Chocolate milk and cheesecake only for me/pink walls my mother painted all by herself/with a paint roller on a ladder smiling/she was so excited/“I picked the sweetest shade of pink for you”/she never painted anyone else’s room/she gave me all the things that she had wanted as a war torn child/and treated me like a sickly princess/who might die any day/like a fragile privileged invalid/because I was born with a heart condition/she spoiled me with more attention/I was the permanent baby of the family/I had a fluffy lavender shag rug/lace curtains, white vanity dresser with embellished roses/and matching white canopied bed.
Memories are frozen in places that I can’t ever return to/sitting with our dog under the red maple tree/they both sheltered me/with beauty outside my bedroom window/I had luxuries/my own mini b&w tv/a library of gifted books/the moonlight and stars/blinking like fireflies through the leaves/living year round Christmas trees/breathing oxygen in at night with the wind/I wish I could revisit/that place was my home for so long/at the most primary time of my life/that home witnessed/so many tragic and hilarious things/I feel like I’m partially lost/a part of myself stayed like a ghost/there with my abandoned family/my parents especially mourned my departure. I broke the mold/generations of traditions followed/but I changed the course/for better or for worse.
She had to leave me as a baby/and she cried for years waiting to save me/finally bring me home/so she gave me privileges no one else had/she stashed a bag of snickers miniatures in my closet/“Don’t tell your sister” she whispered/she always treated me like special royalty/gave me a tablet eyed stuffed Garfield and baby Garfield/“They’re from Santa,” she said/but I snuck days ahead/and saw them in her closet before it was wrapped/I didn’t appreciate what she gave me/I just pretended to because it made her so happy.
I was father’s favorite and everybody knew/he gave me an orange tabby kitten/a stray who followed him at work/mother conditionally let her stay/but only in my room/or else “she’ll scratch the living room curtains”/Grandma named her Boeppy/she was the smartest cat/slept in my arms/but at times I was abusive/I hit her when she didn’t listen/just like my father did to my siblings and mom/but she remained faithful/I was a volcanic pint sized rager/repeating what was normal in our family/hitting equaled discipline/because of me my cat suffered pain and fear/I regret that deeply/I know now what I didn’t know then/violence solves nothing/it makes everything worse.
I learned violence early/I remember the beautiful victorian doll that got me beaten/when I was 5 or 6/father punished me with a belt/I remember it only slightly/but my sister remembers well/she was 11 or 12/I remember the intense fear I felt/Father had returned from a business trip/he brought us both presents/hers was a small dollhouse with plastic furniture and kitchen/mine was an expensive Victorian doll with blinking long-lashed eyes/loose ringlet curled hair in bangs/she had a black velvet buttoned jacket/with a white frilled layered dress/with pantyhose stockings with seams on the back and soft velvet shoes/she was the more expensive gift/mother said she should be kept safe away on display/and my sister pretended her gift was better/because she was jealous/she wouldn’t let me play with her house/so I got mad and scattered the pieces/and he found out/thought I was being selfish/so he should teach me by hitting me with a belt/because that’s how he learned to discipline/he probably endured much worst/every generation’s curse of abuse/has ripples of effect/that get calmer the farther away from the original explosion.
She apologized to my high school principal/when they caught me cutting classes/entire days I was absent/I went to the movies/took my friends once too/that’s when we were caught/my mother blamed them/but I told her it was all my fault/“Why would you do that?”/“Because I hate school I don’t have close friends”/“They were a bad influence on you!”/“No I was the bad influence/I don’t belong anywhere in any group/and high school is about popularity/I hate it there, but I’m sorry I tricked you.”
When Father found out he hit the roof/I was shocked that he didn’t beat me up/instead he said, “I’m ashamed of you. Your mother begged for you to not be expelled!”/She gave me pizza later although my father said/I should go to bed hungry/She brought it to my room/smiling like a candle/she wasn’t afraid of father/she was always so bravely defiant/my mother lioness/“But Father said I should go hungry as a punishment.”/“No,” she shook her head/smiling from her eyes and heart. I was afraid he’d catch me eating, but he didn’t.
She couldn’t understand that I could be bad/because she viewed me as innocent always/incapable of rebellion/she assumed I was led astray/she thought I was incredibly naive and therefore weak/but I wasn’t who she thought I was/or maybe I had changed/quiet ones can suddenly surprise you.
I disappointed her by leaving our family home/but I felt I had no other choice/I felt explosive around my family/shell shocked from our violent history/but they could cope codependently/absorb survive transcend/through Jesus to extend forgiveness/but I couldn’t reconcile the hypocrisy/of a good atheist going to hell/while a serial killer could accept Jesus and gain eternal salvation/it made no sense to me.
I was the madwoman in the wilderness/of immoral San Francisco/the LGBT rainbow fetish-friendly city of liberalism/“What are you doing there?”/“When are you coming home?” they all said/“Never, but it’s not because I don’t love you/I always do and always will/Do you believe me?”
“You could’ve married anyone you wanted to here/handsome doctors and lawyers/all the girls were jealous of you/and were lucky that you left/you were more beautiful than all of them/if only you had stayed.”/“No I wasn’t and you’re not listening, Mom”/“Yes I am”/“You’re not hearing me”/“Yes I do. I know you, you’re my daughter/you come from me so I know you’re smart and special/I see you more clearly than you do”.
Mother wrote this poem to me/“We love you always, your wet eyes are always in my heart, in my heart”/she cut out the poem on lined paper in the shape of a butterfly/wrapped around a check/For many years she saved me from poverty/just like she saved her own family/she was a hero when she was just a child/she taught me about goodness by example/but she never knew how much I admired her.