Sleeper.

I see the familiar namesake,

it’s held close to the core of my being,

I feel the familiar heartache,

as I walk closer to this namesake I see;

there are feelings tugging inside of me,

laughter – tears – pure tragedy,

I whisper hello and sit down beside,

the headstone I’m reading with pride;

I hate to come to this place of despair,

but long to somehow feel somewhat near,

to the brother I once buried here,

to the one who’s death lingers so vividly,

imparted onto the soul of me,

imprinted into my darkest memories,

impressed upon my happiest childhood scenes;

and here, is where you now remain,

a headstone lettered by your name,

without mention of what your life could’ve been,

without question that you’ll stay in this place;

I see a young smile, missing front teeth,

a 5th grader with double-scraped knees,

a handsome teenager too timid to speak,

my fiercest protector on the neighborhood streets,

but the thing I can’t shake from my mind,

is how you opted to leave me wondering why,

cursing myself through the sleepless nights,

for the way you ended your tender life.

 

Topsoil.

There is an ugly secret
In the form of topsoil
Piled upon the surface
At the site of your burial
Whenever I’m here I see it
As if I fall under a spell
I still can’t fully believe it
Despite what history must tell
It’s a very heavy mystery
So long later down the line
A burden shouldered perpetually
After a decade’s worth of time
I remember standing for hours
In that place right over there
Torrential rain and thunder showers
Soaked clothes and soggy hair
But I could never bring myself
To go from this place easily
And every time I’d finally go
The loss of you felt new to me
I carry your secrets
Kept as my own still
I harbour your worries
And I always will.

Writ in Water.

It seems that only those included in the number of human beings that are afflicted by “The Word”, that are also stained by the attached process. A love for words begins early in Life for those of us who harbor one; mine did, at least.

I recall noting many “adult” words that I overheard in “adult” conversations during my childhood; words such as: proverbial (I still over-use it, by default), harlequin (A word that I loved so much as a child, I chose it as a name for my first dog), hankering (a word that has a definition just as awesome as it is), overlord (a word that remains as fun to say today as it did when I was three), and most memorably: Tachyon (a word that I notoriously misused throughout my childhood because I simply loved to say and spell it). I was notorious for making statements that were made up of various idioms and adages I had heard my older male family members (my Papa, Dad, or any of my 5 older brothers) use. I am teased to this day over things I said in all earnestness, as a young girl trying to be super serious and to be taken seriously.

SOME EXAMPLES:

“Don’t put all of your eggs in a gift horse’s mouth before they hatch”

“Never kick a gift-horse you led to water in the mouth when he’s down”

“Give a man a fish, shame on you; teach him to fish, shame on me

 “Kicking the bowl”, instead of the bucket

 

I knew my ABC’s way too early as well; I can partially remember the day that I was in my Dad’s lap at the kitchen table and we were coloring together (so I must have been super young because I became “too old” to sit in his lap by the time I was 3.5 years, according to my Papa) and my Dad surprised me by asking me if I knew the alphabet yet. He was trying to mess with me, being certain that I didn’t – and that he would be able to give me shit for not knowing an answer – he was good like that. I can guarantee that he was the more shocked of the two of us when I belted out the entire song correctly without missing a beat; being the oldest of his own siblings, my Dad often overlooked the power that having a clan of older brothers gave me in such instances. I was (and still am) like a dried out sponge just waiting to absorb any information made available to me in any given context.

It was like I saw words as people spoke them, like a cartoon bubble over everyone’s heads, all the time. I was a naturally excellent speller as a child, something I have lost touch with in the time in between; I just LOVED words – there’s no other way to describe it. There is only one “wordsmith” in my immediate family, and it had been my Papa, who doubled as my daycare provider during my pre-school era. This became one of the most enriching and enlightening parts of my youth when it comes to words and my love for them; we often played word games together that loosely ran all day long and into dinner-time. My Papa gifted me very, very generously with his mind, heart and brain, indeed. In grade school, I was able to win over the others in my class every time through the shaping and molding of the words I chose to use on them; I took sweeping victories in my campaigns for the Student Union or Student Council positions I went after, because of the speeches I had written and the way I worded them. I was a peacemaker at home and on the playground – and my love of vocabulary never let me down in that context either. On the flip side, it has been the same love of words and literary expression that has wounded me deeply many times in Life, too, however. I am sensitive to the weight that words carry in an almost exquisite way; something that is tried and true: impossible to explain to a non-word-lover. When the weight of a word has been passed along to me, I have carried it no matter how heavy it may have been.

Most, if not all, people not afflicted by “The Word” have no appreciation for the burden attached to being a carrier of its weight, and behave accordingly. I have realized in the more recent years of my life: just how much I am affected by literature and the artistic use of words, as I find myself feeling the most emotions available to me during times that I have absorbed written content. There is just so much simplicity alongside of such intricacy in words and the beautiful combinations they can concisely make up. John Keats, my all-time favorite romance  poet, who was so perfected in his wordsmithing skills that he often made women cry and men shrink, left on his headstone, the most eloquent description of it all:

“Here lies one whose name was writ in water.”

You dig?

 

Holding.

I can still surely say,

I won’t let you fade,

I still tearfully celebrate,

the anniversary,

your former birthday;

bless that day you came,

and changed everything,

a little, blue bundle,

so similar to me;

barely junior to me,

by just thirteen months,

arriving epically,

to button our family up,

you were technically,

the reason, meaningfully,

each day that I’d wake up,

and everybody noticed,

the natural bond between us;

years and experience,

were hardest on you,

your mind was too fragile,

your heart was too huge,

and, regretfully

I failed to see,

the toll it took on you,

and when I blinked my eyes,

you were bigger than I,

and just as intelligent, too;

there remains,

in my heart – a pang,

words still lingering,

from our childhood days,

we used to complain,

and each would convey,

how we hated sharing,

a birthday party;

as so very few,

between 25 and 22,

they always killed both birdies,

through ONE party that they threw;

I know you never meant it,

I continue to pray,

that you knew the same,

if I could have you back again,

I’d give up my birthdays,

without the slightest hesitation,

to see your face again,

to bring you medicine,

whatever situation,

I might have you in;

we were so, considered,

just like a set of twins,

we had something special,

something better,

born in Forever,

part of who I am;

I know you’d,

surely understand,

why I’ve become,

this thing that I am,

and these days,

a “birthday”,

only stands to represent,

another wound,

another loss,

another failure,

another painful regret.

today would be that party,

that you and me,

always hated to share,

and let me tell you,

I would sit happily,

without a word,

Gods willing,

bone-chilling,

you were here.

 

 

 

 

 

It’s An Ice Cream Cake.

Go back about 30 years to when I got my first pair of bike shorts;

…yup, bike shorts; remember those?

Yeah, those – with the neon stripe down either outer leg, that’s right. At the time, my brothers gave me Hell, beginning a life-long joke that has something to do with my thighs and the word “drumsticks”. It was due to this very instance that I was too self-conscious to wear anything even remotely tight on my legs until maybe…like, 5 or 6 years ago; it was due to the drumsticks that I never wore shorts growing up. I never wore a bathing suit in the absence of shorts, either; I dropped out of cheer-leading (which was probably a blessing in disguise anyway; imagine me as a cheerleader, wow…).

Shivers

It was that singularly potent time; that half-hour of being taunted and laughed at in my new bike shorts by my older brothers that turned my legs into “Turkey Sticks” for decades to come. I honestly spent many years of my Life with the warped image of two big ol’ turkey drumsticks in the mirror where my legs should’ve been.

And, so…in the spirit of keeping me on my toes and looking alive for my REAL BIRTHDAY, my roommate Dice got me this amazingly sweet reminder of the good old days at home with my brothers.

NOTE: Dice is so very much like any one of my brothers in a given moment, that this totally acceptable and fitting, coming from him.

Tie.

There is something wholly satisfying in a moment of childhood nostalgia shared between siblings through the recollected eyes of adulthood;
There is an ancient mentally embedded sensation woven into such an instance akin to the finishing of a most gluttonous seven-course feast of the most filling foods and drink;
It is the momentary revival of our most purely experienced joys in Life, our most simply created smiles attached to memories that science has hinted will be vividly with us until we expire in old age;
It is the reminder of band-aids and muddy knee scrubs, bedtime stories and a belief in the impossible;
There are truths revealed through the adult moments spent together in casual and comfortable silences in which words are not necessary to just BE;
These truths bear features of each sibling, dead or alive, as they did in early life when hardships weren’t yet upon the heart;
These truths are the tie that binds.

Ties.

The broken, even those like me who have a very limited family to choose from, come back to our blood when we can. I have shared every year how hard the holidays are on me – and how I feel as if I have only barely recovered from one holiday’s wounds before it’s already Christmastime again. Admittedly, this year isn’t as bad as the stack of years leading up to it, somehow – likely because of the changes that have taken, and continue to take effect on my own psyche, I know…but, the overall emptiness and hollowed out feeling remains, in spite of the beginning of my own process of letting go of any former (and completely futile) expectations, hopes and/or goals in regard to my child, my own identity, and the future in general.

I’ve also written about my family a lot: my clan of older brothers, still living – my single younger brother, long dead. I have written about the two separate sets of kids that my father reared: THE ORIGINALS (the older set of four boys) and THE NON-ORIGINALS (the younger set of two boys and myself); my family structure growing up was odd, at best…but very close knit, in spite of such a wide-ranging collection. During childhood, I was closest to the baby, JJ, who committed suicide very young; and also with my very oldest brother, German, who is old enough to be my (young) father. The rest of my brothers and I have always missed that certain “connection”, for lack of a better term.

Nate, who is right above me in age (19 months older) and the first born of the NON-ORIGINALS, is very different from me in every way possible, as was he from JJ. Our childhoods kept us close but as soon as we began to grow up and foster our own personalities, Nate decided that he no longer cared too much for us. His high IQ and exquisite intelligence always alienated us; his introverted and anti-social persona didn’t help. After our father died, and our family was split up and separated permanently, the only one that I remained in daily contact with was JJ because we were kept together for a time. I found out after his death that Nathan had specifically asked to placed somewhere separately from us, and this morsel of information literally felt as if it had broken my spirit somehow for years, afterward.

Through my discovery of such a painful truth, Nate had made himself dead to me as well; I didn’t even count him as part of my family for almost a decade. It was ice between us. When I was recovering from the attempt on my life by the Ripper and all that drama, he never even checked on me once – never asked about me – basically it seemed that I was dead to him, in turn. When I came home, however, and he saw that I meant business in my own recovery and rehabilitation (my life prior to that was spent as a hostage to a psychopathic husband), he flipped a switch and became my staunchest ally, nearly overnight. He has gotten married and become a father since then; he seems to love me more as a result of those things, somehow.

His first-born, three-year-old “Cay-Cay”, is truly saving my life these days; giving me a spiritual renewal that I couldn’t (and wouldn’t) have thought possible at such an emotionally defeated time for me, reminding me that I am still worth something to at least one young, formidable soul out there. Her fierce and unwavering love for me has been like a lifeboat in the darkest swells of a lifetime. And, beneath it all, I have this sense of my brother’s love, too. He has been almost forceful with maintaining such an exceptional bond between she and I since the moment she was born, even before my life fell the rest of the way to shambles, it’s like he sensed the need somehow. He foresaw things that I was blind to seeing and successfully created a kind of safety net of emotional/spiritual fulfillment for me, just in case.

Of course, as with most things in life, these are things that are only just now becoming apparent to me – but I do recognize them. And there are not words to express the ton-of-bricks I am buried beneath when it comes to feeling grateful to him for it.