My mother and father would often fight in the kitchen and sometimes dishes were thrown, windows were locked and doors were barricaded to prevent one from being able to come back in, as well as prevent any child from being able to leave.
In their scared and angry minds, they thought their kids were bargaining chips to be used to help delay the inevitable inconvenience, emotionally painful change, and other life-upending stressors they knew they couldn’t stop from happening, but still thought they could delay and buffer the sting of.
When my father washed the car in the driveway, he was thinking he could make things return to the luster and shine they once were.
And when my mother arranged her beauty products on the floor and started to do an inventory of all the lipstick and perfume she’d sold that week, there wasn’t a person on this earth, not even her, who could make her think life couldn’t be made beautiful again if she was willing to work harder at it, and make a small empire out of the colors and smells of that masque.
I think that today this is why I have such a thing about making sure whatever poetry I write serves not just poetry and literature, but the everyday living room of the humane, the traumatized, and the silent.
Because when I think about what is happening to the service class in America today, I can’t help but be catapulted back into the living rooms of the 80’s where children were being molested by other children in the room over from where the adults were playing cards at the kitchen table,
where even after one came running out to tell on the other one, usually the older one, for touching them down there, the child victim was often scooted back into the room with their molester, with soft words redirecting them to get along, play something else, or find something else less bothersome to do.
I’m reminded of my experience with my abusers in my early years, where upon realizing that what was happening at their hands was not my fault, I told other adults I thought might get behind me and make sure my abusers could never use their hands like that again.
But as was often the case, all I got was an admission that they knew my abuser was sick, alongside a smattering of believing they couldn’t yet do anything about it, almost like there was the right time to stop a trauma from happening and a wrong time, or a certification you had to hold first before you could try to save anybody.
The truth is, if my father were alive, and my mother were still around, I’m not sure I’d know how to tell them that I’m now grateful it’s my sort of mission to make sure others don’t hurt one another or prioritize their trauma over another’s, while I wield the fine artistries of justifiable neglect, compassionate detachment, and free verse poetry, and that if it weren’t for their rejection and dismissiveness of my abuse, I’m not sure I would have a vocation with which to take refuge in and be grateful for.
But the narrative behind this narrative also says that, had I been an adult then, with the same freedoms and powers of an adult, and were given the choice to either endure their torment and become strangely grateful for it, or make sure, regardless of consequence to me or my future, that they were incarcerated for that abuse and subject to a lifelong pursuit of pretending they were at home doing the laundry while doing work detail, I would have chosen the latter. Just as evident today as it was 40 years ago, the great sportsman that is Justice I think has a ways to go before it catches up to the no nonsense and average-paced everyone else of basic Human rights. But first it has to want to turn around and begin to run in the right direction.