Unravelling and weaving, sometimes simultaneously


When I was little
she was a demigoddess
the breast I fed from
the teacher
the healer of skinned knees
with kisses and songs

When she broke
I didn’t understand
what breaking meant
but I learned
that it meant
pieces scatter
and take people with them
that it meant
lines are drawn
sides taken
and if you don’t choose
your choice is taken

even if you choose
you don’t get
what you wanted

I was the only one there
so she projected
every bit of everything
upon me

all her fears
became mine
by default

I did not own them
but forced into
the indentured servitude
of blood and proximity
I carried them
heavy and foreign
around my neck
her millstone
she was too weak
to bear

He told me that
she needed me
and she did

she needed someone
to hold all the things
she didn’t have room for
as she flew apart

she needed someone
to stand guard at the door
while she disintegrated
curled into a ball
salting the earth
I struggled to grow in

she needed someone
who would never leave her
and ultimately
I was the one
who never did

with the baggage
of years between us
I reached over it
and held her hand
wiped her face
changed the channel
told her stories
as if
she were
my child
of the other way

The morning they called
I knew when the phone rang
because I could feel it

the layers of her
overlaying me
slid away
as gently as her hands
had been
when things were
innocent and good
and no one took sides
or looked into someone else’s eyes
and said

You never loved me

(c) RCGA 2015

Mattie Belle 1931-2010

A little note… she was named for her grandmother, who was known by her nickname, but the name on her birth certificate was Amanda, a name that means “worthy of being loved”. She always wished that had been her name; perhaps she never understood that she was not only worthy, but always loved.


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