The Type of Courage that Only Comes with Motherhood
I close my eyes to the things I’ve always seen the corners
the extra shadows in the darkening room, the furtive movements
of things that I won’t admit are there. I close my eyes to them
and flip the light switch on
announce loudly that there is nothing there, the room is empty
there are no monsters in the closet.
I close my ears to the rustles and groans that I know
are more than just the house settling, the wind blowing
the gentle scratching of tree limbs against the frame of the house.
I close my ears to so much more than rats scurrying through the walls
the tiny click of a spider methodically cocooning its prey
to the whispers I have always heard but now must fervently deny.
Our paths will never cross because this house has already claimed me.
I truly believe that if I could just step through the front door, go outside
for something besides the groceries or check the mail, I could be a part
of the world I see streaking past my windows every day. I know I could.
My husband comes home from work and tells me I’m not missing anything
being trapped inside all day, how lucky I am that I’ve found a way
to just stay home all day. I shrug and nod and say I guess, there were palm prints
on the window I wiped away earlier, like frost on the inside of the glass,
I don’t know
if they were mine
the river cracks awake in the middle of the night, sounds like something
falling inside the house, sounds like the dog/kid broke something. I get up
so he doesn’t have to, stomp out into the living room bathed in bright moonlight, see
the dog curled up by the front door, oblivious to whatever woke us up.
From the living room, I can hear more ice breaking off, feel the river waking up
Pushing trapped branches and dead deer off to the side banks, determined
To become an unhindered body once more. From the bedroom, my husband asks
What’s going on, I don’t know where to start.
I watch her get ready for school and I am so lost
in the beauty of my daughter. She sees me looking at her
smiles at me as she did when she was little
because she knows if she does that, I’ll do anything for her.
Motherhood has turned my heart into a schizophrenic creature
doubtful and suspicious but still wide open to receiving
whatever little crumbs of love my children want to give me:
the hug in the morning my adult son when he finally gets up
that small smile my daughter gives me
in the moments she remembers she doesn’t actually hate me.
There are other times, too,
but I won’t list them all here.
if you are a teenaged girl, your periods are so terrifying
that you can make dishes fly across the room, can cause houses to shake
can cause your parents to toss and turn in bed all night, knowing
the Devil’s just outside your door. It’s out of your control, these things
that can eventually only be solved by a priests coming over
waving a handful of stinky smoking herbs at you, shouting some prayers
beating the Devil out.
Whenever a house shows signs of being haunted, the first thing
the visiting psychic asks is “Is there a teenage girl in the house?”
because teenaged girl are always the cause of paranormal activity
with their new breasts, their cumbersome periods,
the way they always make the psychic feel uncomfortable
whenever he’s alone in the room with them, it only makes sense.