Cul-de-Sac

byavasogently©

And to clear things up –

Before the lump in my throat

Grows any larger,

Blocking my airway,

Causing a stroke –

I just want to say

I intended no harm

By shaking off sorrow

At her grim memorial,

But she was my mother

Safely dead in sealed casket.

Could she spy on my sadness?

If I offended frail sensibilities

By forgoing self-pity,

Commiseration in Chanel black,

By wearing neon-bright colors,

My pretense of composure

Framed in lacy frivolity,

I apologize belatedly

For not appeasing my elders.

But, really, all these decades later,

I wonder if they realize

Now that I was only a child,

Heart heavy with new burden,

Tears like a clown's disguised

As popcorn-puffed entertainment.

Once home, the circus over,

I put away my makeup,

Slamming the cabinet,

Shattering its mirror

And caught my pained expression.

In shards of glass below me

Distorting my reflection.

I imagined jagged razors

Ripping me from numbness,

Adding to the tally

Of coffin-tight secrets –

A cul-de-sac of repression.

Growing up sheltered,

Suburban normalcy

Couldn't prepare for the bomb

Dropped on our perfect family.

Terminal sentence looming,

Queen of the house arrested,

We were guilty by association

Like reeking of secondhand smoke

From a funny cigarette

That might have eased suffering

From aggressive breast cancer.

I was fifteen years young,

Embarrassed by death,

Bereft of coping skills,

Complicit in the depth

Of a widower's grief,

A father come undone.

Where did my youth go?

Overnight made a woman,

I sought divine mercy

For a pass/fail grade,

In a crash course in courage,

A detour on the road

To self-discovery.

I screamed!

That's all I had to do

And then,

I caught my breath

Effortlessly,

Like trapeze artists

Tumbling in the air

High above a sturdy net,

Pretending to defy

Certain death.

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