Things You May Not Know

I am the stone that marks the grave of Johnie Armstrong, slain despite promises to rise again. I am the wish closed, the rose that folds in death’s rendering. I am the open palm, the understanding one man asked me to hold. I am closed after unveiling the gift he refused.

I am the ready shovel, the willing labor, the mover of impossible mountains. I gust tornados. I cry floods. I unwrap silver linings in slivers of time so thin they barely ripple in wind. I am purple-black bruised. Burnt orange-brown. I am sometimes tired-with-a-T.

My lining is sheer. I stretch past what is asked to intuit what others yearn. I talk too loud, too long, too often. I am the one to whom Herbert said, “It was nice listening to you.” I am the one to whom Hank said, “Any man you loved would be a lucky man.”

I am debbie the difficult. I am too much desire and not enough satisfaction. I preach possibilities. I dance could-bes and why-nots. I wear a tattoo as a slit on my wrist— and so—to negate Vonnegut’s declarative it is. I am fickle: thoughts flicker like fireflies. I am the brown bat that flaps along the picture window capturing bugs drawn by indoor light. I am many opinions and not enough facts.

I am trillium: delicate-flowered, woody-stemmed. Easily broken, tenderly rooted, I live tri-parted. I am water, and wear others thin. I am transience in a steady state. I twirl my mind to let go of preconceptions disguised as truth. I think if I thought less (a conundrum at best) I would be pleased to live what I live. I am an imposter in thin skin.

I yell in all caps and write in white font, then lose myself without a mark to know where I am. I dream of petals unfurled into Armstrong’s wings. I am stuck, arms flailing in too-deep water, met with glances rather than alarm, as if to say, “How interesting you chose to swim over your head again. How strong and silly you are…”

I am gold filigree in the apple blossom’s center, heavy with pollen, ripe for the bees. I am heady undulations, and waves tripping treetops, branches pricking holes so the light gets in. I swell with irritation, but have lost too much to rage, so I poke and I prod and I bore into white collars of buttoned-up rules. I weary of explaining why assumptions are helpful. I am human, and I hate it: fallible, vulnerable, sanguine, alone.

I am the sometimes-black pennant bolded white with DESPAIR. I am the top deck of the cruise ship unworried about waste. I’m the blind eye where water buffalos are slaughtered. I am the forgetting of stars that hours ago lamp-lit bleeding Syrians. I am denial refusing loss.I am the way children play war (plastic soldiers dying blood-free deaths, resurrecting to re-challenge foes): innocent, creative, filled with faith in heroic acts. I am determined.

I am the dissolution of marriage Alzheimer’s promises to bring. I am my daughter’s depression treated with the right medication, and my son’s brain cyst drained and removed. I am counterbalance to the promises of the United States government that fails to tell my son the consequences of interrogating prisoners on this nation’s behalf. I am the mother of a boy who carries the sex offender label. I am the hurt of children I could not help.

I am a decent rendition of humility and creation. I am ridiculous and delightful. I am shy at the center of groups. I am deep friendships—short or long-lived. I am a smooth bend, the way a convertible corners, strange as the curl of letters on the slick glide of a page. I am a straight shot of Petron chilled over cubed ice and crushed lime, poured in a glass.

I am a mouth full of wasps and bees, trying to learn Mandarin Chinese. I am fierce protector. I am thorn in your side. I know when to stop, but I don’t always manage. I am the right choice every wrong time.

I am the edge of the abyss, the fluff girl for lost leaps, the one not-splayed across the table at Starbucks despite invitation. I am thirteen in pigtails, lost to the rapture of equine muscle. I am regret that a toddler was killed by her mother. I am October 20—the date of her death. I am all the promises I ever made, especially the ones I did not keep.

I am fuck as a holiday and a punctuation mark. I am masked. I am hidden. I am partly revealed. I am peonies blossoming slow motion, waiting in shade for he-who-chooses. I am life in this moment. I am ordinary. I am pedestrian. I am the muse I find in others, and the chagrin that it is not easily within.

I am relational beauty cohabitating with the trouble of integrity. I am love and loss irretrievably entwined. I am every hue of green except eco-activist, which admittedly misses a great spectrum of things. I am protector of bees, and ants, and biting insects. My mouth full of wasps sometimes stings.

I am bossy and indignant because I think I am right, especially and always when I am wrong. I am success with difficult children due to my weaknesses more than my strengths. I am stories my children tell about my failures. I am pancakes served on the unset table, homework torn up in a fit of frustration. I am gifts of lessons each child taught me. I am every shortcoming seen in others. I am grateful for forgiveness and trust.

I am loving too many which cost me too much. I am bad at compartmentalizing (but getting better, a feat that offers little solace or pride.) I am stories and meanings, a world and a wonder. I am the comma that says, “Pause.”

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8 Comments

  1. Wow. Step aside, Faulkner; a little to the left, Woolf — there’s a new master of the stream-of-consciousness. I like the fact that it feels a little unfinished. Life is messy and that’s okay.

  2. Aw, thanks. This is derived from a self-portrait in writing a few years ago. In some places I’m pleased with its cadence. It’s not finished but its as done as I can get it for now. Sometimes writing just has to a snapshot in time rather than a polished piece.

  3. Ah, Deb, this was bliss to read. It was masterfully done and I was enriched by having read it.

    This lyrical prose has all the earmarks of great literature, my friend. Be very proud of this, for it stirs each of us as living human beings and aspiring better beings. Thank you so much for sharing this with us all.

  4. I tried to leave a comment 4 times, earlier today. Wouldn’t accept it.
    Check my post for this week’s theme.

  5. Poetry! I loved it all, but this sentence really struck for me: I think if I thought less (a conundrum at best) I would be pleased to live what I live.

    So much that I saw myself in, too. Which is nice, you know. The kinds of secrets that, it turns out, aren’t that secret because so many of us know exactly what you’re talking about. It only takes sharing to pull them out.

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