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Enough Is Enough

 

for RS

 

I remember those weeks before my mother passed, watching

her binge on ice cream and chocolate, feet swollen, bowels bogged,

silence and stillness her arch nemeses. I realize now that she

was simply a child sent to a boarding school too early, turned

over to nuns who branded her with the crucifix, an orphan reared

on broth and brimstone, pawned off by guardians to my father,

sixteen years her senior. It makes sense somehow that she would

become an actress, a connoisseur, the quintessential hostess, but

fast forward a decade or so, and it’s what happened after the party

ended, when the guests would leave, that I recall—father’s drunken

jealousy erupting, their voices shrill, staccato, then mother wailing

in the jasmine, dirt on her face, handfuls of hair in the moonlit grass.

I spent my childhood running a gauntlet between house and lawn,

engineering truces between mad giants, praying that we might

get some sleep before the new light. On these August evenings

pulsing with fireflies, I still see mother writhing by the boxwood

with a corkscrew in her heart, father pacing his overturned castle,

shattering wine glasses on the patio. I’m pausing tonight to say

I’m sick and weary of red-washing my numbness with their blood.

Valerie, Bill, I no longer need to keep your graves unmarked.