Before all else fails, write out your pain.
Write like an avalanche.
Write like a tidal wave.
Pour it out and then work it over.
Include every piece of hurt and humiliation.
Include your loss, your yearning, and your burning disappointment.
Include your sour regret.
Examine it. Scrutinize it. Dissect it. Fine tune it.
Stare at your devastation there on the page. There arranged in neat, clean orderly rows of rawness,
crafted into something at once horrifying and beautiful.
Read it again.
Make sure it includes every bit of flesh, bone and cartilage that it should because you need it to.
Write out your pain before all else fails.
October 29, 2015
I do my best to manage my children’s behavior in public places. I always have. I don’t like disturbing others and would feel uncomfortable when my babies cried around other people. Sometimes I’d go out of the room or leave entirely if I sensed they were not going to settle down. I was sensitive to the comfort of others around me and tried to always be considerate. In fact I rarely took my kids to restaurants. Now when I see parents around me struggling with their kids I either try to help or I am tolerant of their cries and shouts. There are many things I find much harder to tolerate in this world than a noisy child in a public place. I don’t witness major melt-downs very often and when I do, I tolerate it. If things were extremely out of control I would just move to a more quiet place.
I would never leave a nasty note for a parent dealing with that situation. I hear some people complain that parents feel ‘entitled’ somehow just because they have kids. I certainly don’t feel entitled in any way because I am a parent. I never felt that because I was a parent I could do what I liked, or my kids could be disruptive and upset other people and that was acceptable. I can’t connect the notion of entitlement with my experience of being a mother at all. In fact, sometimes it feels like the opposite is true.
I don’t approve of the way everyone parents but I am tolerant in these particular situations. A noisy child is not hurting me or my family, friends or community. It might be annoying … but I tolerate it.
This is what freedom looks like to me.
We share our world. Noisy kids are a part of it. The only way they learn how to be in the world is to be in the world. Parents should work with their young children to learn how to be around people and nine times out of ten, that’s what I see parents do when in public places. Sometimes parents don’t react in the way I would to their children’s behavior, and when that happens … I just tolerate it.
I’m just really grateful that I never received a nasty note from people when my kids were small and I struggled at times to quiet them. It would have been soul destroying for me. I guess on the rare times my kids were unruly in public, people around me were tolerant.
Thank goodness for the kindness of strangers.
October 7, 2015
By Tracy K. Smith, closing lines to “Vaya, Camarón,” in Duende: Poems (Graywolf Press, 2007)
It used to be, you’d open your mouth
and the weather changed.
You’d open your mouth and the sky’d spill that dry,
missing-someone kind of rain,
no matter the season.
And it hurt,
like a guitar hurts under the right hands.
Like a good strong spell.
Now you’re all song.
Body gone to memory.
And guess what?
By Rachel McKibbens, 2010
This house is dirty, but comfortable.
Behind each crooked door
waits the angry weather of a forgiveless child.
I cannot help but admire this horrible
power of mine, how each small thing
can become a death: the lost house key. A spoiled egg.
A howling dog. There is no prayer or pill for this.
It is a ruthless botany; I might as well
be buried in the yard. I have no one to blame.
Not the mother who sang to an empty cradle.
Not the Dog of Spite who bit my hand,
just this long-legged sorrow
who trails my every joy like a dark perfume.
You have my permission not to love me;
I am a cathedral of deadbolts
and I’d rather burn myself down
than change the locks.
By Y.Z, “Put your Weapons Down, and Come Home from War”
It works like this.
They leave, and then wait for
your letters like you’re the one who walked away.
Like you’re the one who
burned down the highways between your houses.
Like you’re the one who scattered the distance
across the train tracks.
They see you again and you’re rebuilding bridges
and your hands are blistered
and there’s a fire on the other side of the bridge
that should tell you to run.
But you don’t run.
You just keep building
because what else is there to do with yourself nowadays?
Baby, I don’t know where you were
when you got your heart broken for the first time,
but I bet you still can’t go back there.
I bet you’re still stuck somewhere else
waiting for someone to meet you halfway,
and no one is showing up.
I know, baby. I know.
He’s a wound that won’t heal,
and you’re so tired of your skin turning
soft and pink for someone
who didn’t stay to see it happen.
I know, baby, I know,
You’re allowed to start your day still in love with his voice.
You’re allowed to miss him like a war you were used to fighting.
You’re allowed to want him to come back like a soldier from battle.
One of these days you’re going to wake up without his
name waiting like a ghost in your bed.
One of these days, you’re going to wake up
and forget that there’s supposed to be someone else next to you.
And you’ll climb back into yourself and wonder why you ever left
such a miracle of a body behind.
By Ramna Safeer
I want you to know
that the day after,
I measured the exact center
of my bedsheets and
slept there and let my body
be the burning house that
craves all my own attention.
I want you to know
that my lungs have relearned
dancing and breathing at the same time
so my feet curl themselves into smiles
on the way to my bus stop in the mornings.
I want you to know that I know what
survival tastes like.
I have too much of my own blood tucked under my tongue to ignore.
This is the ending,
It had to come.
You gently lay your heart on the ground.
It rests there for a while.
You watch over it.
You lift your heart up off the ground and cut out the world.
You do what you have to do
and don’t see the rest.
Look into yourself.
The outside doesn’t exist.
Know that it’s not real. Neither is pain.
He is all the things he tells you not to be.
Let it flow over you.
In and out of you.
It always has to come.
Know that it’s not real. Neither is pain.
February 19, 1991