Please, Tisha Deutsch, we want some more!

(One of the latest interns I have recruited on casual Friday here at The Towers) Greetings from the corner of Friendship Square! All the leaves are brown. And the sky is gray. But I’m safe and warm. In  the towers that are A Word with you Press here in Moscow. Pleased to say stories continue …

(One of the latest interns I have recruited on casual Friday here at The Towers)
Greetings from the corner of Friendship Square!
All the leaves are brown. And the sky is gray. But I’m safe and warm. In  the towers that are A Word with you Press here in Moscow. Pleased to say stories continue to flutter in like snowflakes, if you catch my drift!  Especially pleased that Tisha Deutsch chose to neglect her children in order to create an entry into The First Annual Peggy Dobbs Write-  of-Passage contest.
 (discussion of spoonerisms at recent literary workshop at The Towers)
In her rush to get this in she also neglected to give it a title!  So my suggestion: when you post your comments, why not start with your suggested title for this piece.
So here is
”                       “
by Tisha Deutsch
“I swear, it’s not too late,” they tell me. But I know they are lying.
Everyone here, all they want to do is help, help, help, picking up the battered pieces and gluing me back together again, fresh and sparkling and clean, presentable. I am their life’s work, their flesh and blood good deed, their generosity unleashed, their noble and pious charity.
If I would only submit to their desires, they could be heroes. I could be rescued. If I would simply overcome, we could smile together, proving ourselves living, breathing illustrations of benevolence in action. If I could be grateful, the world would applaud us. They would be moved to tears by our unity. We would inspire others to achieve greatness like our own.
But I can’t let it happen. Not yet anyway.
Blinded by an unfortunate dose of misguided goodwill they’ll never understand me. They can’t possibly see what I know. I won’t give them what they want.

It’s inescapable. Not one part of my flesh can flee its clutch. It booms deep in my ears, black and hot and fiery. It twists around my neck and trickles down my arms. I live its truth in my finger nails, beneath my toes, on the ground I walk. Like a shadow, it settles behind my eye lids, dark and heavy and wet. It burns hot in my stomach, knotting, churning doubling me over. I lie on the floor and whimper, rock, moan and wail. My whole self throbs with pain.

It’s the ache that envelopes me. I ache for her, my momma, gone. For him, my daddy, deceived. For them, my siblings, unknown. I ache for myself, promoted. I have been plunged headfirst into a life I did not ask for, an existence I did not want. I long for the ones they took from me, those that were mine. I fear the replacements will never fit right. They aren’t my own. I close my eyes and think of home. I feel the empty hole.
I am neither African nor American, black nor white, slave nor free. My skin is too dark, my hair to kinky, my lips too full, my heart too broken for people like them. They don’t suffer. They are clear and certain and firm and carefree. I drift along beside them, trying to go unnoticed, to be the same. Laboring to fit in I lie on a sheet of perpetual grey, moving toward something I can’t fathom, lost somewhere between. I never rest.
I can see it in their eyes. They don’t love me either. I remind them of too much. It hurts to look at me. I am loss and despair. I am unfinished projects that can never be checked off lists. I am difficult and dirty, unwilling and wild, unsettling to the eyes and tiresome to the mind. I am loneliness surrounded by people. I remain in darkness though encompassed by light. I am failure among success. I am stagnant enclosed by progress. I am the voice of poverty, the face of shame, the essence of regret. Reflected in my eyes they see, their help hurts.
They say money can’t buy love and I know it to be true. If it could I would have heaps of unyielding affection for them. It would well up in my soul and bubble over, spilling out, covering the abundance that fills my days with the sticky sweetness of material goodness. They have given me all I could ever need or want. My mind is sharpened. My belly is full. My nights are warm. I run and play and laugh with them. Still, it is not enough. No matter how hard I try to shove it down, the weight of my burden crops up again and again, driving me insatiable. Nothing they give me properly satisfies. None of it lights the darkness. It can’t stop the sorrow from burying me with its relentless stroke. The sunlight comes, but never lasts.
I pour myself out to please, sicken myself to appease, weary myself to conform. There is no way out for me, so I will do my best to be right. Maybe if I try hard enough, I can get them to love me like they do their own.
How I wish I could believe them. I allow my thoughts to break loose, tenuously wandering toward optimism. What if it wasn’t too late for me? What if hope was an actual thing and not just imagined in fairy tales and storybooks? What if I could wash myself pure and show myself worthy and lovable and highly esteemed? What if I could be who they want me to be? Will I have betrayed who I am, who I was born to become? I cry out to my buried mother, to my living father, asking their forgiveness. To survive, to gain any measure of peace, I must become one of them. I am sorry.
I have many decisions before me. Whoever I choose to become, whatever I choose to embrace, I will grow up. One way or another. An Ethiopian princess submerged deep within an American plight. Mine is a story of adoption.

21 comments

  1. Thorn
    Thorn says:

    Literati: My apologies for the confused formatting. I could not seem to correct it. It is important that all entries are sent as a word doc attachment to assure we can post it properly. But such a good story…worth squinting, doncha think?

    • Tisha Jones Deutsch says:

      Sincere apologies for the small font, improper formatting, and lack of title. I tried to warn you, I am long on (loud) children who expect me to provide home education, 3 meals plus a couple snacks, chauffeur duties, reproof, maid services, correction, advice, instruction, and referee duties each and every single day and short on peace and quiet with which to focus my attention. Pretty sure my brain is too scattered for contests like this. But I do like your title, ” ” ! I think it’s quite fitting!!

  2. Parisianne Modert says:

    I was moved by the rapid fire set of emotions like synapses firing one right after another. Here is a machine gun force of focusing in on a definition of self and life which falls outside the narrow description list that many use to slot people. In this fine detail wandering of mind with lyrical phrases we are allowed a distinctive self-proclamation of a young lady determined to be honest to herself and others. She asks us to understand her background, thinking patterns and future aspirations before forming any opinion of her. Very nice meter and use of words Tisha.

  3. FJDagg says:

    As I read this I kept slipping away, envisioning myself at a poetry slam. I could hear this, more than see it on the page; it is so very atmospheric.

  4. Tisha Jones Deutsch says:

    Thank you for your input!! I’m sorry I haven’t left my comments on your stories just yet, I will soon! Much appreciation ~

  5. Michael Stang says:

    This cries, this moans, this takes me with it. This is fantastic! Shakespeare and Ginsberg taking turns with magic from the east. Yes.

  6. Chuck Chuckerson says:

    This was deeply moving. I love how you captured that while it’s wonderful to have your needs met, even that isn’t happiness or wholeness.

  7. lola49 says:

    This was meant to be your daughter’s story and feelings? How old is she? I’m an adoptive mom, as well, and I wouldn’t want to put my children’s feelings to words unless they could do it themselves. I appreciate your efforts, but something about this is leaving me with a weird feeling. You’re seeing her potential thoughts and feelings through your own filter. This isn’t sitting right with me, somehow. No that it matters…

  8. Chris Plunkett says:

    I think this is a great example of a thoughtful storyteller. You may agree, disagree, like, applaud, or disdain the content, but you cannot deny the quality. Her superb writing skills encapsule and fictionalize what the she as the author has internalized. Excellent Tisha!

  9. Possible Title – “Gilded”

    The gilded cage of the Black American.
    Being a Black Woman, I felt what was going on in your story before I actually read the sentence where you clarified it in no uncertain terms in paragraph 7. I think you created a character of your daughter, as any author would (i.e. as you see and understand and filter it).
    And I kinda like your format issues, as it gives the story more visual character, and somehow more weight as well.
    That first paragraph made me think of Katniss Everdeen from the Hunger Games Trilogy. Her decisions were enough to start a revolution, and her prep team from the capitol did all they could to “prettify” it. She, like your “character” is too raw for makeup, and more beautiful for her striking honesty and bravery. I love characters that make me “wanna be like them when I grow up” – even with all her complexity.

    • Tisha Jones Deutsch says:

      Wow, such an apt title suggestion. Thank you. I am so glad for your perspective. It’s one I wish I could fully fathom, for the sake of my daughter, though I know I can never truly understand. Your insight and thoughtful comment means so much to me as I have felt the slightest bit unpleasantly judged for this piece. It caught me off guard as I felt like it was empowering to give voice to the way internationally adopted children in trans racial families might feel. It is a raw and vulnerable state for some of these kids, especially ones like my own who were older when they were adopted so they remember their birth families well. Love the Katniss comparrison too. Also fitting! Again, I humbly thank you.

      • Guest says:

        I was born in Baltimore, MD, and grew up in San Diego, CA. I call myself bi-coastal. Hair is still nappy without a perm, but I feel mixed nonetheless. I feel “put-together” sometimes. My hair alone is a metaphysical premise I deal with daily. And even if I write myself, I can no adequately represent what I represent. So, write it! Tell your story. It may have been through what you thought were her eyes, but it is your story too. It is my story in part. And negative response of any kind is a compliment of honest response (many times, but no not always). Own that part too. It is a crown with it’s own kind of jewel.

        • Tisha Jones Deutsch says:

          You are basically my new favorite person, Tiffany. I want to be your best friend! Ha! I could listen to you talk all day because I need to hear your point of view and learn from you! You’re teaching me stuff. I know, not so eloquent, but true…

  10. Diane Cresswell says:

    Excellent piece of writing. I felt like a ping pong ball running the gamut of emotions that were flying through her mind and you nailed the emotional upheaval that a lot of children have whether they are adopted or children of parents who have divorced and married other partners. Wonderful insight into the fears.

  11. elizabeth sloan says:

    Powerful writing. You had me with “presentable,” you really had me with “I am unfinished projects….” This has a fable like quality, and song patterns. Lyrical and imagistic. I hear Nina Simone singing. The story reaches out to hold us accountable. Lovely and painful.

  12. Stars Fall On My Heart
    Stars Fall On My Heart says:

    I felt myself in her shoes, and I wanted her to run away so badly…free yourself from these hateful people. Gravitate to the ones who love you for what you are <3 Too many kids in the system as it is don't get love…with no guarantee that they'll ever find it. So heartbreaking </3

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