When she was three,
she used to dream
of a pair of
large, masculine hands
throwing her into the air
she couldn't breath,
grasping & clutching
for little puffs,
hacking and sucking
like a dog
hanging himself on his own leash,
trying too hard,
impatient to get where he's going
or away from whence he came;
that when she fell
she'd land on cotton candy clouds,
big buffers to blanket her
from the slap of skin
smacking her bare, baby back
should she plummet
back into callused palms
that so carelessly tossed her away
to begin with.
This was her happy dream,
and she'd wake
in the morning,
with tiny tributaries of salt and dirt,
eyes puffy like the cotton candy clouds.
She'd thud out of bed
in her footed pajamas
tentatively toddling down the hall
to the big empty kitchen
to be given her half-empty glass of spilt milk.
She'd listen and watch silently from the corner
to that morning's edition of
"Baby Alma's Broken Home."
When she was five,
she used to walk
on perfect feet
through a school of
empty halls with
covered in paintings of
mothers and fathers & dogs,
and sisters and brothers & gods.
A mirage of slop that she couldn't draw,
even out of the depths of her wildest imagination
should she dig and claw her way
until her thoughts were bloody
from trying and crying
and wanting to die;
closing in on her tiny frame
dawdling to the principal's office.
Caught kissing the boys in the closet again;
caught showing them the flowers
under her little skirt when she swished
back and forth.
Still swishing back and forth,
practicing her dimpled smile,
hiding the fear
in the deep, dark pools of her shadow.
She'd sit on the stiff, proper bench
twitching and fidgeting,
glowering at the gigantic portal leading to
wooden rulers, leather belts
and callused palms.
Here, she learned "Never turn your back."
Here the tiny tributaries
became raging waters
trapped behind dams of pride, so strong
nothing would escape that might reveal
the memories of a nightmare
born from a waking terror
developing behind the beautiful eyes of Alma.
When she was ten,
she used to read
the "nasty" books
hidden behind the Bible
on her mother's bedstand.
following fingers undercover.
Whispering words aloud;
closing eyes to picture bodies.
Forbidden fruit that tastes of danger,
words of passion, hands of steel,
churning wheels that starve for more.
Eager to know the noises
coming through the walls;
eager to know the mystery behind her mother's door.
quickly going out, turning on the dark.
Pausing to listen for footsteps
stopping outside her bedroom door.
"Playing possum" as she drips with sweat;
hands playing as she's dripping wet.
Waiting for doors to crack and hands to smack
to end the passion and the fear.
The tears roll down as the pages tear;
swollen eye hurts less than the words she hears.
And as the door closes, a lock goes "Click."
Staring at the clock , second hand going round
faster and louder, "tick, tick, tick."
She closes her eyes and tries to imagine
a box painted white
with a single bright light in the middle
and a soft fluffy pillow where she can sleep.
No windows, no doors, no fathers, no whores.
No noises to follow. No mind to ignore,
only silence that beckons away from the war.
As she falls into a restless sleep,
the images from words she's read
form in her little mind like jigsaws
with missing pieces she can't find.
When she was thirteen,
she used to dream
of a pair of
large masculine hands
tracing the outline of
her body --
blossoming and bursting like
wild flowers in the spring
running rampant across the hills.
Understanding only what, not why
she does what she does
with a twist of her hips and lips
as the men would fall and kiss her toes,
throwing vows and oaths
into the outstretched arms of
her body --
sneaking from her room at night,
a cavern filled only with monsters
under the bed, in the closet, behind the door.
Escaping the nightmare of the lonely
into the embrace of the only thing
that could make the emptiness full
and put a spark behind the gloss
of the cold eyes that were so willing
to give up all her craving legs could offer.
And they'd come in truckloads
outside her bedroom window
with it's neon signs glaring garishly,
with fingers crossed and jeering laughs.
Beckoning to Alma
to climb down her trellis, feet first,
swishing her skirts so that all below
could look up in awe at her over-ripe rose
with developing thorns she could not yet feel.
Unlike their overeager thorns
lined up all in a row
to push and poke and pain
and erase the void eating her brain
until numbness settled in so she could sleep.
When she was seventeen,
a magazines dream
with two orbs
of deep blue
revealing nothing, ready for the
Graduating with honors, mind on display.
Useless knowledge she'd gladly throw away.
Flashing her smile to the teachers behind
who look down on the waste;
Lifting her skirt to the boys in front
who stare up at the weeds.
Goods no longer worth their market value
in a town of soap box preachers
& unforgiving Tinfoil crosses.
with a clean slate.
Away from the Phantoms;
away from the Wild Things.
Erasing the nightmares scribbled in her heart.
Burning the pages of her history to forget.
Reaching out to the maternal walls
of feminine nurturing
and the unemotional world of B.A., "b.s." and Ph.D.,
to quench a numbness from years of draining tears.
But from the closet, sex outpoured.
Pulling her in with promises of salvation
from the gentle "Second sex" --
A different key to unlock the door.
Giving her escape from the black box
into the distant light.
So she landed in arms and wove her charms,
using her body to fill
that craving emptiness within.
But the coldness never thawed.
She fled into the darkness of the streets, shivering.
Pushing aside cobwebs to find the one
who reminded her of all the demons
rolled into one large Savior.
They found her at nineteen
dumped in the garbage,
eyes almost fixed,
clothes tattered and torn,
words in paint above:
"You're a slut."
Flaunting a body so perfectly evolved.
Baring your curves, scantily draped.
Taunting the world with airborne kisses.
Who would notice if I ate your clothes?
Who would believe if you screamed the word?
Where could you go in a room with no doors?
Your pride was gone, your legs were spread;
your eyes were closed tight
ignoring that I was coming.
"You're a slut."
Crying about lost youth, love you never had;
denying the pretense you profess
Why'd you come if not for this?
Your tongue in his ear, I watched you from afar.
You wanted him, you caressed him, you mauled him,
but when he pushed you away you wandered
in search of someone else.
I offered that treasure and you pushed away,
but I found you, I gave it to you, just like you wanted.
They took her away,
masks and tubes run through her.
Calling the next of kin; got only a machine --
left a message at the beep:
In a room pure and white,
she would stare straight up
at the single white light,
head resting on a sterile pillow.
Needles stuck in her unnaturally,
looking pale and thin.
Her body, mind and heart overflowing
with the nightmares no longer held back.
Her bed wet with tears, sweat and despair.
No one was there when she closed her eyes.
No one was there when the voices began.
No one was there when she whispered "Alma."
No one was there.