Embers and Thorns
She displeases me, this girl, and I rage at her,
belittling her and stabbing her soft child arms
over and over with the point of the blade of my knife.
I want to punish her, to hurt her, but not too much,
so I push the knife blade in only a short way
and no blood rises yet. The slits, hundreds
of them, pattern her smooth pale flesh.
My anger, more palpable than flames
and just as hot, flares out at her. I expect it
to scorch her; I expect her to cry,
but she stares at me with eyes open wide
while tears pool in the well of my heart.
Though I jab wounds into her body, blood
oozes from my skin and runs
red over my blistering burns.
This nightmare woke me
into shame and cold sweat.
I dream myself a monstrous dragon.
I am my father, only worse, much worse;
I am the husbands and lovers who struck me.
The girl is me when I was a child.
I am the abused and I am the abuser,
for I have also been and am that monster.
A howling fiend of rage lives within me.
The flames of my dragon-breath drip acid.
I swallow the girl, swallow her whole,
and then bend like a yogini, and,
starting at my toes, begin to swallow
myself, a snake eating its own tail
and everything around it.
The image is from one of children's books, Benny and the Dragonfly. A painting by me.
The poem is brand new this morning.
I miss you all.