back and write something witty. I want to grab you on the first line and take you along some story’s path, so we can come out together at the end, holding hands and feeling quite proud of ourselves. I want to have words to give you, sprinkle around your mind like beautiful confetti.

But I don’t have it today.

I’ve got nothing to give.

I think all in all I’ve been handling this well. I mean, by the definition of “well” that everyone around me uses.

“Oh, she’s good.”

“She’s fine.”

“You look well.”

She’s not good. She’s staring at her Facebook and seeing post after post of baby bumps and nurseries and baby showers and count downs and newborn photos. She’s not good, because she’s angry and she’s jealous. It’s not that she isn’t happy for them. It’s not that she doesn’t wish them the best. She just wishes she had what they do. She wants in on that little world again.

She’s not fine. She’s standing in the checkout and people keep opening their mouths.

“How far along are you now?”

“You’re barely even showing.”

“How’s baby doing?”

When are you do?”

And so she has to say that the baby is gone, again and again and again. The words stick in her throat and she’s choking on them, bending over to let them fall out of her mouth with a delicate thud. She’s not fine and she’s sick with speaking of it.

She looks well. She lost what weight she’d gained and she has more energy. The pregnancy had made her so sick. She looks healthy again. There is color in her cheeks and her hair has regained its bounce. She gets dressed a little more often. She paints her face. She crawls into bed with her husband, aching and needy and everything is back to the way it was and her world has settled into a muted thing, because she is well and so she is waiting. Waiting for her body and his to have that tiny moment of collision that will breathe new life into her womb and it terrifies her.

But she’s raging.

She wakes up and groggy eyed checks her email. Entirely too many messages, but it’s the morning routine. And she sees the words:

You haven’t purchased anything off your baby registry. Sign in now to get everything baby needs! 

So the company attached a coupon to ease the burn behind the idea that she is such a bad mother-to-be, she hasn’t even bought anything off her list. She has no crib, no carseat, no newborn diapers. She has no bouncing chairs, no teething rings, no footed pajamas. She has no formula, no Tylenol, no soft and fleecy blankets.

But she has rage at seeing it.

She has pain that sparks behind her eyes and they’d call them tears, but they burn hot streaks down her face and she thinks she could set the entire world on fire with her emotions overflowing.

She is raging.

And her husband comes home and kisses her on the head. He asks, “What’s wrong?” And she tells him, “Nothing.” 

And she pushes the rage back long enough to kiss him. To make him his breakfast. To prepare herself for getting the children up. It’s a matter of survival now and she can’t be the woman she’s supposed to be with everything snapping apart. She shoves it down, like a pill stuck in her throat. She buries it deep.

Congrats on the new baby! He’s beautiful.

The nursery looks wonderful. You all got a lot of work done.

Good luck at the hospital. You and baby are in my thoughts. 

Look at that bump! Any day now. . .

Click this button to unsubscribe from future BabiesRUs promotions. 

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Herstory Lesson: “You are so brave and quiet I forget you are suffering.” – Ernest Hemingway

Weakened

I was asked awhile ago to write for Black Box Warnings. If you aren’t familiar with them, stop trying to look them up…they have since quietly faded out. Over the holidays the site went down, and so while I sit here with my thoughts on the wonderful people that ran that site, and hopes that things will get better for them and they can return soon, I decided to share the post with you from here. I hope you enjoy it, though enjoy might be the wrong word. I hope it let’s you in for a moment. I hope it makes you feel.

That’s what writing it for, right? To make us feel something.

So I wrote about feeling weak. I wrote about the moment when I noticed weakness in others around me.

I learned to cherish weakness, the humanity of that emotion.

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You tell yourself you shouldn’t say anything. It’s too early, and you’ve been here before. This isn’t a new ride for you, but you feel like you’ve been waiting in the line for it forever. Your body’s been craving this thing, this filling. You’ve been striving for it, every ounce of your DNA straining forward, as if it were just out of your reach. But you knew you’d get it, and you did, and now you hold the proof in the little plastic strip in your hand and the plus sign is bright and pink. It practically screams it’s a girl, but it’s too soon to know such things. It’s too early, and you’ve been here before. Besides, they used pink for boys in the past. It could be his son. It could be his boy.

It’s his first anyway. Just because you’ve done it before, doesn’t mean he has. No, he will be excited. He will be nervous and frightened, because he is a good husband, a good man, and a good father to the two mini-clones of his wife that run around the house in the early morning hours with an energy you both envy. He will be proud of you and touch your belly and hold you close for a few moments. He will smile and grab his phone and you won’t even think about it. It’s too early, and you’ve been here before.

His mother is calling you and you know he’s told them. He’s told them all. In his excitement he has leapt onto the digital rooftop and yelled out his news through the Facebook megaphone. You haven’t even been to the doctor yet, but you know, you know. Your body is changing, quickly it seems.

You are older now. Your body has grown soft. Your husband doesn’t complain. He likes the curves and the shape women call womanly, in that snarky tone of theirs. As if any one shape defines a woman. As if this is your definition: your broad hips that are soft on the sides, and the small pudge of a belly that never disappeared after your son had finished pushing the boundaries of your body and leaving the road map of faded white bolts across your skin.

You don’t remember how you told your father the first times. You should remember those sorts of things, but you think hard and cannot. Your father is a silent strength in your world. Words are scarce, but heavy. The memories you hold strongest are the ones where you saw him weakened. It seemed so odd, so out of place. It seemed so fake, that you stood there staring at that man and wondering who he had become, until you realized with a sort of bone-deep fear that he was the same man who held you when you fell apart and there you were, standing there frozen, while they told him his father was dying and you could hear him suck in a breath as if he were inhaling the world. It was a silence so deep before the break that caught in his throat and choked you. It sent you running from the room.

These things you remember, but not how you told him about his granddaughter. The little child he had to wear a mask to see the first time in the hospital. You don’t remember how you told him he would soon have a grandson, but you remember him in the room with you when you delivered. You remember saying, “I can’t do this” and him telling you, “You don’t have a choice.”

It’s that silent strength and you shouldn’t have said anything at all.

But you ran out, your feet scraping on the blacktop, bare in the cold frosty air that seemed to come earlier and earlier every fall. The leaves hadn’t even finished turning and the grass was still green, but there was a chill that seeped inside you and you knew it was too early. He was in his shed working and you said, “I have news” and he said, “You’re pregnant.” Just that, two words, and you both laughed. You smiled and he went back to work, smiling and silent.

You go to the doctor and you see the picture. It’s a peanut in black and grey. It’s a tiny little shape, like a croissant roll wrapped and fluffy. You see shades and a flicker that they point to and say, “Heartbeat”. Such a massive two syllable word. You look at your husband and he’s sitting there frozen, staring at the screen in some kind of wonder. He’s got no words and it’s that silent strength characteristic again and you feel at home and safe, even though it’s early. It’s so early.

You’ve been so sick. You’ve been living in sweatpants and your husband’s big t-shirts. You’ve had to battle with yourself and argue with the image in the mirror to make yourself want to shower, but everything smells bad and all you want to do is curl up and sleep. You are so tired. Your hair is a mess and you haven’t shaved your legs in so long, the husband laughs when he brushes against them. He drags you into the shower. He hands you a razor, like a silent plea to return to the woman he knew before. Something has changed in you, and you know it is different this time. You know it’s early.

His mother has invited you for dinner. It’s a holiday and special, so you shower and shave. He didn’t even have to ask. And you buy a new shirt and wear your new pants, because your body is soft and it’s changing so fast. You do up your make-up and slide in your earrings and your husband stares at this woman and wonders where she has been. You ride to his mother’s with his hand on your thigh, sliding closer and closer while the children are in the back and can’t see what he’s doing, or figure out why you are smiling like that. It’s a rekindling and it’s been so cold. You’ve both needed it for so long.

You’re on the porch later, when dinner is over, the phone clutched in white knuckles. You’ve never seen your father-in-law move so fast. He’s throwing your children’s toys into their bag, while your husband stuffs them in coats, and you are dancing in the cold while your mother-in-law packs turkey in a bag. You don’t even like turkey. And grandma is hugging you and telling you, “You’ll be okay”. Last year you told this woman you loved her, and she said, “You don’t even know me”. You felt sorry for someone who couldn’t accept a little love. Now you are here and you don’t want her to touch you. You don’t want anyone to touch you. You have to protect it and everyone is a danger, because something is wrong, and it’s so early.

If there is something invasive they can do, they do it. You have so many hands on you, inside you, machines that are beeping and blood being drawn. You have a negative blood type, so you have to get a shot. You know this. You know without it, your body will attack the life inside it, like a parasite it is trying to rid itself of. Always so quick to grow, in a body that wants to destroy. You start thinking, what did I do wrong? Why won’t it stop?

This woman, with her short hair comes in and you know, because her poker face is terrible. And she knows it, and blurts it out.

“There’s no heartbeat.”

You know it is real, because your husband can’t move. You are breaking into a million little pieces on their gurney. There is blood on your thighs and that thick, sticky gel on your stomach. There’s an IV in your arm, but it’s hooked up to nothing, and a bruise on your hip that will be there for weeks where they gave you a shot so you wouldn’t kill a baby that was already dead. You’re leaking out and he isn’t moving. Your husband. He’s sitting there and he can’t get up and you know it is real. You know he would come to you, but he’s having his moment. You are seeing him weakened and it frightens you, but you can’t run away and you can’t even go to him, because there isn’t enough of you left to stand up.

You are home and your father walks down the hallway. You’re in the living room, trying to find some channel on the TV that will occupy your children long enough to keep them away so you can save them the fear of seeing their parent snapping apart like a collection of wishbones. Your father, that silent strength. That man of few words. The one who once sucked up the world into his lungs and taught you how to crack. He’s there and he doesn’t touch you. He stands a few feet away and you are very aware that he doesn’t look you in the eye. You are very aware that you have switched places, and he is where you were as a child watching him mourn.

“I’m sorry about the baby.”