The 51st State
“She’s over 50,” they whisper, “can’t you tell?”
The skin is crepey, the age spots appearing,
the joints all feel like they’re going to Hell.
She’s in a treehouse, alone,
watching documentaries, furiously wrapping yarn around a hook,
yearning for the simpler days of asking for a piano-shaped cake…
the game of Clue…
a new pair of jeans…
a slumber party or two.
She wishes she had a clue.
Packed up, every journal, notebook, purple pen,
the phone, the pad, the Mac.
All stuffed, cinched, and charged, ready
for a solitary 36 hours.
Playing hide and seek,
from another year.
Not that she’s scared of 51.
On the contrary…
Given a bullhorn and a few drinks, she’ll loudly,
and rowdily, proclaim
that she’s fifty-fucking-1.
She’s hiding from her genes, her past, her birth-giver.
She’s hiding from Mother’s ever-present anger at everything and everyone.
She’s hiding from Father sleeping on the hideaway sofa for years on end.
She’s hiding from arguments, recriminations, accusations, leveled by Mother at strangers.
The Berkleys and the Scarbros.
Unlike Montagues and Capulets, Hatfields and McCoys, they didn’t fight one another.
She was told that none of them liked us.
She’s hiding from the lies layered upon
lies layered upon
lies layered upon
She’s hiding from boundaries breached,
All she wanted to do was live. laugh. love.
Just like other mothers and other daughters.
But for every laugh, there was a look,
A waif, hermit, queen, or witch.
She didn’t know which.
But she figured out soon enough the who and why.
Who? Why you, of course.
Why? Jus’ ‘cause.
A person in pain will lash out at anything in its path.
From 1969 to 1998, that “thing” was her father.
From 1998 to 2018, that “thing” was her.
On the day of 46,
the mother split.
She sat, chocolate cupcake in her
And she tried to think,
While Mommy Dearest demanded
“YOU WILL PAY!”
an argument over, what else?
(Ironic that her grandfather was actually named Benjamin.)
And a child got up and left the room because he later told her,
“Nana was shouting and I got scared.”
“I thought she cared.”
One letter, separating two such disparate actions,
pointed out by a babe of ten.
The next day, with no witnesses save the Honda Corporation logo
and the rain pouring down,
the woman in pain lashed out again.
This time, quietly. Subtly.
“I know you never wanted me here.”
A lie, but also an admission.
Because people in generational pain will also accuse others of things they themselves do.
That day, was the last.
February 7, 2018.
One thousand, four hundred, sixty days.
Tomorrow will be +1.
But until then she is just fifty+1.
And she celebrates alone.
Because no one can angrily shout at her
when she’s 20-feet up
in the air
in a treehouse
behind closed, locked doors,
with documentaries playing on the computer,
while furiously wrapping yarn around a hook.