. my mother keeps me awake . excerpt from green things rising, a novel in progress .
my mother is what keeps me awake, keeps me lying achy in bed, keeps my neck stiff and too painful to bend, unable to crack. my mother who haunts me in the dreams, who becomes the scorpions, are winged and flying insects, biting at my ankles, nipping at my ankle, a million fragments colliding against my face, wanting so badly for me to suffocate.
a million tiny mothers. she is everywhere, she lies over me. a million racing thoughts and I never do go to sleep.
the race of my pen, my only mantra.
a million ghosts of mother, of mutti, and her face in all my bedfellows, faces, after her. all the faces, all the ghosts, so that I cannot embrace the one who lies beside me, so that momentarily, I am convinced the one beside me is contagious, that he is like the others, that he wants me a cinderella, that he wants me a little clay pot not yet fired, so he can add and subtract his delicate finishing touches.
after all my cries, my silent screams, my outbursts and subsequent profuse apologies, he has suppressed his ongoing need for perfection, for his need of control. he's loosened the reign on the order in his world, on his very personality and tendencies, for me.
he wants to change me like the rest.
but where has it all begun?
she is at a kitchen table. she is hugging me. if she hugs me, it is in reconciliation and she is forcing me to eat her words, to make her nauseous words palatable, to make me agree. her every touch is a compromise. I cannot win love unless I agree, I cannot win a part of myself unless I deny whole chunks.
finally, she has become my forest. deep, deep in my forest, to a place I never go, I stashed my mother. and with her, Raphael. and with him, John. and Blake. and Keith and Kane. all the ones to breathe cruel words, all the ones I was sure was a viking, a warrior, a killer in the past, for they had cut me and my love so mercilessly, divied me up for all.
he lies there, half awake because I can't sleep. he is curt with me now, if I talk to him because the hours between now and his job are few and desperate. he says he works for me, he cooks for me, he cleans for me. he embraces me when I don't have the strength to return it. he loves me, devotes himself to me, in the way I have given up for myself, in the way decreed banished, in the way I convinced myself, would only cause me more sorrow.
I've convinced myself I can never love again. sometimes I love in glimpses. like a sweet breath, a murmur of breeze steals me in its moment. my eyes become open and child-like, while his eyes glaze over, in a fit of distance. he is as afraid to be loved as I am to love.
so we dance a dance and he cries that I don't embrace him, that I don't curl my body around his, as he does mine, that I hardly touch him, that I would gladly leave him.
last night, he pried the grey sweatpants off my hips to kiss my flaccid, pale skin as they bounced back, him on one knee, tenderly kissing my death-white skin. like a spouting teakettle, I growl and twist away in agitation.
I reach deep down into the
forest I never go, a magician, I pull my mother by the ears, all the memories
of her, like a rabbit out of hat. all too long I have been avoiding her. I put
my face down when she looms too close, I laugh her, her cruelty off. I'm convinced
I don't care, I talked myself into giving up. with my mother, my father, the
shades of boyfriends past, I am inert. My careful, encompassing eye I gouge
out - I am blind to every memory. all faces are fuzzy, faces I hardly remember.
all ended the same, a pulling away. them pulling away from me, in disgust, in
disapproval, my desperate clinging to what was, to my more desperate love. my
banshee cries to be loved by them. and yet each shade of the past finds their
way back, one time, to weave threads once more, but, by then, I have my mothersŐ
lip. I am stiff, I am proud, and I never take them back.
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