What follows is not a good poem. In fact, I haven’t looked at it since i made one attempt at a second draft in November 2005. (I eventually stole parts of it for another poem.) But it’s an interesting poem, I think, because of what it’s trying to get at—that there is an element of possession to love. We want to both possess and be possessed. That there is something somewhat cannibalistic about love, in how much we want to not only hold the beloved, but we want to have them inside of us, woven into the very fabric of our DNA. Of course, if we’re relatively sane, we don’t act on that deep desire. But that doesn’t mean it’s not there. It’s taboo to talk about, but we all have a whiff of the obsessive about us, particularly when it comes to love. In the case of this poem, the beloved in question is my mother, who I’ve now figured out was actually standing in for both of my parents. Two people I wanted desperately to possess. Two people who could never figure out how to possess me.
I should also say that the poem is dark, and I find myself resisting that darkness sometimes. It feels wrong to have so much fun being twisted, and I don’t want anyone to think I am actually this extreme. But as all great crime fiction writers know (at least the ones who write for the BBC), sometimes you have to push things to the extreme to get to the very ordinary human truth.
Eating Mother (second draft)
There is a certain desire toward
cannibalism of the beloved mother.
It asks an act of violence,
this sacrament of love.
I love you so much mother
I will wear your heart
hanging from my lips,
the best stick parts
gouged out. When
you expelled me. When
you threw me out
from between your legs,
didn’t you smell the grief?
What else is blood but mourning
for what has been broken?
Now I see your teats are a substitute
lacking the rankness of true intimacy.
They are given too freely.
I suckle too for the ghosts
who didn’t make it, those
you kicked out before
they had hands to hold.
What choice have I
but to open my mouth wide
as all our tiny mouths.
you are our beloved suckling pig.
you are our beloved first kill.
We are giddy with blood and delight.
I have had a million ideas about what to write tonight. A post about three books that have changed my life, a reply to this beautiful post my sister wrote about me yesterday, a list of my favorite quotes. But it’s another one of those nights where I want to write about everything and nothing at all. I confirmed the date for my surgery this morning (February 8) and though I knew it was coming, something about finalizing it, about making it real has knocked me slightly off balance again, and I feel like I’m looking through my world via kaleidoscope, unable to separate anything out into a single fixed image.
I’m proud of myself that I have already started to check things off my pre-surgical check list (including making a pre-surgical check list.) I have an appointment with my primary care physician to get my pre-surgical labs, I have a ride secured for my post-surgical follow-up appointment, I’ve submitted the paperwork I need to get donated leave from my colleagues if I don’t have enough vacation and sick time to cover my time off, I’ve alerted my boss, his boss, and my direct colleagues, I’ve already done some of the work I’ll miss when I’m out, I’ve downloaded a health-care directive so I can give my sister the power to make decisions for me while I’m on the operating table, I’ve pre-registered with the hospital, and I’ve lined up family to come stay with me immediately before and after the surgery. In other words, I have not followed my usual m.o. which is to become so overwhelmed that it’s like I’m moving in extra slow-motion incapable of planning or even completing even the tiniest of tasks. Granted, it’s taken every bit of strength I have, but still I’m moving forward.
On the other hand, I haven’t yet figured out what to say to well-meaning friends when they point out how improved my quality of life will be after the surgery. I want to scream at them—“Yes, I know that. But that’s not the point at all.” I know they’re just trying to be kind but really, I want them to know I haven’t quite gotten there yet. I’m still in the place where it’s scary as all hell, where I’m going to willingly let a man apply a scalpel to my abdomen and then root around in my insides cutting stuff out for a couple few hours. I’m still in the place where I’m obsessing over the part on the post-op instructions where it tells you it may take a couple of days for your intestines to “wake up.” In other words, I’m nowhere close to the point in time where I can appreciate the destination given that I know how awful the journey to get there will be no matter how well things go.
I also haven’t yet figure out how to be okay with my obsessive need to keep writing about this. Yes, I know that writing is how I figure things out. And were I just writing about this in my journal it wouldn’t bother me at all cause I know how obsessive I can get about a particular topic. But it makes me feel unexpectedly vulnerable to take that obsessiveness public. I suppose it’s there to some extent if you read a collection of my poems, but that feels different somehow. This feels a little more self-indulgent somehow. But yet, it feels like it wouldn’t be truthful not to write about the myomectomy and everything that means as it’s what’s on my mind, what I keep returning to over and over again no matter how much I try to distract myself by coming up with other things to write about. And I did promise myself with this iteration of the blog that I would make myself tell the truth. No matter what. That I would write about the area where I felt the most heat, even if it’s what I wrote about yesterday and the day before and even before that.
So, that’s where I am. Checklist in hand, butterflies starting to colonize my stomach by the thousands though I still have weeks to go, and acres of journal pages and blog posts to document the journey in.