Poetry

CELEBRATION

I know your name and I defy you!
You want to own me.
You take the words and twist them in my mouth
So that those who don’t know me mistake me for a fool.
You take the joy from my voice so that it is flat and lifeless.
“You sound like you’ve been drinking,” shows
It is more than my words that aren’t understood.
I sing.

You invite others to join in your mockery of me,
Pulling the ground from me so I fall like a child.
And hurt like one.
You bind my legs like heavy, wet strands of seaweed.
You jerk my feet
So that it takes every bit of concentration I have
To not look like a puppet.
I dance.

You grab the pencil from my hand when I try to write
And fling it across the room.
You turn the bowl of soup upside down,
And shatter the glass of water on the floor.
You take the sponge from my hand
And pitch it behind the stove.

I had a husband once.
He didn’t want to be seen with me and my drop foot.
I stumbled. I looked like a cripple.
He walked six feet ahead of me.
Stupid feet is not a stupid mind.
You twist and crumple my body,
But not my spirit.
I run.

I curse you for every dream you have stolen,
Every wish you have denied,
Every life you have destroyed.
I claim the fight,
Knowing that some day you might win
But only if I stop fighting.

Even as I write, I can feel you,
Stealing into my hands, my mind.
You are an unwelcome guest who crept into my life
So many years ago, and stayed,
Betraying me.

You may win someday
But not today…Today is mine,
I fight.

Copyright © 2006, Sandra Kischuk. All rights reserved.

OLD WOMAN

People shy away from her.
Old age is a disease they might catch
By touching her translucent flesh,
Threadbare muslin draped on fragile bones as delicate
As a seagull skeleton washed ashore,
Tangles of kelp twisting through it
In dark-tinged ropey veins.
The tortoise cat purrs on her lap,
Failing to notice it is only her heart
That is still young.

In her mind, her skirt floats gently about her ankles
Swirling in bubbling waves
Wrapping through her steps like
The cat begging for a handout.
She caresses faded cotton beneath age-stained hands,
Smoothing the fabric as if
She could brush away the years.
Her wrinkled skin lies in delicate folds,
Her waist long ago thickened,
Her breasts fallen against her shapeless form.

An ancient child sees from
Behind her surprised-moist lids.
So different, the thoughts she keeps:
Her dreams are of days past.
She remembers velvet summer nights,
How she turned heads so many years ago;
Young men acted silly to catch her eye,
And secretly, inside, she danced.
Today she embraces the cat in gentle arms,
Waltzing to music only she can hear.

When the cat dies, it is gray winter.
She holds the stiffened body, strokes soft frayed fur,
Waiting for rigor mortis
To yield its bitter hold. It doesn’t.
She croons to amber eyes locked shut,
Touches fluff that will no longer waken.
The warmth that curled at the foot of her bed
Is cold and strangely silent.
With knotted fingers she rips the wounded earth
To dig a bigger hole, too small to hold her grief.

Copyright © 2007, Sandra Kischuk. All rights reserved.

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