Hitting to Hurt
Everybody saw us
as the bull and the lamb,
that is how I hid for so long.
He was a chunk of a man;
I sliced him to bits with my words,
buried him with shame.
I am sorry for using such callous language.
I’ll try to reign myself in,
let’s just start again.
The first time my hands rose it felt
like they belonged to someone else.
Afterwards, I wished so hard that they did.
It’s not like it was commonplace
but the second and third time — I knew
the fists were mine and I kept on using them.
He stood there as I threatened to leave him
if he didn’t fight back or if he did I’d go anyway.
Soon I was saving all my energy and hitting to hurt.
Once, I drew blood, no longer saw him
as bull, husband or human being;
then I knew I needed help.
She doesn’t like couches
especially leather ones;
siesta beyond your welcome
and experience the loathsome
peeling of exposed skin
akin to the slow rip of a Band Aid
to reveal an unhealed wound
and yet here she is
stretched full length, legs crossed at the ankles;
a hypnotic voice urges from a cavernous beard:
take me back — slowly from the compartment of her mind
she pulls the memory, unfurls it
like a ruby red rug, follows the path
to the death of her childhood.
It’s 4 p.m. when she realises you are late,
the uniformed laughter of the bus stop
turns caustic in her ears; quietly she slips
from the group to the phone box sanctuary.
Lifts the receiver, she connects to conjoined sobs.
Without a word she hangs up, dials three little digits
for an operator to inform her an ambulance is on its way.
Exiting to the low groan of late afternoon traffic,
the entire universe seems to be suddenly packed
into her school satchel and pulls down on her shoulders.
Realising she is only a mile from her home
she begins to run but knows the battle is over
before it has begun; blue flashing wails
come in waves, then halt, envelop her.
Looking round she sees the paramedic
motion for her to climb in; like a failed criminal
she is known to them.
They arrive at her home to find it locked up, blinds down;
breaking in is like waking a sleeping child —
soft screams seep from the shattered window.
Entombed in the ambulance, her mother
reaches out to hands folded near her naval
as if searching for an umbilical defibrillator
she can attach to her chest and restart
her petrified heart, as tear-swollen lips slur
“I didn’t want to die today.”
The daughter’s inner child screams “neither did I,”
but outwardly smiles “it’s okay, everything will be ok”.
Plant this Poem
Plant these words, firmly in your frontal lobe.
Nourish them gently until the roots take hold
when your busy day is done let their poetical rhythm
meander methodically through your mind in meditation
massaging your temples as they go.
Let them be a lullaby,
luring you through the lucid labyrinth of slumber,
in the morning becoming the larcenist of your dreams.
Poems Copyright © Geraldine O'Kane 2021