She was a quiet girl, soft of face
soft of movement,
and her long brown hair
often curtained her eyes
so as to be soft of broadcasting feelings.
Both of us were novitiates to the
buzzing tech-worshipping work world
where we met.
We hit it off, mostly
because at age 18,
we knew everything, and
we both needed to escape
fluorescent space to go
outside at lunchtime
even in the rain,
even when our co-workers
shook their heads
when we would come back to the
sluggish, dull-office afternoon in wet clothes
and muddy shoes and
We would buy goldfish crackers
and bottled Pepsis- munching
crappy calories and anti-health food
as we shared our histories,
sitting on the carefully edged, mowed and
greenly-fragrant lawns spotted
with islands of rebel daisies making a stand,
or striding through the suburban
neighborhoods, or using louder voices
as the rain pounded on the roof of her
adored mustang convertible.
She slowly revealed,
one story at a time
that her father drank a lot
that he beat her mama
and worse for her mother
he had flaunted
on-going affairs, with trampy-looking women
who wore bright red lipstick, just a bit smeared,
and painted their eye-brows on in
a way that left them always looking
just a little surprised.
Then her mother would melt into
one of her paralyzed puddle times
when she forgot
to eat, or bathe or dress., until she
could remember her children.
One day Anne gently moved
the hair from her face to say
she had given a baby up for adoption
when she was 16, and since then
she finds herself compulsively
staring at any child
who was female and the age of the
vacuum left in her heart.
Then she almost whispered
her boyfriend also beat her sometimes,
only when he was drunk,
only when she forgot to keep her mouth shut,
only because he has so much stress.
Years later I found out that
in her mind she felt that it
was my incredulity at her staying
that helped her leave, though
my memory of her flight was different.
She has moved back and forth
across the country, trying to outrun
the darkness that would close
round her throat each month
with the bright red blood
flowing from her, the hormonal
shadows coloring every
contentment with grief
She called me sometimes,
often it had been months
since she surfaced to tell me:
I have just checked my son
into an institution to keep him alive
I couldn’t make my marriage work
both my brother and sister are battling addictions
I have found my long lost daughter!
and that the storms of her childhood
refused to give her sunshine.
She was crumbling into herself in the blackness.
Today, as the rain finally
pours its treasure on
this drought- parched land,
wrote to tell me
it has been 2 years
since she has heard
from her mother,
hopeful that I may know how/where she is.
flashed on crunching
looking through a silver- dropped curtain
on the window
while this sweet gentle voice explained
in her quiet, softly sad
way, how she deserved what
love gave her.