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Angela

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I see her.
Wait. . hey. Where’ve the bones in my legs gone?
Don't look at me like that.
Eyebrows furrowed, mouth crooked.
First of all, it's really rude.
Second of all, you know exactly what I'm talking about.
My leg bones are missing.
What else could explain me just
folding down
like that?
Whoever took them must have been quick
because my knees hit the floor hard enough
to give me carpet burn.
Isn’t anyone going to confess?
No?
Oh well.
They'll turn up eventually.
Leg bones usually do.

I hear my grandfather’s voice
“It isn’t supposed to be this way.
Parents shouldn’t see their babies in the ground.
She was my baby.”
And then a pained, whimpering cry
ripped from my own throat.
I didn’t know humans could make noises like that.
Slashing.
Tearing.
Cry.

Memories choose this moment to flicker into existence:
the two of us singing along to Billy Joel
out of tune but still just right.
The sound of her voice.
Her fingers pushing a strand of hair behind my ear.
Tiny little snapshots of fourteen years
when she was mine.
They say that your life flashes before your eyes
when you die.
I’m thinking this is a strange variation of that theory.
Fourteen years is not long enough.
The flickers stop, and I am left with the image
of an old photograph:
My mother as a teenager, sitting alone at the kitchen table
staring out a window
her hair longer than I’ve ever seen it.
Please.
Please God.
Gods.
Goddesses.
Whoever.
Please let me crawl into that photograph.
Let me warn her.
Let me save her.

No, I don’t need to step outside.
I'm comfortable right where I am:
Sitting here, on the floor.
Screaming.
Well, honestly!
If you were going to drag me out here anyway
what was the point of even asking?
I'm sorry, could you repeat that?
It's kind of hard to hear you over all this screaming.
Compose myself.
Sure.
Apparently, everyone has failed to tell you about this
so allow me:
my composure isn’t here anymore.
Hightailed it out of here the second the words
"She’s gone"
escaped my daddy's lips.
I’m not sure where it’s disappeared to
although I like to imagine it's somewhere warm.
Maybe a beach.
I’m sure it’ll be back eventually, though.
Oh! That reminds me!
Have you seen a couple of
disembodied leg bones around here?
It's a funny story, actually:
I walked into this place and
WHAM!
The next thing I knew, I was -
Oh.
We're going back in?
Sure.
I guess I can handle that.

Wow!
Look at the size of that line!
I think I'll go to the back. . .
Skipping people is rude, you know.
Maybe if I stand here long enough
I can convince myself:
I’m in line for the movies
or ice cream
or a famous author’s autograph
or some other pleasantry.
But not this.
I never wanted it to be this.
Oh. . was it sick of me,
to hope for that illusion?
I think strange sometimes.
Twelve people in front of me.
Now nine.
Now four.
Now one.
Hey!
How long have I been standing up?
That is so weird!
I could have sworn my legs were-
Oh.
It's blue.
What she’s wearing.

And it’s then that I begin to wonder.
What dreams could be so sweet
so tempting
that she would choose, instead of life
to force herself into a sleep
from which she cannot stir?
I stare quietly
waiting for an answer.
Her corse only smiles,
and secrets remain.

A voice, from somewhere,
‘She looks like she's sleeping'
Somehow, hearing my thoughts
personified this way
so matter-of-factly,
infuriates me.
Why did someone feel the need to
say it?
Now that I know someone else thinks it,
someone else thinks it’s possible,
and it isn’t just something my grieving mind
invented to pacify itself,
it's highly likely that I'm just going to
stand here.
Waiting for her to wake up.
Her eyes are still beneath their lids
and her chest does not rise
or fall,
as it would in sleep.
But. . maybe.

My shaking fingers brush her interlaced ones.
Oh.
Cold.
Dea-
but I won't say that word!
I won't!
Her fingers were so cold.
There's no way those were the same fingers
that used to hold mine so tightly. .
the first hand I ever held.
Fingers locking with mine
teaching me to walk
crossing the street with me
holding on to me in the cavernous supermarket
to make sure I didn't get lost.
Watching over me.
Then I started. . .
I don't know.
I can't explain the complex processes
a child goes through as they grow up. .
and away.
And the next thing I knew
my fingers were grasping at nothing.
I am ashamed to confess
that I did not search for her hand.
Instead, I pulled mine away,
clutching it to my chest
like a selfish, pig-headed child
with a toy it doesn't want to share.
I watched her flounder in the dark. . .
but I did not reach out to her again.

Wait.
Stop.
Don't you pull me away from her.
Don't you dare.
Great.
Fine.
I was having
a deep, insightful moment of realization
and you're making me leave.
Wait!
Please, just let me go back!
We've only just turned around.
I'll just go back
and hold her hand,
I mean really hold her hand.
She'll feel it, honest!
She'll know it's me,
she'll have to!
Hope jumps to my chest.
I turn to lace my fingers through hers. . .
Oh.
The lid has already been put down.

It hits me very hard, then:
I let go of her too soon again.
Oh, God, Mommy,
please.
Please forgive me.
I meant to hold on
longer this time, I swear it.
I look down at my
stupid, useless, jaded hands,
their fingers still outstretched
in the hopes of one last chance
to get a grip.
What good did you guys think
you were going to do anyway?
I ask them.
You two disgust me.
I know you've got the right
to be a bit angry after the record number of
walls you've been slammed into this morning,
but honestly!
Bringing my hopes up like that
then letting them crash down.
How dare you.
My poor, abused hands
slink into the warm sanctuary of my pockets,
shivering in fear.
I sigh.
I'll have to apologize
for that later.

I approach the closed lid slowly
the light above it
burning the image into my retinas.
When I am as close
as I can physically get to the casket,
I see my reflection.
Hello, self.
You're gazing back at me
from the polished surface of the wood.
Your puffy, red-rimmed
brown eyes bore into mine
from behind your glasses.
A look of awe is on your face,
your trembling lips hang agape
and the color is gone from your cheeks.
Please!
Stop staring at me like that!
What's wrong with you, anyway?

Haven't you ever seen a girl go crazy before?





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This article has 2 comments. Post your own now!

britney sky said...
May 14, 2009 at 2:19 pm
this is really a excellent poem. everytime i read or hear it-i have to choke backthe tears. you have such a talent with words!
 
big slug said...
May 13, 2009 at 10:39 pm
awsome
 
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