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  • Shattered

    I sit at our organ, pound my feet up and down
    on the pedals, listen to the organ breathe
    as if asthmatic Mrs. Delaney or a snuffling pig
    were hiding, curled up inside. I make up a song,
    take great breaths,
    and sing as loud as I can, my voice cracking
    with effort, “I hate my mother,”
    I croak, “she makes me eat rotten bananas.
    She is an evil witch in disguise.” My fanny throbs
    from the paddling I got for barfing up the banana.
    My mother insists I did it on purpose, but the banana
    was so rotten it gagged me. I couldn’t help it. I still taste
    the sick sweet and sour flavor of banana puke.
    I open my mouth and breathe out fiery dragon fumes.
    I feel my fangs grow. I fan clouds of spew
    stench, hoping the smell
    of vomit will invade the kitchen and suffocate the sorceress.
    My mother, in the kitchen,
    ignores me. She bangs bowls and pans;
    I can tell she is baking. Her smells,
    chocolate, sugar caramelizing and heat, overpower mine.

    I slink into the forbidden territory of her bedroom
    and help myself to her pins. On the front porch,
    I drop pins through small holes
    drilled in the wooden steps to drain water.
    I picture them joining the piles of other things
    I have dropped through those holes: bobby pins, pebbles,
    single earrings, torn up report cards. Then, gently,
    I lift the skin on my left hand and stick pins through it.
    It doesn’t hurt. I experiment. If I jab too deep, it hurts,
    but the dead upper layer has no feeling.
    Before long, my hand looks like a pincushion, the pins
    and needles with their tails thick as porcupine quills.
    I try my feet, next, and soon, they too bristle with pins.

    When my mother comes out with fresh, hot
    chocolate chip cookies and glass of milk, she screams
    and drops the plate. Bone china bounces down the steps
    onto the slate walkway and shatters. I pick up
    cookies with my un-pierced right hand, and stuff them
    into my mouth before she can take them away.
    Dirt grits between my teeth, but the hot, gooey
    chocolate gives me a rush of pleasure.

    My mother won’t stop screaming. At first,
    I am pleased. I want to hurt her the way she hurt me.
    Then I say, “it doesn’t hurt, Mommy, it doesn’t.
    Really.” I pull pins out, wipe them on my shorts
    and drop them back into her little pin box. “Look,”
    I say, “No blood.
    No blood, no pain.” “Don’t ever
    do that again!” she says, “You could get an infection.”
    But I will. I will impress my friends, scare my teachers,
    the school nurse and my grandmother. No one
    will believe it doesn’t hurt. I take the milk
    from her trembling hand, wash the grit
    from my teeth and go inside for another cookie,
    leaving my mother to pick up the pieces
    of broken plate.

    Mary Stebbins Taitt
    130705-1240-2b(5), 130630-1809-1c(3), 130630-1712-1st
  • Images:

    1. Me (on far left), my 2 best friends, Rheta and Dorothy, first day of school. I didn't normally wear my hair like that--my Mom did it up for the first day. This was about the age I was in the poem/story. I have lots more pictures somewhere, but do not currently have access to them. (And some were lost in the floods.)

    2. A few images from yesterday's walk: hedge bindweed (also know as wild morning glory), brown-headed cowbird (!), Northern Crescent Butterfly (Phyciodes selenis), scenes of the woods on the island at Edsel Ford.

    I wrote this poem in response to the July prompt/optional assignment for my Poetry Group. The assignment was to write a poem about a child/children and summer without being unduly sentimental. (So, without being unduly, I was unruly!)(Sorry!)

    The details in this story are "true," but did not occur exactly as told in the poem. For one thing, I was playing piano, the organ came later.

    I had totally forgotten the business about sticking pins through my skin, but the assignment to not write about sentimental stuff somehow brought that to mind, and I really did do that.

    I need to make a VERY IMPORTANT point--the banana my mother forced me to eat was not REALLY rotten. It was horrendous overripe, and I truly hated overripe bananas as a kid (and still do), but it wasn't moldy or truly rotten. My mother could be difficult, but she was NOT evil.”

    Health report:

    1. I almost feel guilty (and bad) reporting how slow my recovery seems to be. But the doctor had warned me it would be slow and painful recovering--3 weeks to 3 months is what he said. If I don't report fast enough, (some) people seem to assume I am completely recovered. (HELLO?) It is 7 1/2 days since my surgery. I am still bleeding and draining, which the doctor says is normal. My belly, on the whole left side, is all purple and yellow and green from bruising from the heparin shots. I am still having quite a lot of pain in the morning, and sometimes, like last night and the night before, at night, and the pain interferes with my sleep, so I am tired a lot.

    2. THE GOOD NEWS is that yesterday, I was able to do, albeit slowly, my entire complement of exercises and yoga (first time since surgery) AND walk (slowly) for 42 and a half minutes at the Eleanor and Edsel Ford House (first time I'd walked away from home since my birthday, May 31, I think.) We ate wild black raspberries (yum), my first this year! YAY! AND, I have had NO tylenol 3s with codeine since 6/30/13.

    {I was just crying though, because of the "onerous" requirements of the doctor keeping me from doing what I want to do. (Okay, I was maybe being a big baby.)}


    Today is Friday, July 5, 2013.
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