My mouth weeps

Embed from Getty Images

My mouth weeps for me

in crimson rivers flowing

between sealed lips

gliding down marked skin

they trace ribbons of guilt and shame

over rounded flesh

curved hips and strong thighs

until I am stained with words

not my own

 

my mouth weeps for me

yet the only two words my mangled tongue

has wished to scream

remain trapped behind smiling acceptance

and wary eyes

for expectations always met

 

my mouth weeps for me

for my silence and self-preservation

they gather into ruby puddles

curving, arcing words

form my soul’s cry

…#me too.

Silence is Golden Excerpt

Embed from Getty Images

It was a silver medallion no bigger than a shilling. At one end of the coin someone had punched a hole into the metal and looped a silver chain through it. Alfred peered closer at the marking on the disc and sent a questioning stare to his friend. “St. Christopher?”

“The patron saint of travelers and a fitting gift for an adventurous young man. May it guide you and keep you safe in your journeys.”

He stared at the engraved image of the stooped figure of St. Christopher, his gnarled hand clutching a staff and a child clinging to his back. The edges had been worn to a smooth finish that rolled like polished glass between his fingers, and he knew he held a cherished memento. “Are you sure you don’t want to keep it? This seems like an odd talisman for a Protestant minister to have. Perhaps it has sentimental value for you?”

William regarded the tiny piece of silver in his outstretched hand and took it into his own, running his fingers over the smooth edges. “My mother was a Papist from the Scottish Highlands. After her family was evicted from their land, they immigrated to  England, where my mother met my father, William Blackburn, Senior, also a minister. My mother loved my father, so when they married, she converted and was a dutiful Protestant the rest of her life. But she didn’t give up all of her beliefs.”

The metal disc spun in the air before them. “Before I left for France, she gave this to me with the promise it would keep me safe. She said even though we would never see each other again in this life, the medallion would reunite us when it was time.”

“If you will never see each other again, how can you be reunited?”

The disc stopped spinning, and William looked at him, a sad smile on his face. “My father died while I was in the war. When I returned, I learned through interviews with my old neighbors that my mother left home after my father died. She was coming to find me in France but never made it. For years I have wished to find where she might be.”

Grabbing Alfred’s shoulders and turning, William pointed off into the distance at the vague shape of a building. It was difficult to see through the rain and fog, but he observed the rising profile of a humble bell tower. “A church?”

“I took a walk yesterday after the noon meal and found myself there. I rambled into the courtyard and behind the building, where I found a small graveyard. I was tired and discouraged. My quest to find my mother seemed hopeless, and in pursuit of her whereabouts I had lost my way, becoming someone I no longer recognized. With your words ringing in my ears and the evidence of my failure a heavy weight on my soul, I fell to my knees and prayed. The medallion around my neck  warmed. I grasped it from my chest, looked up, and saw it. Her grave.”

“Whose grave? Your mother’s?”

“Yes. As impossible as it seems, I found my mother’s grave among the other headstones of the tiny church.”

“You were reunited,” he whispered, awed by the strange turn of events leading his friend to this location. “What a coincidence!”

“Or an act of God. However you want to put it, I found her. My search is over, and here I will stay.”
 

 

 

via Daily Prompt: Loop

So We Ran

Embed from Getty Images

I found her lying on the cracked linoleum floor, soaked in a pool of her own blood. The door thrashed on its hinges as the wind whipped through the tiny kitchen to blow the papers she had stacked with painstaking precision around the room. A blizzard of fluttering white swarmed my mother, the rarest of winter roses, who blossomed beneath the papers’ hurried flight, her body blooming in vibrant, rich pools encircling the fragile remains of her broken shell. 

Her eyes were still open, and her pupils dilated until the irises were nothing more than brown rims around fathomless black pools. Fear hung heavy on the air, its metallic tang fueling my own anxiety until an erratic thrum pounded through my veins, urging me to flee.

I knelt beside her and took her hand. Her eyes rolled in her head, but my whispered “Mama?” focused her gaze on me. She squeezed me hand and whispered, “Run,” then took a shuddering breath, a wispy fragment of remembered humanity, and died. 

I took the stairs two at a time, woke my younger sister, grabbed our emergency packs we stored underneath our beds and fled into the enveloping darkness. 

We ran. We ran through the night, past towering pines and over beds of fragrant sweet grass. No one who followed would notice the path of our hurried flight. We were surefooted and silent as does. Even the animals  avoided us, perhaps because we still smelled of fear and grief, so we ran unhindered farther and farther into the forest. The dense foliage hid us from circling helicopters, their angry buzz becoming less incessant the deeper we ran. Even the search dogs’ barking grew fainter, their scenting abilities confused by our masked scent. Day after day, we ran.

At least with our feet in motion flying across the fragrant forest floor, we could pretend for just a little bit longer she hadn’t died. We could imagine a childhood free from paranoia, locked doors, furtive whispers and from hiding in plain sight. We could convince ourselves she had been a normal mother who taught us to bake instead of how to load and shoot a weapon in less than a minute, or that family trips had been to the mall and not survival training deep in the wilderness. That photos on the wall were of family members and loved ones, not a complicated web of key government officials and their biographies she had forced us to remember.  While running, we could pretend her mania had been the over protective instincts of a single mom and not symptoms of a deeper disturbance.

Because to stop running was to give up hope. It was admitting the monsters she had warned us about weren’t real, a truth more frightening than the evil who trailed us even now.

Running held back fear. Running kept us alive. It was the only thing we knew how to do.

So we ran. 

(C) Sara Ackerman, 2017

Mother Nature is trying to Kill Us

Embed from Getty Images

It’s that time of year when modern woman feels the need to shed her technology driven urban life and to step back a little. Reconnect with nature. Get back to a simpler time. With an over-packed car, traveling music and a spirit of adventure, my family set out on a journey to the North Woods of Wisconsin this past week.

Now, I’m a fan of nature. I like trees and flowers and animals like most everyone else, but I wouldn’t call myself an Earth child. And after this vacation, it’s safe to say that I might never become one, either. Because as much as that primitive side of me wants to be one with nature, I don’t think I’m cut out for it, Here’s why:

1. Kamikaze deer are lurking behind every bush and tree.

I always felt sorry for Bambi’s mom–the shy, gentle mother of the forest king shot down in the prime of her life by a ruthless hunter. At least that’s how I always saw them, but ponder this. What if deer are actually highly trained kamikaze fighters sent in as a first line of defense against aggressive humans?

It seemed like every back road we turned on some crazy deer bolted out in front of us, dodging from side to side and in front of our vehicle before running into the bush. Just when we thought it was safe to proceed, there would be another one darting around the car. Had I not had my eyes peeled for these suicidal cervidae, we would have had Bambi’s Mom Revisited for my girls to see in glorious 3-D Technicolor.

2. Turkeys are the a-holes of the bird kingdom.

Picture this: A back road in the middle of BFE towards twilight. Our Subaru takes a hard left turn on a gravel road and encounters a turkey. We slow down, yet the turkey remains in the middle of the road, staring us down. Now, cue the music from West Side story. (You know the scene I’m talking about when the two gangs meet and dance about in tight pants?) My husband advances slowly. The turkey hops towards us and fluffs out it’s feathers, a clear sign of aggression. We honk the horn. It hops again and then from out of nowhere a line of birds form behind it, bobbing and weaving on the road before us. (If they’d had fingers, you can bet they’d be snapping them!) The steely light of battle enters my husband’s eyes, and he revs the engine squealing the tires as he powers forward. Finally, brute force (and two tons of man-made machinery) breaks the line of squawking birds and sends them back to the underbrush where they belong, but not before one of them poops on my car.

I hope I eat that one for Thanksgiving this year.

3. I am the mosquito queen.

I know how improbable that sounds given I lack antennae, a thorax or the need to suck the blood from innocent mammals; however it is true. How else is it possible for one human being to be bit in spite of being covered head to toe in Deet and mosquito repellent netting? Since the odds of that happening are fairly slim, I must conclude that I am the queen and my loyal subjects were happy to see me. They converged en masse to pay their respects and though the mosquito netting packaging assured me I’d not be bitten, I did not escape their overzealous welcome.

4. Teaching girls to pee on the trail is traumatic.

There we were in the middle of nowhere, the nearest facility with indoor plumbing miles away. Inevitably, that’s when a small voice pipes up insisting that it is time to answer nature’s call. Driving back to the lone gas station that looked like something out of a 50s noir film thirty miles up the road is not a possibility, especially when there is a child doing the cross-legged potty dance in front of you.

Being the good mother that you are, you take the child to the nearest tree and have her drop her drawers. Demonstrating how she needs to push her butt up and out into the air, you tell her to have at it, completely forgetting to tell her to aim away from the cloth of her pants pooled around her ankles. Quickly, but not quickly enough, you grab at her pants, and that’s when you get peed on.

Flashbacks of sleepless nights, urine soaked clothing and leaky diapers changed in out of the way places resurface and soon you are in the fetal position crying on the forest floor while your husband and two offspring laugh uproariously at your expense.

Pay back is a hell, my darlings! Wait another forty years and I’ll be the one laughing!

5. See #4. I like indoor plumbing.

Nothing quite says ‘I love you’ like your husband spraying a continuous cloud of Deet on your butt when you have to drop trough and pee in the woods.  And no mosquitoes dared to interrupt me, whether from the noxious mist of bug repellent hanging ominously around my posterior or because even they recognized the Queen needed a moment.

**I’ve given my husband his orders. Our next journey will be somewhere on a beach with cabana boys bringing me Mai-Tais and some muscled beefcake named Raoul or Jean Claude rubbing coconut oil into my skin. Oh, and I told him he and the kids could come along, too, if they wanted. **

This post was originally featured on Hahas for Hoohas June 18, 2015. It also serves as a timely reminder to ignore this insistent voices urging me to reconsider and give camping a try again. That’s one journey I am happy not to relive.

©Sara Ackerman, 2016