BEB #17: I see myself (a revision)

by Ceci White-Baer

I see myself in my father
Picking up on slivers of dialogue, on miniscule shifts in the way
She speaks and getting
Angry. Yelling. Leaving.

I see myself in my mother
In her gentle warmth
Her arms: a beckoning envelope; her hands: worn and cracked with daily use.
Strong like a tree, but a willow.

I see myself in my father
As he breaks his back lifting my spirit
And sits with me as I fall asleep because the
Boys that break you are scarier than whatever’s hiding in the closet
these days.

I see myself in my mother
Oversensitive and
Weak in the face of the world’s anguish.
The pale veins of bigotry—generations old—delicately tracing her wrist.

Often, I wonder if I see too much of them when I look at me.
I worry that the
Shouting and the
Love and the
Loyalty and the
Take up so much space that there’s
No blank part left for me to fill with

There’s something about aging—I’m young
I know, but still,
That makes it all the more terrifying
Running out of time to
Become my own self
Define my own humanness
Against that of those I love;
Once just Mom and
And now
Him—his whole being—all of which I want to absorb and
Find validity
And patience
And a calming of all the fucking tremors

It’s too much, almost all of the time.

Every now and then,
I come to consciousness for a moment as I
Pin back my hair or
Dot my fingers along the constellation that freckles the
Vast expanse of a bare chest and
I pause. I breathe. I sigh.

Michele Dale