blinking, am I like her?
little girl where’s your mommy?
peeled labels on the kitchen floor leading backwards
in my memory, swirled and intermingled, we are one little girl
* * *
She always wanted to do right by me. She took me and left my father,
black eyes and broken ribs.
I left him too years later when I was old enough to understand.
“I’m a good mother,” she slurred in a half intoxicated state. Five years old, six, seven…no change except learning how to accept situations that always ended in tears. Screams. Slumped, self-defeated, on the kitchen floor.
“Your father…” she’d scream at me as if I’d chosen him!
Doors locked, lights off, blinds drawn.
Banging, yelling, swearing.
Tears as he took me away, Tears as she tried to explain. I didn’t want to go; who’d take care of her? Who would take care of me?
I don’t doubt that she loved me, but she hated him. She hated what he had done, hated that she loved him maybe still did, and hated how things had turned out.
My fault? Maybe. Children require certain sacrifices; selfless, selfish, they must be made. Maybe her life could have been more, if only…
“You little bitch. I have given you everything but you don’t appreciate me; you don’t love me; you don’t understand,” she sobs. Confused, I go to her. “I love you mommy.” But it isn’t enough because I don’t. Hand on throat, back against the wall. We struggle. We struggle with each other, against each other and for each other.
What could have been?
* * *
Bleak eyes, haunted, hallow and watching.
Stagnant stare, devoid of emotion. Mechanized through years of elimination.
No, not you – someone else!
Be, or I’ll make you!
Withdrawn, silent. She only watches now.
By Shari Marshall – 2019