this pain

“Mommy, you never scream at us. You
never do anything wrong like other parents.”

-my tiny, beloved daughter for
whom I would kill even you

my trail is cold, not
the bloodiest of
bloodhounds will
ever find me, not
a fingernail
not a platelet

I survived you
(and you, and you)
I escaped her
(and him) and
I escaped you

I have my children
to keep, their heart-
shaped faces open,
their words all gold

their souls are not
for your filthy fingers
to touch

I have a lover who
keeps me safe in
a horror story tower
days at a time
she revives me,
fucking the life back
into me, until I
grow too fragile
for anything but
her gentlest, sweet
Malbec kisses

days I can’t move
I give her permission
to leave me, she
cries at my feet,
wanting what is
left of me, my heart
still fat and florid
pumps wildly for her,
spills over in its
withering cage

I hate myself
for the salty rivers
my words make
over her cheekbones

never, she says,
and she begs me
to take back
those four bullets
with which I grazed
her porcelain skin,

she begs me to
crawl back into
her bed again

I have a lover who
keeps me safe in
in this fortress
I bought when I was
rich and overpaid for
every clever thing I said,
and you and Father
feared me needlessly,
treading the rising waters
of your misplaced envy,
thinking I’d strike back, no

nights I walk the floors,
I lock the doors, but
I cannot sleep, I’ve
phantom pains in
my hand that holds
the skeleton key

electricity stabs
and shrieks each
step I take on my
stone cold, white hot,
long, bony feet

a thin curtain of skin
but my bones show,
they tell stories,
as sharp ghosts of
thorns and daggers
twist into my feet

I walk on my heels,
I roll to my arches,
any sweet spot
eludes me

when I get really quiet
something starts
inside me

my legs hurt,
muscle fibers tear
like butcher’s paper
off the roll, wrapping
up the meat of
the defeated

tiny monsters are
trapped deep in the
puncture wounds
of every hook
and barb that
has been thrown
at me, that ever
pierced me,
that found itself
extracted, freed,
from my paper-thin
skin in a hot, red
painterly flourish

I’m bleeding again, watch
the rose petals fall,
the cardinals take flight,
watch them abandoning
the frozen grass, a million
glass palaces crunching
under your heavy boots,
your thick, peasant feet

just focus your spyglass,
old and cold, and watch

ice water fills my
blue veins, and
time stands still,
then retreats to
a fist in the teeth,
bite marks in
bad places
when I sleep
(oh Mother, will
your tortures
never cease?)

I am nothing but
the small fish
thrown back,

I see the perfect circle
cut out of the ice
above me

you call, we speak,
you want my children
for the night,
I won’t agree

I hang up, sit with
the small victory
of having said no

but when my weight
shifts from my feet,
sharp needles prick,
push, turn, up again,
pulling razor wire
through all of me, a
cruel seamstress
sewing false pockets
within my skin

that is where I
keep hidden all
your old letters to
your own mother,
only one of them
is about me

my heart beats angry
in my weakening knees
my head attacks like
a blaring TV, I have
phantom pains in
my ovaries, I have
chunks of ice in the veins
in my feet, I will die alone,
a charred pear tree, and
it won’t be by your hand,
Mother, no

this pain , this pain
will end me


This poem is my entry for the latest open link night at the dVerse Poets Pub. I don’t know why I have always tried (and often failed) to keep my physical pain out of my work when it is so driven by emotional pain. But I just let it go writing this last night. I’m a little better today, don’t worry.

I encourage anyone who read my poem to read some other entries tonight. Chances are they will be more cheerful, though not all of them.:)  It’s a great way to find the latest work by new poets – xo wb

About Wyeth Bailey

Raging my mid-life crisis. Reclaiming my riot girl youth. Resenting my overdeveloped intellect. Wyeth Bailey is a pseudonym. You may follow me on twitter @DangerousSweets View all posts by Wyeth Bailey

5 responses to “this pain

  • hisfirefly

    safe in a fortress?
    perhaps that isn’t safe at all

  • brian miller

    whew…good job letting loose…i would def kill for my kids as well…if it came to it…mama bear…smiles….that is only a piece of this…really interesting on the relationship with the lover willing to be there even when the bullets are flying…its hard to deal with chronic pain as well…

  • claudia

    for me the most painful was what you wrote about your mother and the pain there…the being willing to do everything for your kids to keep them safe – i def. can relate

  • Björn Rudberg (brudberg)

    The pain of having to build a fortress .. Some excellent lines here.. The pockets with old letters in you skin – whew that took my breath away. Glad you feel better… Hopefully writing this was part of it.

  • Grace

    Terrific writing ~ That pain is so real & painful, both physically, emotionally & mentally ~ If that is what it will take to keep your children safe, then be strong and keep the darkenss at bay ~

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