The Color of Bones

My mother, a bleacher of bloodstained
sheets, bleaches my dreams the color of bones,
and feeds me on snakes and dirty slate stones.

She winces each time I walk through the door,
a mere apparition (though we’ve done this before.)

She blinks at the angles of my newly-formed hips
and her voice sounds strangled through
thin pressed lips.
“He did this because he was stressed at work;
if you turn your head
if you concentrate hard
our skeletons will stay buried in our own backyard.”

Oh! See how dust motes stir in my wake
(and mother just Pledged, for Heaven’s sake!)
Don’t pick at your scabs
Don’t stand pigeon-toed
Don’t ask for answers to questions you’ve no right to know.

O, wicked child so much in the way
Nothing but underfoot night and day.
Can’t you see that your visibility
makes mother suspect her accountability?

But others decide the sting of my fate!
The slant of my head and the tread of my feet—
and mother’s bleaching my blood from her snowy white sheets.

Another fine mess for mother to scour
And look at the time! Another lost hour!
She sends me to scrub my stepdad’s back.
Robotically I do as I’m told:
mother look at me! Obedient am I, as good as gold.

(O see her brow pucker
in matronly frustration;
the very sight of me has ruined
her housewifely concentration.)

I’ve gone far away so far from myself
and live on old bones and the most cunning of stealth.
I’ve perfected the art of tip-toeing on my Flintstoned feet . . .

and mother is bleaching my blood from her snowy-white sheets.

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6 thoughts on “The Color of Bones”

  1. What hurt me the most is that I tried to do everything right and exactly as I was told but it still didn’t make her happy. It sounds as if this was the case in your household as well. You could dance to their tune, jump “this high” if not higher and still fall short of a simple smile of appreciation. We just couldn’t seem to do anything right could we? You know why? Because they weren’t looking for right. They weren’t looking for the good in us. They were not looking at the little girl standing in front of them they simply thought of themselves and their immediate needs. It is a sad thing to carry this still but many carry it with you.

    Austin

  2. I agree with what Austin said. I cry for our little lost children. I’m not doing so hot these days. Going to start a whole new round of trauma processing. Sorry I haven’t been around much. I’m behind on reading your wonderful blog. And your writing is so good, too. Would you consider sugmitting this poem for the Blog Carnival Against Child Abuse? I sent you an e-mail about it, but it bounced back to me. I’m thinking of you, whether you submit to BC or not. If you want, here’s the submission link: http://blogcarnival.com/bc/submit_355.html Take care.

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