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About Literature / Hobbyist Member saarthaFemale/United States Recent Activity
Deviant for 8 Years
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Having decided to live,
I eat salads, cut sweets,
take up walking. A small white dog
yaps fiercely behind his fence. I wonder
how it feels to act so earnestly.

At night my body resounds
with slow tides of blood. Wave after wave,
it says: you are, you are, you are.

I feel old, the way
only the very young do.
I listen to the cricketing
of bone and ligament,
the stiffening nodules of meat.

Last week, my cat died in the laundry room
balled up like a rag. This is the end
for every living thing. I haven't forgotten.
It still clutches my throat.

But it would be fine, filling the years
with some meaningless love.
Yapping day after day, stupidly
whole-hearted, the sense
of a good job well done.

You are, says the body.
You are dying, says the brain.

Yap yap, says the dog,
and goes inside for a treat.
A door opens.

I close it, gently. The dumb animal
of my heart, small rodent,
dithers and squeaks. It is afraid
one way or the other.

Let it be. A door
opens, another. Nothing but white
rooms, empty mazes, corners
to be backed into.

A million open doors, banging incessant,
the heckling gallery. The animal dreams
about shattering, becoming a shard of bone,
a bone knife.

Another white room. Let it be.

I sit at the center, or a center,
the doors fluttering like an eye.
White everywhere. The animal is a snake
or a crow or dead. White.

Nothing to be done. Nothing to bite
or cut. The doors laugh and fall away;
in the unbroken white, my heart
shakes and shakes.
My father was there, and then he wasn't.

I still dream about it, sometimes, when the nights grow warm in the late spring. My mother's hand is white, clenched hard around my own. She went later, in a different way. Not better, but different. Who knows, maybe she thought it was worse.

I don't remember his face. I was too small. I remember his legs, the texture of his pants, the crook of his neck when he would lift me in his arms. He was a quiet man, and strong. It's hard to speak of the time before. When you tell a true story well, you become your old self for awhile. Bad enough to be that person once. I prefer happier stories, most days. Stories where vanished things may yet be found, and mud is made only by rain.  

But it's not the truth. He would have raised me into an honest woman. That's what my mother said, once, deep in drink. She rarely spoke of him. She felt the same way about stories; too much pain, don't look back. But also, that things change with the telling. Anything she said would make her loss small, as if to say, 'here is the sum of all I have lost. Look at it, and know it as I did.' To say what he was would erase everything else—everything not said, or forgotten. As though he were able to be reformed so simply. Something would always be left out.

Describing something diminishes it, she said. But I have so little of him, he can hardly be lessened.

So: he was quiet. He was strong. He was there, and then he wasn't.

There are a few paths my dreams take, in the late spring. Scene one: grazing cows under a clear sky. Cattle dogs, barking deep as thunder, red flowers in their wake. Mud and smoke. My mother, with the moist eyes of a calf, gripping my hand, running.

Scene Two-A: I look back at my father, holding out my other hand. He looks away, indifferent. He turns down a different path and disappears.

Scene Two-B: I don't look back. The cows press all around us, jostling, coming between us. I close my eyes. In the darkness I feel him; and then I feel the space where he was.

Scene Two-C: I look back at my father, and the dogs bellow. He clutches a red flower to his chest, grinning horribly. He vanishes.

Mother taught me to read and write, despite the new laws. She raided an old schoolhouse and found a handful of unburned books. When she got sick a few years after, I was able to take an under-the-table job at a ranch, helping keep the accounts. The sight of the farmhands driving the cattle to the fields, the smell of the slaughterhouse—it was all nauseating, but the money was better than anything else I could find. It kept us fed, more or less.

Two-B was my favorite. When I hid away in the fields, sucking down a stolen raw egg or two, I would fantasize about it. If he was only lost, he could come back. Maybe he was off in the mountains, with the rebellion. Maybe they weren't all killed after all. I would travel to find him when I got bigger, or he would come find us, lift me up again, take us to the mountain to live on fish and wild berries. Mother would get well again.

Maybe it's true—who knows? We hear stories even now about men hiding away, fighting a battle long-since over. He could have been one of them. Trapped, thinking of me as I thought of him. It made the work a little easier to bear.

After a few months, Mother asked me to stay home for a day. Pain kept her in bed. For hours, I held her thin hand, watching. She didn't vanish, but she was gone.

At the ranch the next day, I tore down a chunk of the rotten fencing on the far end of the fields. But the cows never found it. Or if they did, they never tried to leave.

Me too, I guess. I stopped thinking about the mountains.

There's one more dream. I look back and everything stands still. My father faces me, waiting. I want to say, please, take my hand, don't go. I need you. Give me something to diminish. Be big so that I can make you small. I love you, I love you. Say something. They're coming, hurry. I hate you for leaving. Don't vanish. I love you.

But we are both quiet, staring with big moist eyes, dogs and flowers all around.
can replace
in my life
and one day
it will

--Ken Mikolowski, 'Nothing'…


saartha's Profile Picture

Artist | Hobbyist | Literature
United States
Don't let the bastards grind you down. I repeat this to myself but it conveys nothing. You might as well say, Don't let there be air; or Don't be. I suppose you could say that.

The Handmaid's Tale, Margaret Atwood

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Goldfish-In-Space Featured By Owner Jun 13, 2014   Writer
Hey, thanks for the watch!
LethalPrincesa95 Featured By Owner Mar 7, 2014  Student Writer
Poetry is the best 
LethalPrincesa95 Featured By Owner Mar 7, 2014  Student Writer
I really love ur work I'm in to writing myself it's like a love in my life and I adore ur work 
saartha Featured By Owner Mar 7, 2014  Hobbyist Writer
Thank you, glad you enjoyed.
i-am-a-bridgewalker Featured By Owner Nov 26, 2013  Hobbyist Writer
I forget if I've told you this before or not, but oh my god you're an amazing poet.
saartha Featured By Owner Nov 28, 2013  Hobbyist Writer
Thank you, and congratulations on your DD!
DeathLee28 Featured By Owner Aug 24, 2013  Student Traditional Artist
nice work :)

yes you're right ellipses don't work like that,  what was I thinking D:

gonna keep practicing until i get them right :)
RussianTim Featured By Owner Jun 30, 2013  Professional Writer
fantastic work you have on here. I'm shocked I've never read anything of yours before but happy that I now have. Congrats on your DD and keep writing beautiful poetry.
saartha Featured By Owner Jun 30, 2013  Hobbyist Writer
Thank you kindly :) It's been just about a full year since I've written last, unfortunately. I think in poetic terms now and then, but I haven't had the urge to write any of it down. I was never prolific to begin with. We'll see, someday I'll think something worth saying.
RussianTim Featured By Owner Jun 30, 2013  Professional Writer
I'm sorry to hear that. You certainly have talent hidden within you. Have you experimented with any other artists mediums since you put poetry on a hold?
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