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Poetry is just the evidence of life. If your life is burning well, poetry is just the ash. Leonard Cohen

Monday, December 24, 2012

Baby Girl



Baby girl,
the black dog is at your heels
I can see it so clearly
The more you run,
the bigger it gets

I know you want to hide
but it will find you
The cur has followed our family down
Generations
Some have heard only its growl in the distance
Others have been devoured whole,
their bones spit on the ground
as a warning

You must face the dark, baby girl
Though your pulse thumps
Thumps thumps
like a rabbit heart
and your muscles are spring loaded
for flight

I try to take your hand
You swat me away, spitting
“Don’t touch me! You’re not helping!”
The rejection stings
Memories flood me like venom

All the times I couldn’t help you
Like when you emerged from the bay 
covered with jellyfish
Their stringy tentacles stinging and burning 
your beautiful skin
You screamed
Your father and I grabbed and flung
those hurtful creatures from you
but you never trusted the water again
and I felt I had betrayed you

Betrayed you
with my defective DNA 
that makes your eyes ache
and your temples throb with the relentless pounding
Pounding  pounding
Your own brain the enemy
You grow tired of fighting your own body
Why can’t it be easy?
It’s always so damn hard

And now I see you going down
for the third time
You push away 
anyone who gets close enough
to try to help you float
You’re angry
You’re scared
I wish I could just hold you
and make the demons go away, baby girl
The pain vanish
with a band aid and a kiss

I have no magic now
This is all I can offer:
I will face the dark with you
Stare down that mad black dog
that’s barking so loudly
you can barely hear yourself think

Baby girl, I can hear you
I’ve always heard 
even your quietest cry
like a siren in the night
And even though I can’t make your tears stop
I can give you my shoulder 
to cry on.

submitted for Poetry Pantry #129 at Poets United
and Imaginary Garden With Real Toads, Open Link Monday

10 comments:

Kim Nelson said...

My Dear Lola~
This speaks volumes to me. Two of my children were diagnosed with rapid cycling bipolar disorder when they were 17. I have traveled this road for 13 years. It does get easier, because we learn the terrain.
This piece is POWERFUL!

Mary said...

what a very caring poem you have written here. And so vividly. Yes, a shoulder to cry on is something a mother can always offer.

beccagivens said...

Lola -- what a poignant and powerful write!

May the Spirit of Christmas infuse every particle of your life with blessings of joy and peace!! Merry Christmas to you and your loved ones! Thank you for a wonderful year and for being YOU!

Sherry Blue Sky said...

This poem resonates so much with me, Lola. A mother's pain watching her child suffer - especially during the years when they wont let us help them. I love your final stanza the best. I hope you gave this to her. Even when they're pushing us away, they need to know we're there. And it does get easier - once the high school years are over.

Brian Miller said...

goodness...what a moving piece...and as a parent, how hard...being there at times the only way we know how...

i hope for you a very merry holidays, in spite of anything else...smiles.

Laura said...

oh, sometimes that is all we can do...i can relate to the longing to help a child who is beyond a mother's reach...but not the love... I believe that somehow the love seeps in, even when it is not "wanted".

Libby Meador said...

Sometimes we have to retreat into our own pain and face the black dog on our own, but that is easier knowing mother is near.

Kerry O'Connor said...

It is apt to compare the pain of migraine to a black dog - that sense of a shadow companion one has to learn to live with if it will not be driven away. It must be awful to see such a condition passed on to one's child.

Ella said...

Oh, I so feel the pain! Your voice is so vivid and touching in this poem~ Genetics can be a gift and a curse! I hope you together can embrace each other and you will always know and understand~(((hugs)))
Happy Holidays to you n' yours!

myheartslovesongs.com said...

this brought tears to my eyes and a familiar pain to my heart ~ the need to comfort our child never lessens... nor the guilt when we cannot.

she knows you love her and that will always comfort her.

wishing you peace and love and contentment in the new year, Sheri!

dani