Memoir – Part 1

I used to think my story was a chronology. A timeline I could mark off into sections and condense such that my whole life could be recanted in a single therapy session. But that taming of my story was just an illusion. These kinds of stories almost always and inevitably discover that they are not timid, that they are not made of sugar or snips and snails but of sinew and jagged teeth and talons.

So I woke up one day with my rib cage ripped wide open. That’s when my edges became blurred and beginnings melded into endings. That’s when middle things stretched themselves out so far, they engulfed everything, and then spit out only fragments and all in the wrong order. That’s how I ended up in sterile rooms with police officers guarding me.

That is how, when my mind finally broke my body, I ended up alone. No one knew what to do with you, they said.

My first mother didn’t know what to do with me. She was too poor to feed me, she couldn’t even use me to mark off time with milestones: first words, first steps. By the age of two, not a single word had fallen out of my mouth and my legs were dead twigs that could only be dragged around. She ended up carrying me into the city, sat me on the curbside and told me to stay, as if was an obedient dog. As if I had legs that could have taken me anywhere. Eighteen months later, my second mother grew legs for me, but then told me to go.

This was my first lesson on how bodies were things that could accommodate the wishes of others. No legs for the mother who wanted me to stay, legs for the mother who wanted me to go.

I also learned that sometimes the actions of our bodies are illusions. Legs can look like they’re walking even if you’re still crawling inside. Legs that are running don’t necessarily mean they are taking you anywhere.


I finally thought to use writing to reach you, but I’ve waited too long. I’ve exhausted all my consonants and now my vowels have nothing to tether them together.

What can be said with words that have no mass, that occupy no space? They are weightless, useless things that can no longer caress, pull in or reach. No matter.

There’s nothing to be said about the sound of closing doors and yesterdays anyway. In this case, this single lower case “o” suffices, this floating away of a sigh.


Be still.


That sigh of the wind, that rustling of the leaves and branches, that pitter-patter on the window pane, that rumble of the earth in the moments before a thunderclap – it is the earth telling us a story.

The one about all our sorrows – the ones we’ve pressed between the pages of dusty books, the ones we have painted blue so we could pretend they were sky. The ones we locked in rooms with boarded up windows.

The ones that have become so brittle they are now as weightless as spun sugar. The ones we trapped in music boxes with all the broken ballerinas. And the ones we buried long ago that have

taken root and branched. It is the story of all those sorrows and how they are being stitched together into tapestry, while the wind whispers hush, hush and water droplets kiss our foreheads through window panes,

and the earth’s shoulders shake uncontrollably because she is weeping for you.

For you.

Biography of Two Hands

Biography of your hands:

beckoning clapping,

adoring tickling inquisitive examining exploring testing,

hungry petting cupping manipulating fumbling gripping pulling,

clamping controlling striking possessing furtive probing,

thrusting tearing.

Biography of mine:

bared clenched,

shaking crawling pounding punching wringing weary,

wandering searching reaching calming patient ardent embracing,

glorifying rejoicing,



Sounds have gathered themselves along the precipice; have staged themselves single file like a curious army of items discordant and thin – the chirp of crickets, the hum of electric, the swish and sway of tops of trees and saplings and shrub, and breath – every exhale meager in meter and measure. Every sound motionless and flat, like dominos that don’t face one another but instead peer outward towards that inky-grey color

of silhouettes in winter. Actually, no. They didn’t gather themselves. They were crowded out. By a memory, a misplaced image that came tumbling in like water – plunging, striking and raging, shocking, parting and raving – like a swarm

of long abandoned lovers, thick and mobile and ravenous, that washed up against me over and over until my insides became the color of sun-bleached bones.

I watched them fall, all those sounds, all at once, toppled over in some bizarre synchronized suicide. Or maybe it was

the memory that pushed them over, having staked claim that only this exists.

Only this. Only this.

Tidying the bathroom at 2 a.m.

My fingers twirl the sink to gather

Hairs that have lost their head

Into a swirl and a swirling

Bending each strand back to itself

To bend another into its own

Then bend myself into a stoop

To gather into my arms

Shirts that have lost their arms

And socks that have lost ankles and toes

And together we find ourselves a heap

In which to crumple

Into a swirl and a swirling

Six Steel Strings

on wood have stilled

since all the songs have fallen to drunken slumber.

In their place, a fountain of silence

springs forth; a bouquet of silver,

each melodic memory

a glimmering strand of hair.

Lit by moonlight, this her halo;

her eyes, wilted jasmine petals;

her mouth, a never blooming peony bud.

Not Wanting Anything

Is it because

you think you are a slave?

Do you think you are not worthy to want?

I think I would have liked you more

if you had wanted

something unattainable.

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