I watched the world finding often and everywhere,
sorrow, anger, cruelty, grief and pain,
though I as yet knew no such names as these.
Only disturbances, like stormy days,
Frightening, almost personal, unknown.
In the early days of second grade
I felt my teacher seemed unwell
and told her so and asked her why.
I rose from the floor, lifted,
one of her hands twined in my hair,
struck dumb by shock.
I talked to my parents who made no response
as if I was a skip in a record our antique Victrola played;
something essential to ignore if harmony is to remain unbroken.
My shock, unheard, that someone wanted to hurt me at all
on purpose, was then yet harder to grasp.
Later days brought a smile on the face of a, somehow, victor.
Why, of what, for what, why choose me, and
how is it possibly good to you to paint my pain on my face,
smiling then, as if to teach me to understand
only the strongest were artistic enough to do that.
I tried disgust with myself,
too weak, to ugly, unruly hair, skinny legs,
you know the endless ways to distort your reflection
as if it explained, or justified everything
yet still leave hope that this could change.
Trying to find and heal my invisible offense,
seeming so much less frightening than discovering
how much more they reflected the world than any like I.
They were always there, returning,
as I moved outward from my beginning,
searching, casting careful glances
like the pebbles I threw into water,
watching the surfaces searching
the farthest ripples of impact,
Who had the answer, or the strength,
to talk with me about these things?
The principle: Running from his office,
Screaming; “you can’t talk to me this way, I’m not your father”,
when I asked for help, dealing with a teacher,
who asked me to touch him, to hurt him, unsure
when I could not comply nor understand .
I felt the sickness’ twisted ways but had no help to offer.
To soften, what was by absence or incapacitation,
the dying strangled cry of another
or perhaps two fathers lost.
It was years before I understood why he ran while I remained,
the temporary occupant of his office,
somehow, the only principal available.
I spent my time waiting for answers,
singing to the sky while walking empty streets at 3am.
Hoping for an answer from whatever might hear me.
My persistent, heartfelt, endless song
soothing anguish into new hope by starlight and solitude.
Later, there was an answer, beautiful,
years long, beyond words or telling.
Before I found a killer hiding within me.
So terrifying in outrage that no one withstood him.
I was disappointed to find my courage comprised only
of outrage so complete that fears no found room within me.
None ever learned he would not harm or kill.
Knowing how impossible it was, that violence would unmake me,
that any pain I brought could only be, first and most painfully my own,
striking at the center of, the very thing that I was born to be.
Somehow certain to take from me, what no others violence could.
Even my angry words demanded to be spoken, from grief,
in vulnerability, without pride or shame.
Such is the cost, and reward of power.
The answer stretched and stretches on,
A thousand thousand pages long.
But this is far enough to go today.
Your gift from me besides hope
Something that my heart spoke to me.
“Whose heart is this so tender and so true,
that it can be broken and being broken love,
the love that made it’s breaking possible, perhaps essential,
finding finally joy and beauty enough in its own tenderness
and, in laughing tears the strength for so many tomorrows.