having survived and
having lived through all those years
having lived through all those years, minutes, hours, days, days without end, days with endless days in front of them, in back of them, having lived through living through the consequences, the immediate consequences and the consequences directly connected and the consequences indirectly connected and the consequences connected in ways no one else could conjure up (how come you wouldn’t touch vanilla icecream with a tenfootpole, as they say, for example, although no one knows or even notices that you choose every flavor but), now someone says to you (eyebrow aloft) you’re still hung up on something that happened fifty years ago? And by that they mean that they don’t want to hear about it, they don’t want to hear how it defined you, how it weighed in when you chose to marry and whom you chose to marry, that weighed in whispering from the prompter’s box more often than even you have known. That, in fact, it weighed something. That it counted. That it counts.
Forget it, they say. Forgive and forget. It’s water under the bridge.
Well, that takes care of it. After the package is finally sliced open using the biggest scissors that you own, you’ll rip the box into manageable pieces for recycling. The cardboard sides in one bin, the brown paper wrapping crumpled separately, the styrofoam sticking to the plastic takeout trays, rinsed and segregated as required by Waste Management. And what of the contents of the carton? Nod pleasantly as if you aren’t disappointed, as if you aren’t horrified, as if you’re not repulsed, revolted. Later, when the others take their leave, thanking you for a lovely party while reclaiming their coatshatsscarvespocketbooks from entombment in the bed in the once-kid’s now spare room, you can dispose of it, burying it in the garbage can between the corn cobs and the turkey bones that shouldn’t make their way down the cantankerous disposal. The best you can hope for is a future in the landfill, aka the old town dump. The compost of your life. Its next incarnation.
isn’t optional. Who is it
You with the great life?
It’s you, yes, although it’s not her face that meets you in the bedroom mirror. It’s you, yes, you with the braids, you with the high voice, you with the little legs that runrunrun around the bases, that skip, that jump, that win the hopping contest. It’s you polkadotted with measles. It’s you counting on your fingers, you changing the ribbon on dad’s (your) old Royal, ink all over your fingers. It’s you opening your diary with the little gold key, you writing Hot day. Went swimming. You being careful, you knowing that your secrets aren’t safe on paper, you pretending you don’t know it’s just a pretend lock. It’s you promising not to tell, crossyourheartandhopetodie. Back then was long ago. Far away. Sometimes it seems she was another girl, from another country with another language. You aren’t bothered by the memory of barking dogs any more. When you hear them, you remember that you know how to let sleeping dogs lie. And, when necessary, how to run like hell.