She was born: clinging, wrinkled, kicking and screaming;
wailing at the bright lights and sterile, latex hands.
Her first breath was of recycled hospital air,
her infant lungs starting the marathon of life. It was her first cry for attention.
She squirmed, wiggled and grew, aged, ripened.
For a while, if she asked, it was given. She learned to need,
she learned to take, and she learned to want.
And like most people, she wanted what she couldn’t have.
It wasn’t a thing you could hold or touch or feel.
It wasn’t even actually a thing, but she didn’t know this.
She never learned that you can’t taste or smell an idea.
She wanted the world.
She wanted all the world and all its love on a plate
cut into dainty, perfect pieces that she could chew and spit and swallow.
She would look Hunger in it’s awful eyes
and lick her lips because she knew
that someone was providing for her.
She was told that she could have anything she wanted while she grew up.
She didn’t have to worry about day to day sadness or anxiety or jealousy.
No one thought to take the time to teach her to cope.
No one taught her to be healthy.
Love and health and wealth would just appear
and pave a path to the bank and the cradle.
The world would be hers.
If only she could be free of the tyranny of mother-daughter bondage
that gave her everything except what she wanted.
She knew she could have children and love and money
and be an adult with the extra-long, sexy, extra-light cigarettes.
She could grow up faster than the rest,
because she knew she was smarter than the rest.
She could do anything with her hands- pencil, paint, hair, and nails.
She would provide and she would thrive; as long as she got away.
So she married and she babied.
She married and she babied
and she married
and she babied.
This was not the world.
Years became needy, greedy children
and debts became necessary, bitter divorces.
Put enough miles between one mortgage and another
and you don’t have to think about the latter.
A new husband, a new state, a new job, a new life.
She could start over. It was okay, normal, expected.
No one told her life was easy, but clearly,
she knew it was only a matter of time and patience
and maybe, just maybe, a teeny, weeny bit of effort.
Though It wouldn’t be a problem because she knew she was smart.
She could memorize a thousand different words
and recite them front and backwards and in the middle.
That was her gift. Rote learning and memorization.
Repeating and repeating and parroting.
She wanted the world and all it’s magic material.
She knew she wanted a beautiful bed to sleep in, and a wardrobe that was modern.
Though she had already lost her credit
through a decade of sectional couches,
door to door vacuums, brand new houses,
breast implants, and laser eye surgery
back surgery and wrist surgery
ear surgery, hand surgery, foot surgery.
Then came the pills.
The pills and the books and the movies
and the bras and the shoes and the purses.
They came on credit. The children’s credit.
She had all those social security numbers memorized and then some.
She used everyone’s names and numbers,
and tax returns and credit cards.
She made cocktails and she took them so she could relax.
A healthy dose of Valium, Ambien, Lorazepam,
Diazepam, Clonazepam, Alprazolam,
Xanax, Codeine, Ativan, Morphine.
So she could forget on command and sleep on demand.
She wanted what she couldn’t have.
What she couldn’t buy or steal or forge.
It was a lesson that she never learned:
Happiness isn’t husbands or houses.
Happiness isn’t marriage and money.
She never learned the secret is happiness you have to work for.
So all the pills and the dollars and the credit she stole, took, borrowed… did nothing.
She was always hungry, never satisfied.
She never memorized how
being an emotionally healthy adult was the key to happiness.
She just took and lied
and hoped against hope
that nobody would find out.
But they kept finding out.
She kept getting caught,
hand in the cookie jar,
punished once, punished twice,
a face of denial always spewing words of embarrassment
and calculated misinformation, lies telling lies.
She told all of us she was on track
with a perfect grade point average,
the top of her class,
memorizing ever memorizing
lessons, words, numbers, and instructions.
She was making something of herself.
She said that she was going to start over
and finally be where she should have been all those years ago.
She said it was the drugs fault.
The diseases and the drugs and the addictions.
She never said it was her choice
whether misguided or ignorant or manically sociopathic criminal whims.
She didn’t understand that she was still responsible for herself indefinitely.
She never did. She thought someone else would make it work, make it better, make it okay.
She didn’t understand how marriage or children or drugs or money or clothes couldn’t save her.
But she understood that she could make it all go away.
She knew she could make everything easy breezy.
She knew that if she were to lie down
in the backseat of the idling car she couldn’t afford,
boxed in the garage of the house she hated,
she would only have to wait a little while longer.
She knew that if she crushed enough pills
and drank enough mixtures of enough narcotics
that she wouldn’t even have to wait.
She would just fall asleep and it would be as if no time passed at all.
She didn’t take into account that time would continue to pass even when she was finished.
She didn’t know that the engine of an idling car
would get so hot that even the parts in the floor of the backseat
would burn into her cool, pale flesh.
She didn’t think that maybe the indifferent carbon monoxides
would leak their itsy bitsy selves into all the other atmospheres
and furthest corners of the house
where the dogs were instinctively retreating, choking.
She didn’t realize that townhouses are really all one building,
even if they have different addresses.
She didn’t pause to ponder that the exhaust
could move from garage to house to neighbor.
She didn’t stop to consider the fragile lungs
of all the other animals around her- children, dogs, people, pets.
She didn’t think of anyone but herself;
how she was at the bottom of it all.
She only thought of how life had always teased;
held in front of her a mystery to lust for.
She thought how she didn’t even know what life was;
how she only ever hurt people
and stole from them and how those very people would lock her away,
and what they must think of her.
She thought of all the sadness and anxiety and misery
that she didn’t need to when she was younger.
Now she didn’t have room for anything else
and it filled all of her lonely thoughts in the end.
She thought of only one person;
herself, a needy greedy child with no one to teach her.
She thought as she laid back:
Everything will be alright.