poems on childhood

Watering the Plant

My father hit me only once
in a rage across my leg
drawing a hand printed stain
puffy and red on my skin

In the dark room
where my sister and I slept
while my parents fought
their endless fight
my sister said shut up
I can’t sleep with you crying

I awoke in the blackness
my father sitting on the edge
of my bed, crying, fully
dressed for work as the early
morning light etched his shadow

I awoke to my father crying
looking at his daughter asleep
fearing the fragile part of him
that could bruise so easily
and had so much growing to do.

*

rushing to the side of my mother’s bed

when I was nine years old
and frightened
of the dark
of long dreamless sleep,
I would sit up in bed
eyes open wide
trying to see through
the blackness
as my heart pounded so loud
I wanted to scream
any sound to make sure I was still
alive

these nights I would go to her
wake her with the knowledge
that I was going to die
and she would turn to me, in her
half-asleep voice, she would
talk to me, and tell me stories
until I felt well enough
to face the darkness again

when I got older
I stopped myself from rushing
to the side of my mother’s bed
and learned to face the darkness
alone
but still
I find her voice inside me
her tone rising and falling
like the ocean tide, calming
my tumultuous soul.

*

Defining Home

Defining home
when I was a child and tried
to sleep under the stars in rockaway
beach, the surf rolling in like thunder
wondering if it would
wash me away while I slept
the bars on the boardwalk were noisy
into the night, music and voices
drowning in the distance

At first light, the sand machines
advanced and we woke, scrambling
in the early soberness of morning
we went somewhere, either to my mother’s
boyfriend’s apartment or his sister’s
house, left alone to watch television
with her scarred and angry son

I wanted to go home.
I thought home was with my mother
I didn’t like it there, I wanted to be alone
in my room reading or drawing
without this new feeling, a nagging fear
not knowing what would happen next

I no longer place blame.
I look at the turns my life has taken
and I am able to see with preciseness
where things went wrong –
I can’t go back and say Stop.
What you are doing will change me,
the course of my life. I can only
hope to look at my life now and see,
with that same preciseness,
where things went right.

*

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