the ones we tell each other,
late at night or early in the morning
over coffee & a cigarette,
more than one if it's a story we've told
over and over like chain smoking, like
dirty laundry soaking in the tub, stains
evoking lost memories of teething, cut
lips, blood on the sweatshirt where
you held his head & he bled all over you
& you want to speak about this love
you have for other women who listen
intently, with their own pain showing
& many cigarettes to carry them
through the telling.
a compassionate voice or ear,
the closeness we feel yet cannot say
because we're afraid of a label
but what we really want, I want,
is someone fearless, a weaver of words
or truthteller, someone who's not afraid
of hurting while resetting a bone.
to talk about the helplessness of being
stuck in a house with a sick child,
the boredom that strikes,
the complaining we do, being called martyr
when all I really want is to tell someone
how unfair it is that I'm the only one
they call for in the middle of the night
& it's my ears hear them coughing
at 3 a.m. & I can't just lie there.
how to find out what our own needs are
& how to take care of ourselves,
not just wait for him to come home, take over,
pick up the toys and the pieces, mop up our spills,
how to find a quiet time, time alone,
time to think & write.
our need to be replenished with each other,
filling up our bowls with sugar & coffee
so we can tell our stories
not just talking over fences in the backyard
but actually getting out & seeing women
doing the same hard work,
no pay, no thanks, just their little faces
when one least expects it, smiling & asking
me to sing a song about I love you
or making up a song about superman
all by himself in the living room.
he says, go away mom, don't talk (meaning
I have to do this alone, don't listen
cause it might not be perfect the first time).
I send you this in guise of a letter
because that's the way the words are falling out
of my fingers. in my mind I hear
the tapping on keys and it comforts me
at least I can listen to myself talk
without talking out loud (for that's
what crazy women do).
so I keep on writing & dreaming
trying to live truthfully
with my emotions, in my body
and I hope you do the same.
from Little Mother, published by
Hochelaga Press 1997