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I've watched you forever and no matter what I do, you've betrayed me. Now I've got this feeling that you never wanted to be here-spinning in the air, existing among purple lilacs, forest pines. God's gifts make your eyes water, force you to sneeze.

Fresh from the womb, your eyes shut hard against the milk you couldn't digest, and voices, the shimmering grey mother curled over us. You couldn't bear it, to look at this world. Was a past life more appealing? Did you desire birth on a different a planet? Maybe you wouldn't have needed so much prodding to live in another solar system as a creature other than us.

Months later one eye opened, tried to focus on blurry faces. The other needed two operations before the pieces went together. Two operations to raise the lid, get the light in and create the scar, the dashed line that even allows night vision.

I was six the first time you made me ask for death, remember? So sick, I missed the first grade. Through fevered lips I pushed out your hope to mother: I wish I were dead. I think I felt the bed rock. You laughed at her tears, chuckled during her pleas to the doctor. You were the devil. You made me sick, your allergies keeping my immune system lost among sinew, nerve endings, cells. How could you keep a small girl from eating peanut butter with her jelly? How could you keep her from smearing mustard on hot dogs, or make her stay away from cats, and dogs and horses? How could I stop the bees from flying, from dipping into flower after flower, spreading pollen through the air?

You dragged through puberty, reluctant, keeping breasts flat, holding on to every egg so long I thought there were none, and I read books on adoption. Finally, one slipped down, the dark blood proof of hope and future. I was safe, lucky to cross over to men and their cocks, a wrestling of first loves. My guard down, this is how you got me. I knew not to get pregnant, how to use birth control and I thought I was safe. Sex was night shapes, soft skin, someone else's eyes, lazy mornings turned poison by you. Camouflaged diseases crept on their knees into nerve endings. Some invaded cells.

You wanted to be a seagull, suspended over the ocean or an eel hugging the bottom of the sea. I can't count the doctors. You and I in blue paper gowns are always in synch, nodding and smiling at the nurses. We are plotting escape. No one wants to say cervical cancer. I can't say it or tell it, but since the last surgery you've been whispering it, planting it in my dreams.

I'm longing for the first grade, my tiny desk the yellow smiley face pencils, the Pink Pearl eraser, perfect and soft. I want to erase my awkward cursive as if it were my life. I want to start over.

Now the real battle begins. You and I, squared off, fists raised. On my side: vitamin A, Chinese herbs, meditation, and tarot. Maybe God is behind me, large hand gently shoving, because after all this, I can't help but help you now.

from Global City Review




shh! i'm talking to my body now

judy bloomfield