He calls her his moon because he says that she is his reflection
His better half…and after 15 plus years, excuse the cliché
But she says he takes her breath away…like asthma
In the past, Poppa Bear’s been so good to her and the kids
Cupboards never bare, roof overhead
Walk in full of shoes and clothes
And everybody knows these two were made for each other
She says he’s worth it
Empathizes with the strain in his eyes
She apologies for his issues with compliance
Maybe if I just stay quiet
But worse than staying oblivious, his outbursts hurt
When the curse words rain
Her finger itches around her wedding ring
Every time he reminds her
That life would not be so nice without him
She keeps silent and
Serving the dinner with trembling hands
She makes the effort to understand him
Even asks her pastor
And his sermons warn that a woman has a role
So when he loses control when the dinner rolls
Bake a bit too hard
The quote rings in her ears, “Wives, submit yourselves
Unto your husbands, as unto the Lord.”
So when her palm presses against
The fingerprints in her arm
Pulling sleeve down over the black and blue
Forgive them Father for they know not what they do…
Each time the fever subsides
And his eyes go from coldness to contrition
She listens to his reasons with fatigued ears
Bitch becomes a term of endearment.
He fears losing everything he’s gained
Dabs her saturated cheeks with admissions of grief and sorrow
Promising tomorrow he’ll be better
And she makes the decision whether to believe him or not
She looks around at everything they’ve got and thinks of their family
And their history, the sanctity of their vows
And how he can’t seem to catch a break
She thinks of their babies, their savings
And the neighbors who heard her screams but chose not to save her
Whatever will they think?
He just had a few drinks too many
And there’s been plenty times when
There were more kisses than curse words…
Where can she go with no money
No job, no father to the kids
He’s sorry for what he did
So she hid “bitch you’re worthless” amid their wedding vows
And hid the bruises among the flowers
To camouflage the color of blood in the midst of roses
He stole her breath away…
When he choked her by the throat
And she’s chosen to ignore the fear that her breath might not come back no more
Presses play on Badu…I’m an Orange Moon
But she only lip syncs because she must stay silent
Squeezing them together because they still sting
She is his everything
His better half
But maybe better ain’t sufficient
If something’s deficient in your math
How can fractured fractions expect anything to last
With a lack of wholeness in you
He calls her his moon because he says that she is his reflection
But he busts the glass into pieces as if to release his demons
He chases them to the bull’s eye on her face
And the blood she tastes smears across her mouth
Smile stretched over clenched teeth
The stain of never complaining on her lips
She is his moon, reflecting
She is his moon
A Letter to Me
I want you to run around and around in a circle until you’re dizzy and you fall out giggling. I want you to walk outside naked. Eat a bug, why not. Laugh at the sounds of bees. Do all of this Because You Can. Sit on your mother’s knees until she says that you’re too heavy, and don’t wipe the kisses from your forehead. Let the imprints linger. You’ll miss them. I promise you this.
You will never be this perfect again. Your mouth and eyes are both still soft. Wear yellow while it doesn’t make you self-conscious of looking like God. Shine while you’re not paying attention. I won’t forget you.
You didn’t cut yourself down there. No one told you, but this means that boys will begin to see you as more than the best kick ball draft pick. You will know embarrassment as thick as the blood you hope doesn’t show when you stand up but you will have to stand up sometimes…so you might as well get used to doing it no matter what other people think of you. You only have a few hugs left. Let them teach you more than the ass whippings.
I’m sorry, but yes, those breasts are only going to get bigger. So is the distance between you and home. You are learning habits that will take a long time to undo, and you won’t get to say that you are sorry. They know you are sorry. They are sorry even if their words and their hands say otherwise. When your brother aims at your chest now with fists and feet, I need you to run. It’s ok to run. You won’t always have this luxury, so do it now while you still can. Jump from that window and don’t look back because I don’t want you to turn into stone. Nothing about surviving will be easy, but you are the one that may not make it if you stay. Go. No one will follow you this time. Run.
I’m sorry that someone followed you this time. I’m sorry that I taught you to be so brave that you forgot to be cautious. You will never remember his face. You will only recall the feeling of your back pinned to cobblestones, and you will remember the moment you understood that love isn’t the only thing that makes babies. This will be the only time a lie was the right thing to do. This is where you learn to sacrifice, and this is where you will train yourself to forget because forgiveness is decades away from being an option. Push. Push hard and breathe. This is only the beginning of needing to do it anyway no matter how much it hurts. His tiny hands and feet will hold you tight, so hold him close and remember: this is what love feels like.
Dear twenty one.
Your life is never going to come with instructions. Make mistakes. Don’t regret 16 just because it wasn’t sweet, and everything that had to be up until now was by no means by accident. You may die a few times. Lessons in changing are necessary, especially for butterflies.
Dear thirty one.
This is the heart of the story. The previous chapters were just a rough draft and it keeps changing. Get used to it. Don’t feel sorry for twelve through twenty one because they only trained you for everything that came before thirty two. Thank them every day for staying around. They didn’t have to.
Dear thirty two.
I hope you kept those forehead kisses for as long as you could. I tried to tell you. You’ll record her breathing on a cell phone hoping to hold on to the sound, but it won’t be the same as hearing your name. Those memories will be as fragile as disintegrating photographs unearthed in Katrina soaked apartments. It’s time to stop running and to remember You wearing the color yellow.
Dear thirty eight.
You’ve been waiting for your breath to come back. You are only just learning to use your lungs but don’t be afraid to speak everything into existence. This is what you have been given. But this is not the time to think that this gift is a consolation prize for zero through now. Every moment before this was the reason, and these words are simply how the story gets told. So be open. Trust the process. And when your passion asks you to listen to Vickie’s stories, pay attention. It will mean more than you think.
Dear thirty nine.
Happy birthday. You will get many gifts this year, but the biggest will be the simple little book that Vickie gives you because karma is not always a bitch. She will hand you the right book at the right time that will inspire each one of these lines but only if you spend the last thirty eight years learning why she is just as significant and worthy as every forehead kiss or missed prom or son born, or sun rise because time flies but every mile of that journey has a purpose that is worth every pain of growing.
…so when she hands you that gift, hug her like she has given you the universe for your birthday because she has. Hugs will only get easier now. Eat cake. Watch more cartoons in your pajamas. Hold hands with strangers. Do all of this Because You Can. And stand up when everybody’s looking. It’s ok. You have absolutely nothing to hide.