(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
(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.