Posts Tagged ‘Shame’






My brother and I played


Mackie and Jackie,


Mackie was the strong one (my brother)


Jackie was the smart one (me) who told us what to do.


When our family was introduced by great aunts or my grandmother,


They would say, “This is Susan, Clara, Nancy


And Robert Romulus Moore the Fourth!


Being the last sister before the boy


Made me invisible.




At five, I was left at a rest stop


Because I went to the bathroom a second time.


My dad would drive until my bladder


Felt like it would burst.


The rest stop was in the mountains


Without exit ramps for miles


After, it took my father a long time


To run back along the highway to get me, I’m told.


I don’t remember.


Sometime that same year,


My dad came home from the hospital,


Post car-accident coma.


My mother took me to the doctor


For strep throat, again,


And I fell out of the car on the way home


In the middle of an intersection.


I ran for several blocks


Chasing our station wagon,


The right, back door swung open,


Before my mother noticed.


Swabbing my bleeding knees and hands,


“Don’t tell your father when we get home.


He might have a seizure.”




As a six year old


The stair landing was a convenient




Halfway point,


“Are you and dad getting divorced?”


I was sitting in the middle of


Sifting through burn-barrel trash,


The contents scattered around me,


Kleenex, scraps of note paper, newspapers


And shiny white tubes that slid in and out.


Later I would know


These as tampon inserters.


Mom’s face boiled and pinched.


I found it curious that she was more mad


About my question


Than from my playing


In her personal trash.




At eleven


I couldn’t sleep on my stomach


Because my chest hurt,


My mom took me to the doctor


Probably so he could explain my body to me


Better than she could,


He roughly stuck round band-aids on each nipple,


He did not talk to me and he did not say


It’s normal to have knots of pain


In budding breasts.




After my mother had “female surgery”


I wrote a poem,


Something about taking time to smell the roses,


A thirteen-year-old’s idea


Of cheering up her mother.


Church camp that weekend


Was chilled and stiff,


Mom’s face hung in hurt-lines,


I accepted her condemnation


A cheap, scratchy-laced nightgown


Against my bones.




At twelve,


I was practically decapitated


Riding my bike across the neighbor’s property line,


The newly, unmarked wire


Strung exactly neck high.


“You shouldn’t have been riding


That close to their house.”


Over the next years,


The shouldn’ts expanded into


“You shouldn’t flaunt yourself”


“You shouldn’t hurt people’s feelings”


“You shouldn’t be selfish”


“You shouldn’t be too confident”


“You shouldn’t ask questions.”




My first marriage lasted 3 & 1/2 years,


We date my entire teenage and college years,


I gifted this time to him,




My mother found my supply


Of birth control pills between my 2nd and 3rd year of college


“If you’re going to sleep with him


You need to get married.”


I sit on my mom and dad’s screened-in porch


Explaining how the wedding for which they paid,


How the vows I promised would last,


How my world had veered in a drastically different direction


From theirs,


“I hired a private detective….

I won’t stay in a marriage with a cheating husband…


I gave him the separation papers,”


I fling helpless words


At their blank faces.


I leave out the part where my husband


Explained his wandering was


My fault


“If you hadn’t let me do so many


Things without you;


If you had just told me no.”




Almost thirty,


I feel like calling mom


For the first time in years,


“Hello,” mom answers


In that distant, reluctant way.


“The neonatologist at my hospital,


Who is super-conservative, he never approves anything,


Is going to let me do massages on the NICU babies.


Can you believe that?”




Throat clear,


“What’s wrong with being a pharmacist?”


The phone receiver


Burns my ear.




After working at the hospital for 6 years,


I learned from listening to the


Labor and delivery room nurses


That I didn’t want to be one of those


“Yelling” laboring moms.


Thirty-six hours into


Pushing out a 10 lb. baby


Can evaporate the resolve


To not be a “yeller,”


Alone in my




Baby-extracting marathon,


I didn’t care


Whether I lived or died,


And yelled this fact frequently.


Not even my baby girl


Nestled in her daddy’s arms


Could budge me from


My pain reverie,


My shocked focus on


When I could get


Another dose of pain medication.




Now a real boss,


Just turned fifty,


Telling people what to do.


My friend, an orthopedic surgeon,


Asked for crossing over help


For a physician friend


With end-stage pancreatic cancer,


Ghost/spirit whispering being my secret life.


His friend wasn’t finished living,


Refused to cross over, firmly.


I watched him hopelessly drag his body around


Trying to find a place to plug in his light body


Which was withdrawn all the way to the


Top of his head (last place before dying).


My friend always states the obvious,


“No one lives for over a year with end-stage pancreatic cancer.


He shouldn’t still be alive.”.


After observing his friend deny his body’s decay


And ignore his wife’s exhausted vigil,


I had to agree.


“You’re right. He shouldn’t.”























Read Full Post »

%d bloggers like this: