... that was when my world ended.
How does one sum up a human life
in words to forever remember
the one person you love, loved most.
Conjuring up in the mind
those moments that brought laughter,
even those precious seconds
when unadulterated passion consumed
the very essence of love’s power?
When that special life, that one ember,
constantly burning inside your soul,
never to turn cold;
but it always grabs you when unaware,
forcing another memory to come alive.
It takes more than mere words;
it takes all those years lived
to bring about feelings held,
when perhaps one day,
the one you love, loved most,
will hear those words again.
Don’t Look Back
The lonely girl
Lost in her mind
the sands of time
the depths of pain
that will restrain
The very being
she always was
with a cause
But she triumphed
She is mighty
that's a fact
The girl she was
will not be back
She’s not coming back
Ada sat in the middle of Mama’s bed, holding little Evie. Evie’s face was finally relaxed and peaceful. She had cried for so long Ada had wanted to cry, too. But she was Mama’s big girl, her little helper. She had a job, and that job was to take care of little Evie while Mama was getting that new baby out of her tummy and into their arms.
“Mama’s going to get in the tub, baby girl. It’s time for your new brother or sister to join our family,” Mama had said, smiling at Ada before she grabbed her belly and moaned a little.
“Mama?” Ada had asked, frightened by the look on Mama’s face before she had doubled over.
“I’m fine, baby girl,” Mama had said, straightening up and cupping Ada’s cheek. “Take Evie and go sit on Mama’s bed. Daddy should be coming soon.”
But that was when the big hand was on the twelve and the little hand was on the two. The little hand was on the eight now. She’d changed little Evie’s diaper at least four times. She wasn’t as good at it as Mama, but she did it. But still Evie cried. She tried to get her to eat a banana, but she just spit it out and kept crying. So, she’d got a bottle out of the Frigidaire and dragged a chair to the stove so she could warm it up. She wasn’t supposed to touch the stove, but she knew Mama always warmed the bottle before she gave it to little Evie. Finally, she had drifted off to sleep, exhausted by the crying or comforted by the bottle.
And now it was almost dark. It was quiet in the bathroom. Mama wasn’t making any scary sounds and there was no baby crying either. Ada sat holding her baby sister close as the night fell and wished she could fall asleep, too.
She lay Ada on the bed, putting pillows around her so she wouldn’t roll onto the floor. Then, she climbed off the bed and tiptoed to the bathroom.
“Mama?” she whispered.
She heard the slightest whimpering sound. She opened the door.
In the tub, lay Mama, eyes closed.
Mama fell asleep in the tub, Ada thought as we walked over to her.
When she looked in the tub, she began to scream, “Mama, Mama! Wake up! Wake up, Mama!” For the tub was full of blood and vomit and feces and there was a little baby laying in it and Mama wasn’t doing anything. Ada continued screaming and shaking her mama’s shoulder.
Eventually, Miss Hattie, their neighbor from next door who sometimes looked after her and little Evie, came banging on the door. “Helen? Ada? What’s going on in there?
Ada ran to the door, “Miss Hattie, Miss Hattie! It’s Mama! I can’t wake her up and there’s blood and the new baby and I don’t know what to do!”
“Calm down, child. Open the door for Miss Hattie.”
“I can’t reach the lock,” Ada wailed.
“Stay right there, Ada. I’ll go get the spare key. Stop crying now. Miss Hattie will be right there.”
Miss Hattie got the key and called the police, all the while mumbling about that no-account man Helen thought could do no wrong. Where was he now? Damn shame, she thought. Such a sweet thing with those cute babies. Hmmph, no such thing as a good man.
When Miss Hattie got in the apartment, Ada grabbed hold of her legs. “Now, now, child. Miss Hattie’s here. Take me to your mama.”
At the door of the bathroom, Miss Hattie swiftly turned Ada around and said, “Sugar, you go on and take care of little Evie. I’ll take care of the new baby.”
“And Mama,” Ada whispered.
“Go on,” said Miss Hattie.
When the police arrived, Miss Hattie had already cut the umbilical cord, cleaned the baby and made sure his mouth was clear and he was breathing. She wrapped him in a blanket. She had cleaned the tub and poor Helen, laying a sheet over her nakedness. She opened the door, baby in her arms.
“What’s the emergency, girl?”
“The emergency is over,” Miss Hattie replied, too sad to take offense at the officer’s disrespect. “Mrs. Marshall, the woman who lives in this apartment, is in the tub. She gave birth to this here baby some time today. I came when I heard her older daughter screaming. Something went wrong. She’s dead. The baby is breathing, but I’m sure he needs help. I don’t know how long he was laying there.”
“Where’s the father?”
“I don’t know.”
Soon, the apartment was overrun with emergency personnel. Mama was taken out on a stretcher while Ada stood in the doorway of the bedroom.
“When is Mama coming back?” she asked Miss Hattie who was still holding the new baby boy while little Evie slept.
“She not coming back, child.”
“A man took Mama away,” said the little boy, looking into the woman’s face with confidence. “He said a lot of bad words. He hit her.” His wide, brown eyes filled with tears. “He hit her,” he repeated in a choked sob.
The woman nodded as she crouched down to look at him, one hand stroking his ruffled hair soothingly, the other holding his own small one. He thought she would never let go. Her fingers were hard and bony and her face was pinched, red, as though it had been scrubbed too hard. She was kind, he told himself, very kind, but she was not like his mother. His mother had soft blonde curls that he could wrap around his fingers, deep eyes and gentle, smiling lips; she was not old and tired and her voice did not have the timidity of this woman’s.
“Darling, you’ll have to come with me, now,” she was saying, pulling ever so slightly on his hand. “Your mama isn’t coming back just yet.”
“Where did they take her?”
“I don’t know, but she can’t come back now; we have to leave, little one. It’s not safe. The city may be bombed again.”
“They took her away to the camps, didn’t they?” the boy set his mouth in a thin, straight line to prevent the tears from returning. “They’ll hurt her more, there. She’s going to have a baby. What if the baby gets hurt, too? She said she had to be careful not to hurt her stomach because the baby is in there. But what if they hit the baby?” His voice was quickly rising, becoming more agitated.
The tired woman was looking around now, unhearing. She seemed to be searching for someone amidst the long line of people; bedraggled, tired, men and women and children carrying their belongings as they left their beloved city. Her grip on his hand tightened and she stood up, tugging on him firmly. He pulled back, trying to release himself, and repeated, “What if they hit the baby?”
“We have to leave,” begged the woman. “I can’t let you stay here.”
“She promised she would come back,” protested the boy, pulling more forcefully. “I have to wait for her. She promised.”
“You don’t understand, my dear, they’ll kill you if you stay,” the woman said, tears coursing down her cheeks. “Look over there ... my husband’s coming. We’ll all go together. We’ll go out to the country to be safe. There’s my little girl. Her name is Maja. You can’t help your mother right now, sweetheart ... please come with us.”
No, no, he couldn’t, he wouldn’t, he had to stay. In a sudden panic the boy tore himself away and began to run, quickly leaving the poor woman behind in the confusion. He ran faster and faster, his heart thumping in his ears, his bare feet aching and scratched, past the familiar houses, past the crumbling buildings and the few huddles of children or families salvaging what they could from the ruins, until he reached the old shop: Tata’s shop. He couldn’t leave Warsaw. If he waited a while, she would come. Perhaps Tata would come, too, and then they would all be safe together. Tata was big and strong; he could protect Mama and the baby and himself. The little boy buried his head in his arms and let the tears flow freely, wetting his sleeves. A dog yelped outside, someone screamed, a girl called to her brother to hurry; but inside, inside it was quiet and cosy and no one would hurt him. She was coming back. She promised ... she promised ....
that when i leave you
i won't be coming back
because if i do,
i might end up staying.
and if i stay,
i might end up living.
and if i live,
i might end up crying.
just know that i won't be coming back
because if i do,
it will be the end of my lonliness
and i'm not ready to feel comfort
An argument was the last act that we performed.
A loud conversation, our definition of “New Norm”.
A suffocated show of emotion, so deeply bottled inside.
Caused an angry decision to relocate.
She packed and I cried.
A blurry picture of her leaving me alone.
Ached within my body cavity,
every single bone.
There were no words I could reverse to make her unpack.
She was leaving me, and she was never coming back.
I still see you
in the faces of strangers
in the art of my own hands
in the smiles of the kids
on the concrete benches at our old school.
I still think about you
whenever I play cards
whenever I see a musical
whenever halloween comes round
because I wonder if it's still your favorite holiday.
I still hear you
in the voices of a crowd
in the music of the city
in every word I've never said
because I still regret leaving every day.
Stars in my Heart
When we woke up on June 27th, I knew something was different about her. I didn’t want to say anything about it because I didn’t want her to be alarmed, though I’m sure she felt it already. I went to the kitchen and decided to make her breakfast before we watched the sunrise. Pancakes and bacon, her favorite.
We sat on our front porch swing, she laid in my arms and I held her close. We were silent as the sun rose, once it was up, I looked at her. Her eyes shining in the newly risen sunlight. I couldn’t help but say something now.
“Everytime I close my eyes at night, I’ll see this sunrise with you. When I open my eyes again, I’ll remember your emerald green eyes and soft auburn hair. No matter what I do, I’ll never forget the memory of you. And when you leave, you can take the stars and I’ll keep the moon ” I heard her softly whisper,
“I love you.” as I pulled her closer.
That night, there were no stars. Silently, I watched the moon rise, alone. But I’ll forever keep the stars in my heart.