A friend of mine is going through some rough stuff, bad stuff, with her baby daddy and it's dredging up all this crap in my own heart. This poem's part my experiences, but it's a collage of other women's experiences, too, all of whom have been dear to me, and all of whom have also found themselves wrapped around a man (or several men) who was abusive - either physically, emotionally, mentally.... and, not knowing the real name, we called it love. But it's really a:
MONSTER UNDER THE BED
If my son found the monster under the bed,
Some monsters are hard to kick out
so I let him live here.
On the plus side,
He has a great smile.
And he can cook!
Boy, when he cooks I could eat an army,
but I don’t.
Cause I try to set a good example.
But what I’d know
is that monsters have short term memories.
They can’t remember who punched those
moon craters into the wall.
Or halfway through a sentence, when
it got so loud, so goddamn loud in this house.
Why are you lying there, at the bottom of the stairs,
singing songs to your crimson tide womb.
Why did you make them choke you hit you pull you push you like that.
Who threw that lamp.
They don’t love you.
They love you. More than anything.
Minutes, days, weeks with holes in them.
I wonder how monsters keep track of time this way.
he has all the time in the world anyway.
He hovered there like
A drunk angel
sink through the cement,
my knees so weak,
my heart so heavy.
He was on my back
as I limped outside,
parting a smile through my river of tears,
No matter how far I swam
to drown my thoughts,
throw the things I’ve said the things I’ve done
into the water like farewell ashes,
my monster was the end of the ocean,
calling me closer.
And I can’t get the sound of his choked voice
out of my room.
The sawing of his lips as he begged for forgiveness,
held me tight like his arms could squeeze me into
cried kissed cried kissed
into my granite forehead,
and I broke enough
to let a little of his toxic hope in.
So he lives under the bed.
I don’t want my baby to know.
I hold him close,
closer than a safe boy wants to be held
kiss him more than strong boys want to be kissed,
tuck his feathered head into my chest,
and I never fall asleep before he does.
I curse the monster for being there,
for sinking his teeth into our lives,
for twisting my love into a boomerang bullet,
And I watch my son drift to dreams in my arms
as he should be.
as his mother could be.
if only she
could let him go.