Rage, Dear Brave One

In the spirit of International Women’s Day, I want to salute all the women who’ve survived/escaped/rejected abusive relationships.
Know that you are strong.
Know that you are worth more.

“Rage, Dear Brave One”

Ripped through
Reeling from the
Refuse of a
Relationship gone toxic and
Repressive.

Read my eyes and
Realize I’m not that. I’m
Real. I’m here to
Reject the idea that being handled can be
Read as being held.

Rain and tears aren’t ‘sposed to mix.
Remember when you wore flowers in your hair?
Realms of daring princesses and
Reigns of dragons?
Raging wars that were never ‘sposed to touch
Reality? Take back the dream and
Rage against the animal that’s
Ruling you
Rendering you lifeless, breathless
Ravaged.

Rage, my dear brave one.
Rage.

It doesn’t have to be this way.
-ijs

Advertisements

Echoes – an essay

Three notes. Three notes pulsating through the darkness. Something within me rises to meet them. I’ve never heard them before, but I could swear a buried memory wants to claim them. Around me, the dimmed theatre sits hushed as the opening chords of “The Mighty Rio Grande” whisper in. For a moment, the movie takes a back seat to its own score; the story somehow overshadowed by the melody.

The moment passes. But somehow the music touched somewhere. Stirred something.

You know the feeling: a chord, an arpeggio, a riff . . . you hear it, and a memory explodes across your mind. A memory so clear, so present, you can taste, smell it. You’re there. Somehow.

“Jessica’s Theme” . . . It’s dusk; I’m on a ridge looking down across the North Carolina mountains. Fog slowly fills the fields, puddling like some lazy stream. A breath of mountain air ruffles my hair and whispers on through the trees. Absolute solitude. Reverence. Stars fight their way through the last light of the bleeding sun, their icy brilliance adding another dimension to the deepening void. That song somehow takes me there every time.

Through the years a group of songs has become so entwined through my being all I need to hear is one whisper–notes through the open window of a passing car, a barely-caught bar while scanning the radio, background mall music–and my senses jump on edge. Ears straining to catch it. Imagination somehow already replaying the scenes. “Taps,” “Bolero,” bagpipes wailing “Amazing Grace,” “Freedom,” others . . .

What is it? I hear it. Eyes widen. A smile tugs at the corners of my mouth. I feel myself turning to the nearest person. Wanting to explain. To share. The half-smile freezes. The words die before they’re born. I’ve learned–it’s not their memory. It’s mine. I sit back.

In the theatre. Not alone, but alone, I take in the music. Acknowledging the rare moment–the moment when another song adds itself to your life’s playlist. You don’t pick the songs. They pick you.

I sit back and listen.

*author’s note: I wrote this on September 27, 2011, but over the last week a couple of songs crossed my path again. They took me back. Way back. So I decided to dig in my files and dust this off. Hope you enjoy it.

Silence Falls

Rain whispers
And the cars they pass
And I watch
Faceless drivers inside going and going.

And I realize I am one of them
But where am I going
And once I get there
Must I go further?

I don’t know
And thinking about it frightens me
I am so deeply tired
I find that I want to stop.

If I can look from a safe place
Maybe I’ll see where I am going
But I have lost my way
The black is around and under me.

I think I will pull others down with me
So I run deeper into myself
Where questions won’t reach
And silence finally falls.
-ijs

Distraction

She wanted my heart
but all I could give
was my body
and so we drank a bottle
then played that song

and I held her
while she rode me
into the morning
threw the alarm clock on the floor
and we followed it
while our heat went up in shadows
on the walls

She asked me to stay
unable to see
she was talking to a ghost
and in the morning blue
I closed the door
and walked out of her life
and left her alone
wearing nothing but her makeup.
-ijs

Maybe I Waited

I suppose (maybe) I liked the way
You haunted the halls of my heart
Whispering your cold, dark pain
But maybe there are better places (now)
To find my inspiration.

I think (maybe) I’ve drawn that well dry
Coming back once too often
And it’s possible I kept searching those depths
Because I thought to leave it
Would kill a part of me.

It’s time for you to go
(let me be)
Because you’re already gone
A tortured ghost
Snatched by yesterday’s breeze.
-ijs

Familiar

ghost

I lean into the warm water, feeling it fill my ears with a soft whoompf, the tip of my nose and lips just breaking the surface. Slow, measured breaths. Quiet breaths. The ceiling shimmers and flexes as I open my eyes, the water stings for a second. I like the pain. I’ve always liked it. Razors with their warm shiny edges, beautiful wet blades. It connects me to a body I don’t quite own.

The light flickers, buzzes, blacks out, wavers back to life. The cold fluorescent echoing in shadows.

Warm waves flood my scalp as Mama’s fingers ripple through my hair. Hands move mechanically, massaging my head. I go limp.

Shall I braid it?

I slide up, nuzzling my neck into the edge of the porcelain tub. I nod. I’ve missed my braid. Wiggling my fingers, I check the mobility in my left hand. A little better.

Good girl.

She leans over me. The light pops zzzaaap, black splatters her face.

“Sing?” I mumble.

Her hands disappear for a second. I feel her shift behind me and then lean closer.

Rock-a-bye, baby

fingers trace the red welted scars on my wrist. My blood burns. An itch only a razor can scratch.

on a treetop

fingers press into the flesh, digging, searching.

when the wind blows

Zzzzaaaaazzzaaaap a cough of darkness.

the cradle will rock

Something is shifting, changing. Her arms elongate, thinning, a yellow foot hooks over the edge of the tub.

The door handle rattles. “Ava? You in there?”

Patrick? What’s he doing here? His flight gets back tomorrow.

Zzzzzaaaazzzzzz a chaotic symphony of shadows dance gleefully along the walls.

Mama perches on the edge of the tub, all elbows, knees, and bony edges, like she swallowed a bag of hammers. Emaciated skin sucked around jagged ribs.

I wonder why he doesn’t come in. I don’t remember locking the door.

when the bough breaks

Her eyes are gone. Just a white sloping emptiness distending from straggling ropes of hair down to a pocked nose. The cheeks pull into something resembling a grin. Part of her bottom jaw is gone.

“Ava, who are you talking to? Who’s in there?!” The rugged mahogany groans as he throws a shoulder into it. “OPEN THE DOOR! AVA!”

Mama turns and scuttles up the wall, her wet, hacking voice splattering around me.

the cradle will fall

I can’t pull my eyes away, fascinated by the ripples of her distended spine protruding through her back. Bony shoulder blades squirm and jerk.

ZZZZZZZZAAAAAAAAAAAA POP the light goes out leaving me with one last glimpse of her body splayed across the ceiling above me, small but impossibly large, her head rotating, black hair falling around a sightless face.

and down will come baby

BOOM!

“AVA!”

BOOOM!

“BABY! PLEASE! AVAAAAAA!!”

I reach up in the darkness, “MAMA! DON’T LEAVE ME AGAIN! DON’T LEAVE ME!”

cradle and all.

CRAAAAACKKK! The door splinters open, a beam of light catching Mama’s form as she launches herself toward me, all disjointed arms, knobby legs, hooked fingers.

“AVAAAA! NOOOO!”

And then I am awash in fire and blackness and rushing water. Patrick diving, reaching, but he’s late. He’s too late.

Mama takes me.

Down, down into wet, shiny nothingness.