She was born in 1953, a date I can’t remember.
What she talked about her early years involved the minimum. Stories of abuse from her father. A repudiating mother. A time, a story, she told me time and again, “he came in when I was in the bathtub, belted me, water went everywhere.” The grandparents I knew were kind, caring and contradictory to my mother’s idea of them.
They came from a generation of workers, steel mill workers, engineers and cold, emotionless. My grandfather worked for Westinghouse. He was an inventor. Always, all ways, making something viz. a cement mixer from a metal trash can on a rotating motor, a pressurized air container, a welding machine the size of a shoe box.
The list goes like a truck of oranges unloading on a steep hill. His workshop, schematics for any and all things scribbled in pencil everywhere; like Zampanò’s apartment.
A few year ago I found, in the blue crate, a child’s diary from when she was younger. It was everything typical. Which boy she was, or wanted to be, kissing. Which friend she’d lost to gossip. The thing is-
– she wasn’t special.
She was a teenage girl who wanted to fit in and fall in line with the popular crowd. She wanted to be noticed, noticeable, liked, entertained and full of laughs. The diary of hers stopped being written in in high school. And then the smiling stopped…
The smiling of hers became encased in the reliquary of a dust footprint on the moon.
She’d known who Shirley was her entire life and was never told who she was. She’d known Judy too, but never who she was.
Coughing through the cigarette smoke pouring from her fathers fingers, July 20th, 1969- everything changed. Everything began it’s 34 year long deterioration.
I wonder if they never told her, would the switch inside her have lain dormant and untouched? Would her sickness have stayed sleeping like a panther unbothered, patient and waiting for its own death? Would I have ever been born? How am I so different from her when I so often feel the same terrors coursing through nerves and memories as she felt?
The panther paces.
Waiting reminds him that clarity is painful
but his pain is unreadable,
obscure, chiaroscuro to their human senses.
In time they will misread his gait,
his moon mad eyes,
the almost gentle way his tail caresses the bars.
In time they will mistake him
for something else–
without the shadow of being,
a creature without the penance of living.
They will read only his name.
They will be unable to perceive
lies beneath his patience.
Patience is the darkest side of power.
He is dark.
He is black.
He is exquisitely powerful.
He has made pain his lover
and hidden her completely.
Now he will never forget.
She will give birth to memories
they believe he has been broken of.
He smells the new rain,
tastes its change.
His claw skates along
the cold floor.
Love curled up and died
on such a floor.
He hears other creatures scream and fade.
But silence is his.
In time the gates will open.
In time his heart will open.
Then the shadows will bleed
and the locks will break.