Month: April 2020

Translating my dad’s language

“I love you,”

My dad’s mouth struggles to say it.

Not from ailment or illness.

He learned love as a parent loving you enough to withhold, insult, isolate.

“I love you, and so I make you better in informing you how useless you currently are.”

I wonder how many times he translated “selfish” to “potential” or “worthless” to “worthy”, only that I never want my loved ones to translate everything I tell them.

That’s the thing about being an adult with a living parent, we notice the ghosts that haunted them throughout our childhoods. Parent melt from horrible to human.

He is sixty-five now, and age has softened the harsh corners of his language. He calls he every Sunday, and if he doesn’t say it, I say it first.

“I love you.” my mouth, an operatic megaphone to those words. “I love you. I see you. I’m proud of you”. I say them to him, the words my dad longed to hear from his dad.

The Spotting

The sight of you is a dead nerve,

No longer a jolt,

A pulse,

An fiberoptic memory bleaching the rest of my day.

You are an observation now—a flicker, a moment. 

Your name no longer rushes to the surface of my tongue. Sometimes I forget us all together.

But never the feeling when my forehead pressed against yours. Fingers laced together, a gate to the universe between us. Those exhales made a whole language, a truth AJ don’t doubt even now. That gold you gave me never dulls.

In gratitude of being a late bloomer

I was a late bloomer

Lamented how unpickable I was,

How I had to dig myself from the dirt, be my own treasure when all I wanted was someone else’s hands to value me.

The early to be picked were lucky, I thought,

Special.

Until I met the chapters after the picking,

Until I learned that the price of early attention is often less solace with yourself.

A partner becomes an entire citizenship in your soul and alone feels like a foreign land you left a long time ago.

She was like that.

Not at first. Her first impression dazzles in charisma, dizzys you in spontaneity. She leads with the part of herself she first felt validated in.

The show of her is loud, sparkly, a chameleon to her lover’s liking.

And every time a lover opens their arms, she slices off all the pieces of herself so she fits. Her love life is a series of fables, her current one a fairy-tale until it isn’t anymore, until the shine fades and she seeks glittery illusions in someone else’s eyes. She feels safest behind a distraction. Beneath an insecure body. Someone grateful for her touch but buried beneath their own struggles.

I don’t think she knows who she is,

Just the shifting idea of who she thinks she should be. Her life is a costume show of personalities hoping one is the right one to be picked again and again and again after that.

I don’t know how you know love if you don’t know yourself, if you are putty in the hands of anyone who will touch you because there was a time when you were flesh and a forceful man made putty of you. And she is scared and scarred, craving safe havens in people’s chest cavities.

She’s homesick for a self she’s not brave enough to meet, a young woman already haunted by unrealized potential. Her pending choices distance those hopes further and further. But she can’t stop settling, making a discount bin of her choices, collateral damage of those in her path.

I’ve tasted her mouth, but I don’t know her life, cannot be trusted as an accurate cartographer mapping her choices and motives.

All I know is that when I see her, the lights are dim in her eyes. Like maybe someone is in there but I’m never sure. I don’t think she is either.