Sentimentality is something I detest,
little shrines everywhere
for acorns and umbilical cords,
but I started off the normal way,
believing my tea party guests—
koala, pony, duck—were real children.
Leaving them behind to go to school—
I thought that was suffering,
and as penance I entered a Catholic phase,
saying no to everything and developing
warped beliefs about sainthood that involved
hairshirts, hunger, and sleep bereft of plush.
Poor sock monkey with the pompoms
chewed off—that was the one I kept,
working out a threadbare iconography
for the prayer card of my dreams.
Turns out I was rehearsing motherhood
before crafting offspring of my very own.
Poor lambs—I dressed them, fed them
the breast milk of resentment for show.
Yes of course I woke them for meteor showers,
but also I sat them for long stretches, like dolls,
so that someone would need me forever.
There will be no sweet talk or checking
of my rage—I fume, swoon, gagging on the bile
of it, so unladylike with my wild boar ways.
What would Achilles do? I tried meditating,
but my mind is already empty—all thoughts
expunged except fury lighting the way.
In Rage 101 my father was my guide, swatting
at stand-still objects with the weedwacker,
prowling around the car where I hid that time
he was so crazed the neighbors called the cops.
I, too, have frightened my children, who will recall
how I ruined a snow day by yanking Christmas lights
from the sonofabitching attic. I was joking,
but they were terrorized when I said I'd kill
the dog with a shovel after it snapped at them,
stiffening when I swooped in for a kiss. Yoga
should have made me nicer, but all that's changed
is that my mean thinking happens upside down—
scenarios where the throat punch is permitted,
and knees to the face. In a stifling room, flanked
by skinny bitches, I remember the weight on top
of me, a bear of a man, a preppy beast, and how
was I stupid enough to eat from his hand?
It ended with me splayed in corpse pose, pliant
as the magician's assistant. And that was
the last time I didn't know my strength.
Now I keep a beating stick nearby, with splinters
on one end for extra hurt. Rage haunts me
with its vice grip on the heart, follows me
in sleep, where in the roller derby dream
my name is Bonecrusher. Let him
be the one to flounder, to fight for breath.
Let me be the monster—unrecognizable, a horror,
blood-spattered, with ashes smeared across my face.