We drive North on I-95 toward Worcester. Mira asks about Mom’s history of dependency. She still tries to get her mind around addiction.
Leaves have already changed. Red, orange, yellow radiate from all the trees flanking the highway. Some leaves float on gentle breezes that come and go. Others—still hanging—catch glints of sunlight that sporadically pierce the overcast sky.
My psychic scars bleed again as I remember.
Mom lay on the floor, her eyes closed. I, a child not yet ten, wondered why she wouldn’t wake up. She called to me before I dialed the operator. Years later, I dreaded seeing that telltale glint in her eye, the sneer on her face, the intrusive conversations in which I felt soiled just listening. But I feared even more the explosive arguments we would have whenever I had enough – and said so. And I hated the sinking feeling that arose as I saw the white double-doors of our white-and-brick ranch come into view.
Anger—arising from the hurt of all those encounters. Anger, so like a foaming-at-the-mouth Pit Bull in the center of a dirt ring, locking jaws on the jugular of some hapless opponent. Anger I throttle with the chain and collar of suppression. Like it’s something to feel ashamed of.
But that anger stood guard over me. Ensuring that at least one person said I matter. Said I don’t deserve the incestuous talk, the screaming taunts, the curses. Said I was worth more than the treatment I received. That same anger I can focus into determination to see through whatever I need to do, whatever opposition faces me.
The bleeding stops. The scars throb. I answer Mira’s questions.
leaves continue to fall –
for a moment
the congested highway
First published in Contemporary Haibun Online October 2016 v. 12 n. 3