Just for the record, I did not send the flowers.
So I did not need thanking,
not that I was thanked.
I was, instead, served
in my judgment—
I find him guilty—
All his fault
from my crooked teeth with the gaping cavities that
caused such exquisite pain and kept me awake
to my crooked psyche with the yawning chasm
hungry for love.
All the unfilled spaces
found their fill in questionable places.
My friend Gordon says I am suspicious.
And true, that, because it was my inheritance.
I came for a hug and was lifted by my head,
feet dangling, ears burning.
I was taken for a ride and left in the car
to cower from the sight of the drunks that
cruised the parking lot.
Once, at a Sunday School swim party
(my only one, I never learned how as a child)
he came to get me early.
Still damp, shaking and chilled,
clutching a hastily-assembled hamburger taken too-soon from the grill,
he drove me drunk.
Bobby trying to reason—
stay for a while she just got here you've been drinking have a hamburger you don’t want to run off the road and hurt her.
He killed her a thousand times, one insult hardly distinguishable from the rest.
A four-year-old made to sit on his lap on the return trip from the beer joint.
(I hear you gasp.)
And from my perch and the safety of Daddy's embrace he made me,
(Hold your breath.)
he made me, he made me
steer the car.
(Oh, you thought he did other things, those things.)
No, father didn't diddle the little girl who was me.
He never spent enough moments strung together caring
or noticing me one way or the other to think of me that way.
But his lack of care put me in that other house
where that other relative was happy to oblige.
So, in a way, he did fuck me, right good.
My friend, Gordon, says I am blunt.
You got that right!
Secrets have never been family friendly.
Half-truths are deadly.
I learned early to read a face or a gesture.
What was never uttered was always the loudest sound.
Miss a cue and find yourself banished by your grandmother,
and by extension, from the joy that is Granddaddy.
Ask the wrong question and find yourself sleeping in your own bed
right beside your sister, who is no help when you try to talk about
the screaming in the living room and the screaming in your head.
My friend, Gordon, says I am competitive.
I learned racing at an early age.
bullets popping, lightning cracking.
rain-soaked, mud sucking at my feet.
hide out in the church building.
climb high in the big oak tree.
crouch down between the cotton rows.
attic, crawl-space, gullies, any place.
Win the race to disappear.
My friend, Gordon, says I am rough around the edges.
Not so. Ragged more like it.
hand-me down ragged,
food left over from another family's supper ragged,
tired, I just want a safe place to cry ragged.
Holes worn into my soul,
tears in fabric of my childhood.
This is my inheritance from Daddy.
Not sixteen thousand dollars and an old Ford truck that I didn't want
and didn't ask for
and was defaulted from me by
the woman who thought I sent the flowers
and used the excuse of a thank you to get my address
from my mother, (who did send the flowers and signed my name without my knowledge)
and had me served with papers.
Those things were never my inheritance.
I already have possession of all
he left me.
16-20 Sep 2003 Dedicated to those with unfilled spaces.