| Innisfree Poetry
| Enskyment Journal
Scams | Stars & Squadrons |
By J. McArtor
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I’m waiting here, to be born again, wondering what went wrong. What did you see
when you looked at me? Responsibility? Limitation? Interruption? All trivial to
what I had for you. With me was love, and honor, and all that’s good in the
world, the sum of which will never be compared to your list of Things
Attainable. There were times I woke up at three or four in the morning to listen
to the slow, steady heartbeat of your sleeping body, only to hear instead the
rustling of papers and your silent whispers as you pondered, not of me or our
future together, but of boys, and colleges, and love at first sight.
I wish I could have prepared you for my coming, warned you so that you could
have penciled me in. I did try. I kicked and squirmed as much as the space would
allow. I knew I’d have to kick long and hard to steal a moments time. I beat you
half to death in your sleep in the hopes that you would wake up and realize I
was there. But when it happened, when I finally had your attention and you sat
stout in bed and touched me for the first time, what did you do? Break down and
cry for joy?
You tried to forget me.
“Are you gaining weight?” your mom asked once.
The next day you wore your tightest pants.
You care too much about what you may never get, or who. I know how your family
feels about you. Whatever room you enter reeks of jealousy and pride.
“How was student council?” Your mom asked every Tuesday afternoon, though you
never gave her the time of day.
“How’s the new boyfriend?” Cassie asked. Or maybe Diane. In their words alone
the world’s skies turned green. And for good reason. Don’t think I haven’t
figured out how the boys at school fell all over themselves trying to talk to
you, one hand in their pocket to keep the interest secret. You liked all the
attention. I could feel your goosebumps, your yearning.
“Wanna take a walk? We’ll go stargazing,” Johnny said that night. “You make a
wish, and I’ll make a wish.”
You didn’t want to, but you went. You went and he went. It wasn’t your perfect
moon-light romance. It was a mistake. The whole episode was a mistake.
But I wasn’t.
Me and you, we were paired together before you babbled your first ambition.
We’re alike, only you wouldn’t know to look at me. We’re two souls who want the
same things in life--perfection, idealism and attention. But I won’t be your
homecoming queen or your child prodigy or your national hero. I won’t be
anything to you but a memory of regret and shame.
The night of my birth I should have known. As I lay there on your bed, choking
on my umbilical cord, you stared and said your first words to me.
“Everybody makes mistakes.”
Had I died then you could have moved on with not so much as a blink. A blip in
your path of success.
But you saved me. And then you tossed me into the laundry basket like a sack of
I loved you.
As you walked across the neighbor’s yard, carrying me in a thin sheet from
K-Mart, did you really think about what you were doing?
The boards of Mr. Avaguard’s porch creaked loudly, the wind was whistling
through the branches and you were afraid. The sweat poured off you even though
your mind was set in ice.
With not so much as a kiss goodbye you dropped me on that porch. It was covered
in a layer of frothy ice, that spot, though you did not seem to know, or care.
In a body which had known no cold, I shook violently with each whisper of a
breeze. As the cold reached my heart, it became unbearable. I cried for the
first time. You had not yet made it home--I could feel your presence at the edge
of the yard, standing, staring--yet you did not come back for me. Was your List
that important, mother, that you could leave me there to die? Did you not think
I knew what death was? Though my body was small and my words still silent, I
knew as much as anybody about being human.
You don’t, but I love you still.
I will live again. I will choose more wisely. No more surprises. I will find a
mother who doesn’t need the perfect child, one who admits she is not perfect,
who doesn’t have a List. While you wonder the rest of your life how you could
have done it. With the guilt stacking up against you, you’ll confess, and then
you’ll wish. But no amount of paper, no amount of planning will bring me back.
I love you still.
Jennifer Ratliff/J. McArtor
Title: Angelica’s Wish
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