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The Anniversary
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This is a true story.

She was born: clinging, wrinkled, kicking and screaming;
 1
wailing at the bright lights and sterile, latex hands.
 2
Her first breath was of recycled hospital air,
 3
her infant lungs starting the marathon of life. It was her first cry for attention.
 4
 
 
She squirmed, wiggled and grew, aged, ripened.
 5
For a while, if she asked, it was given. She learned to need,
 6
she learned to take, and she learned to want.
 7
And like most people, she wanted what she couldn’t have.
 8
It wasn’t a thing you could hold or touch or feel.
 9
It wasn’t even actually a thing, but she didn’t know this.
 10
She never learned that you can’t taste or smell an idea.
 11
 
 
She wanted the world.
 12
 
 
She wanted all the world and all its love on a plate
 13
cut into dainty, perfect pieces that she could chew and spit and swallow.
 14
She would look Hunger in it’s awful eyes
 15
and lick her lips because she knew
 16
that someone was providing for her.
 17
She was told that she could have anything she wanted while she grew up.
 18
She didn’t have to worry about day to day sadness or anxiety or jealousy.
 19
No one thought to take the time to teach her to cope.
 20
No one taught her to be healthy.
 21
Love and health and wealth would just appear
 22
and pave a path to the bank and the cradle.
 23
The world would be hers.
 24
 
 
If only she could be free of the tyranny of mother-daughter bondage
 25
that gave her everything except what she wanted.
 26
She knew she could have children and love and money
 27
and be an adult with the extra-long, sexy, extra-light cigarettes.
 28
She could grow up faster than the rest,
 29
because she knew she was smarter than the rest.
 30
She could do anything with her hands- pencil, paint, hair, and nails.
 31
She would provide and she would thrive; as long as she got away.
 32
So she married and she babied.
 33
She married and she babied
 34
and she married
 35
and she babied.
 36
 
 
This was not the world.
 37
 
 
Years became needy, greedy children
 38
and debts became necessary, bitter divorces.
 39
Put enough miles between one mortgage and another
 40
and you don’t have to think about the latter.
 41
A new husband, a new state, a new job, a new life.
 42
She could start over. It was okay, normal, expected.
 43
No one told her life was easy, but clearly,
 44
she knew it was only a matter of time and patience
 45
and maybe, just maybe, a teeny, weeny bit of effort.
 46
Though It wouldn’t be a problem because she knew she was smart.
 47
She could memorize a thousand different words
 48
and recite them front and backwards and in the middle.
 49
That was her gift. Rote learning and memorization.
 50
Repeating and repeating and parroting.
 51
 
 
She wanted the world and all it’s magic material.
 52
She knew she wanted a beautiful bed to sleep in, and a wardrobe that was modern.
 53
Though she had already lost her credit
 54
through a decade of sectional couches,
 55
door to door vacuums, brand new houses,
 56
breast implants, and laser eye surgery
 57
back surgery and wrist surgery
 58
ear surgery, hand surgery, foot surgery.
 59
 
 
Then came the pills.
 60
The pills and the books and the movies
 61
and the bras and the shoes and the purses.
 62
They came on credit. The children’s credit.
 63
She had all those social security numbers memorized and then some.
 64
She used everyone’s names and numbers,
 65
and tax returns and credit cards.
 66
She made cocktails and she took them so she could relax.
 67
A healthy dose of Valium, Ambien, Lorazepam,
 68
Diazepam, Clonazepam, Alprazolam,
 69
Xanax, Codeine, Ativan, Morphine.
 70
So she could forget on command and sleep on demand.
 71
She wanted what she couldn’t have.
 72
What she couldn’t buy or steal or forge.
 73
 
 
It was a lesson that she never learned:
 74
Happiness isn’t husbands or houses.
 75
Happiness isn’t marriage and money.
 76
She never learned the secret is happiness you have to work for.
 77
So all the pills and the dollars and the credit she stole, took, borrowed… did nothing.
 78
 
 
She was always hungry, never satisfied.
 79
She never memorized how
 80
being an emotionally healthy adult was the key to happiness.
 81
She just took and lied
 82
and hoped against hope
 83
that nobody would find out.
 84
But they kept finding out.
 85
She kept getting caught,
 86
hand in the cookie jar,
 87
punished once, punished twice,
 88
a face of denial always spewing words of embarrassment
 89
and calculated misinformation, lies telling lies.
 90
 
 
She told all of us she was on track
 91
with a perfect grade point average,
 92
the top of her class,
 93
memorizing ever memorizing
 94
lessons, words, numbers, and instructions.
 95
She was making something of herself.
 96
She said that she was going to start over
 97
and finally be where she should have been all those years ago.
 98
She said it was the drugs fault.
 99
The diseases and the drugs and the addictions.
 100
She never said it was her choice
 101
whether misguided or ignorant or manically sociopathic criminal whims.
 102
She didn’t understand that she was still responsible for herself indefinitely.
 103
She never did. She thought someone else would make it work, make it better, make it okay.
 104
She didn’t understand how marriage or children or drugs or money or clothes couldn’t save her.
 105
 
 
But she understood that she could make it all go away.
 106
She knew she could make everything easy breezy.
 107
She knew that if she were to lie down
 108
in the backseat of the idling car she couldn’t afford,
 109
boxed in the garage of the house she hated,
 110
she would only have to wait a little while longer.
 111
 
 
She knew that if she crushed enough pills
 112
and drank enough mixtures of enough narcotics
 113
that she wouldn’t even have to wait.
 114
She would just fall asleep and it would be as if no time passed at all.
 115
She didn’t take into account that time would continue to pass even when she was finished.
 116
 
 
She didn’t know that the engine of an idling car
 117
would get so hot that even the parts in the floor of the backseat
 118
would burn into her cool, pale flesh.
 119
She didn’t think that maybe the indifferent carbon monoxides
 120
would leak their itsy bitsy selves into all the other atmospheres
 121
and furthest corners of the house
 122
where the dogs were instinctively retreating, choking.
 123
She didn’t realize that townhouses are really all one building,
 124
even if they have different addresses.
 125
She didn’t pause to ponder that the exhaust
 126
could move from garage to house to neighbor.
 127
She didn’t stop to consider the fragile lungs
 128
of all the other animals around her- children, dogs, people, pets.
 129
 
 
She didn’t think of anyone but herself;
 130
how she was at the bottom of it all.
 131
She only thought of how life had always teased;
 132
held in front of her a mystery to lust for.
 133
She thought how she didn’t even know what life was;
 134
how she only ever hurt people
 135
and stole from them and how those very people would lock her away,
 136
and what they must think of her.
 137
 
 
She thought of all the sadness and anxiety and misery
 138
that she didn’t need to when she was younger.
 139
Now she didn’t have room for anything else
 140
and it filled all of her lonely thoughts in the end.
 141
 
 
She thought of only one person;
 142
herself, a needy greedy child with no one to teach her.
 143
She thought as she laid back:
 144
 
 
Everything will be alright.
 145

11 Sep 14


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