you have a scar on your lip
my mother said
from when a boy
threw a soda can at your face
as a baby
a little dramatic
the story of cuts
what our skin betrays -
we don't feel the pain
after it goes away
I wonder if the people
who hurt us
feel it anyway
Stop looking at me….I said stop looking at me. Yes. You. Yeah, I am talking to you. How would you like it if I kept staring at you? Since you know I don't have eyes, do you not see the disparity? I was born at a disadvantage so is it fair for you to exploit me?
I know what you are thinking. Where did I come from. The who what where of all of it is driving you crazy. I know your type. You walk the dog before sunrise on trash day, just so you can peek inside recycle bins. So what if the old lady down the block hits the sauce, and it's none of your business if the family next door exceeds your definition of "true green" in their use of consumables. At least they are recycling. Did you remember to pick up your dog's poop in the dark? Aren't you one of those dog walkers who will bend down only when someone is looking pretending to pick it up? The rules of the game don't apply to you. Do they? You are trying to prove you are better than them; all the poor peasants that circumnavigate the world around you.
"It must have been the husband," you think. He has that menacing look in his eye, not quite a Jeffrey Dahmer type, more like Chris Brown. It must have been him in a drunken rage. He caught my harbinger in a lie, when she was only trying to protect her poor children. He grabbed the closest thing to him, a Chinese Dehua Princess, and she defensively raised her arm to block her face. He hit her with such force the glass shattered all over the room. The blood was everywhere. Although she needed stitches, she was afraid to go to the hospital, for fear of reprisal.
Wouldn't you like to know.
It didn't happen that way.
You are never going to know my origin, because it is none of your business.
Walk away little girl.
He shouldn't have done what he did.
My baby hair had just fallen out.
If you never did it (and I hope you never will) the dullness is better. The impact is way more succinct.
Never to condone.
But always one to understand.
I wish that reach to escape from pain on no one. But know, i still trace them all, and realize that I survived each one. Never condone, but always understand.
The maps on our arms are just warning alarms. I hope one day I'll be able to turn the alarm off and get some sleep.
The silver marks on her legs were trophies from her soccer days. She had been very good at taking hits then--though less so now. She would be surprised by how many scars there were if she ever bothered to look at herself, but perhaps, when healing is mostly done, this is the best way forward. Once, her own teammate trampled her chasing the ball. A knee to the head and a cleat to the thigh left very little in the way of blood, but wounded deeper than you might think. Two others ran over her after that. You aren't meant to stay down in a fast paced environment, of course, but it took too long to rise. 'It was your own fault being in the way like that,' naturally, her father said, 'you should have gotten up quiker.' Head still aching from the initial blow, she said nothing, and did not see the bleeding wounds all over her body. She did not look down; only forward. She did not cry. She did not question the narrative, though perhaps, she should have.
Ninth grade, high school, A blank slate, a new era...Pep Squad.
I gave up sports for dance. Well, for pep squad. Instead of gym, I had dance. I think deep down, a part of me still preferred to be in gym class. Or better, athletics. I've never been very athletic, but I love sports.
I enjoyed cheering on the football team every Friday or Saturday night. I lived in Texas after all. I already new the rules of football, but I'm still a die hard fan to this day. Football was fall. In the spring came competitions and preparation for next year's audition. Dance team, Varsity Dance team, Cheer, or Pep Squad...again.
I wasn't the best dancer, but I could do most moves and I was flexible.
"Wow! You can do the splits! You should tryout for cheerleader!" a classmate said.
"Hahaha." I laughed it off.
Me? A cheerleader? Never! Besides, cheerleaders need to know how to tumble. Sure I could do a forward flip. It's basically a cartwheel with a little extra twist. But a backhand spring? I couldn't.
Well, why not give it a try? I can climb trees, jump off roofs, and jump over trash cans on roller blades. Surely I can do this backhand spring.
I went upstairs to my bedroom when I got home. Took off my socks and shoes, then changed into some workout gear. Let's try this.
I bent down into a squat, just like I saw the freshman cheerleaders do on the sidelines. Then, my mind knew I had to throw myself up/back and adjust my gravity in the air all while remembering to put my hands down just right, to catch myself.
I put on some music so my mother wouldn't hear all the commotion from downstairs. It happened so quick. My biggest fear was blacking out if my head hit the floor. But my head didn't hit the floor. In fact, my body never made it halfway in the air, nor did I need to adjust my body's gravity.
In the first half-second of the act, the top of my left foot hit the bar at the bottom of the bed, the sharp piece of the bed frame, slicing the top of my foot a good 2-3 inches wide and at least a few centimeters deep. Deep enough for me to show my friends the next day how I could make my battle wound talk by splitting the flaps and moving them back and forth. I made it look like a mouth and was talking for it. Yes, I had issues.
Of course, I needed stitches. But never got any. Was too afraid to tell my mom I needed to go to the doctor and too embarrassed to admit what I was doing. Ouch!
The scar is still there today. Bright, pinkish-brown, and rough. Handsome devil. And just so you know, I never ended up auditioning for cheer or either dance team.
Right about where I keep my third eye there's a small scar that will forever remind me of Christmas and my brother.
Christmas at our place, like in most homes that celebrate it, was loaded with traditions and one of ours was a family portrait in front of the tree Christmas Eve. All of us kids would begrudgingly put on our nicest clothes and then get asked why, oh why, did we insist on making this process so hard. Parents and visiting relatives would all be feeling the effects of copious libations and pets would wrangled for the youngest children to hold up. Dad would coordinate placements from behind the camera while Mom would try manage us kids like a herd of cats. A dozen or so clicks later the picture had been taken and Christmas could go on.
However my older brother and I had our own, (even more important), tradition which was to see how much damage we could do to each other's nicest clothes before the photo. A parent was always quick to jump in once the jostling started so the damage had to be done quick. Success, for me at least, came when you'd popped off all of the opponent's shirt buttons so he either had to change into a less-favorite shirt or be mended with safety pins. I stood no chance against him in the early years but as I grew bigger and stronger the tables quickly turned in my favor...but he was smarter.
His tactics became to simply hold me off long enough until we were separated, and then strike!
Usually our jostling took place in the large doorway to the living room which housed the tree. We'd get pulled apart, he'd quickly jump up and, once nobody was looking and I was off guard, he'd smash my forehead into the door frame. Sometimes hard enough to break the skin, but always hard enough to form an egg.
Oh no, our parents were not amused by this because again, why, oh why!, did we insist on making things so difficult? I'd get cleaned up, he'd get yelled at, we'd both be shunned, and then get ready for the photo like nothing had happened.
Like any good army sergeant, my brother learned not to worry about the fight he couldn't win, but instead celebrate the victory that came from having his younger, yet bigger, brother display an obvious battle scar in the family Christmas photo year after year.
Sometimes, I wish I had the scar.
He threw a tape dispenser at my head,
the three-inch blade smashed my right temple.
I cried myself to sleep, hidden in my bed.
I wish my dad had could see
the long-term damage, the pain,
that he had invoked on me.
Even hidden scars don't heal,
that's just common sense.
Just because he can't see it,
it doesn't mean it isn't real.
It was a hot summer afternoon, mid-July, and the family reunion was going great. All the grandkids were having fun; some of them were hiking out in the words, and some were playing games, both video and board, inside the cabins or out on the park tables. Most of them were enjoying the pools and hot tub. There was a small kiddy pool and a big pool that went down to seven feet with a water slide at the deep end. It was hard to get an exact number of how many people were there; there were cousins, aunts, uncles, grandkids, and great grandkids, step sisters, and half brothers. Grandpa Ottinn, was taking a nap on one of the white wood and plastic mix pool side chairs. He had his chair set flat, and he was in his noidic white and black swim trunks, with raven and wolf designs, laying flat on his stocmach. His hands crossed under his head as he slightly snored. He was lean and fit with a reddish tint to his skin, but it was the scars that stood out. His entire body was covered with scars, they covered his back, legs, arms, and chest. They were also in distinct patterns so that it was clear they were not all accidental.
Thom, Finn, and Myrtle, three of his great grandkids were eating lunch in their swimsuits and towels two chairs down, the chair between them was empty and laying flat.
"I tell you, its the truth," Finn said with a mouthful of his second peanut butter and jelly sandwich. "He got the scars when he was fighting in the jungle during world war two. He was a prisoner and they tortured him with a knife."
"No, no, no. Don't be ridiculous." Myrtle said with a drastic shake of her head. "He is too young for world war two. It was the korean war, they tortured him, it was with a wood knife too. That is why the lines are not clear cut. That's what my dad says. He is the oldest, so its the truth." She started eating her cookies. They were girl scout cookies, and all five of her cookies were Samoas, her favorite.
Thom, the youngest of the three cousins at the age of seven, who had been listening to both Finn and Myrtle with his sandwich uneaten in his hand, sneaked another look at Grandpa Ottinn. Grandpa Ottinn's scars were the stuff of legend to him, Thom had a scar on the back of his hand from when he burned it on a camping stove three years back when he was helping mom cook breakfast, eggs and pancakes with strawberries and cream, his favorite. But, Thom's scar was just a blotch while Grandpa's was like the tattoos Thom had seen on the big guy in Moana. Moana was his favorite movie. "My mom says he did it to himself, that he was put of some kind of cult when he was younger, before he met grandma."
"No, that is ridiculous" said Mytle. Ridiculous was her favorite word since she learned how to spell it. "It was torture, what kind of person would do that themselves.
"The cookie people would," Thom said, pointing to Mytle's cookies.
Mytle stared at him. "The girls scouts do that?" She asked. "If that is case, I'm so so going to reconsider joining them."
"Lets go ask grandma! She should know!" Finn said excitedly, just finishing his sandwich. "I think she is making pancakes with strawbarries and cream!
All three of them went looking for her, and the pancakes.
In the first few seconds of seeing the blade coming towards me I saw a flash of silver. It was in that moment that I knew I would be judged forever. It was also in that moment that I knew my innocence was gone. That scar has been with me since that silver moment. That memory has never gone away. The heaviness of the blade, the warmth of the blood, and weight of the shame that I now had to carry on my shoulders. Everything was my fault and there was nothing I could about it now. It makes me wonder how a scar feels. When someone touches it or if they can feel the heaviness of a person's stares. Do scars also feel like a burden? Do they feel insecure? Do they feel fear in that silver moment when the blade begins to create them and start their life?
My Own Fault
I was enjoying a nice summer day with my mom and older brother. We had gone to our favorite park to take a nice stroll. The breeze on my face as we walked near the river was unparalleled to anything else. I wished I could stay in the moment forever, but sadly time just keeps on moving. As we approached the end of our walk, I could see our car from a distance.
What separated me from just walking up to my car was this low fence that barely went up to my knees. The common response would be to either walk over it or go around it. I had other plans. I thought I was a pretty good hurdler, after all I had done track not even two months prior. I took long strides and with one jump I put one leg forward and my other leg backward as one would do. In the air, I thought nothing much other than how close I was to the car. The seats looked amazing after a long day of walking. Landing, my right knee felt weird. Nothing out of the ordinary, I thought. All felt well until I decided to just take a look.
My knee was open! I just froze up at the sight of a big gaping hole in my knee. I screamed for help, and my brother who was walking in front of me immediately noticed. He rushed to me, applying pressure to my injury to try and stop the blood. The blood trickling down my leg reached my shoes and stained them red. The concrete surrounding me was also given a paint job. We didn’t know what to do so we called an ambulance to escort me. As I sat on the hard concrete waiting for them to arrive, I didn’t process what was going on. I just tried to calm down from the initial shock. The ambulance arrived eventually and by then, the bleeding had stopped a lot. I got my first view of an ambulance’s interior. The ambulance operator asked me some questions, but I couldn’t really focus. That same feeling continued as I was sent into the emergency room to wait for hours. Hours passed by with my knee still wide open for me to see. I got stitches and was checked for any possible infections, but it all felt like a blur.