By Catt Kingsgrave-Ernstein
I will not wear this veil, this caul,
This shroud to hide the marks of pain you left upon my heart.
Yours is the hand that made my face look so
Yours is the fear that bade me cower low
Yours is the hate made me afraid to grow
It was your mouth, with razored fang and breath of bitter vitriol that stung
And burned these eyes of mine from simple blue to salty green.
I still weep bloody tears.
I see where you have painted this dank cloth with shame and loathing
It is heavy, dark with mold
from graves of countless others
who have strangled in its folds.
How dare you hold it out to me with poisoned smile, as if to say
’We speak not of such things to strangers, Dear.’
Your voice is fear, and in your eyes I mark the shape of buried fact.
And I will answer
You speak not of such things to strangers,
Nor to yourselves, your children-toys, nor even unto God. And yet,
No Angel stays your hand, your tongue,
Your creeping, seeping lust and shame from reaching out
With sick caress, contagion in your touch you kiss and whisper
’No one needs to know about you.’
But in your eyes the shout is loud
’Except for you and I, that is. We two will always know... Dear.’
My flesh still crawls in memory, but I have blood enough to answer
For I have grown to like the feel of truth upon my cheeks,
However stinging wet the fall.
And I have grown to trust the gleam of love in other eyes
that mark my triumphs and my tragedies,
My strengths and my sublimities.
They ask me only one great favour that I Speak;
Eye to Eye, Mind to Mind
(And lo; the brilliant treasure, which you covet,
and destroy within the shadow-catacombs you call a heart)
Soul to Soul.
I will not sell mine into silent slavery to suit your social sham
I will not play your game
I will not bear your shame
Wear it yourselves.
My family is a nest of unaddressed abuse -- sexual, psychological, even physical in a couple of instances. I have one cousin who shot himself to escape, and there are others like myself who walked away in disgust as soon as we were able to break free. The pressure of the requisite silence, and polite refusal to point and name the elephant in the parlour is more than I can tolerate. Ergo, I wrote this poem, giving myself permission to be the loudmouthed child who wasn't afraid to point at the naked Emperor, and shout that he had a really tiny prick. It felt great, and I have never regretted my decision. And, I find, even though my family is enormous, they still feel my absence enough to accept me on my own terms, which include the occasional open-eyed comment regarding the Emperor.