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ID: 5286
Date Added: 2002-10-22
Date Modified: 2002-11-19
(i) Different Modes ? average | Votes: 0
document
from Binding Twine by Penn Kemp (1984) 
     
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LONG DISTANCE

i

She had to go.
She really had to go now.
Because she was told.

She was colouring
inside the lines
of a flower design,
she forgot the name.

Watching a re-run
and about to eat supper -
spaghetti and wieners, what
she liked best now,
when I called.

So she really had to go.
Sorry.

Situation. Comedy.

ii

Outside the lines, loss re-runs
bad breath between us.
In the background, canned
laughter blows its lid.

Applause mounts revolt.
For that which is not
as it might have been.

My belly turns in on itself, claws
its cave empty, gnaws a way out.

iii

See you, see you. Soon.
The black cord connecting us curls
taut. We hang up. Over and
out. Hanged for a. Hung up.

The cord of the receiver
attacks my guts, pulling out
a mess of spaghetti and wieners.
It looks like the junk I was
damned for not serving the kids
Splattered in floral designs.

iv

The cord turns umbilical blue
and snaps. The flower she coloured
violet and pink vibrates off the page
into my heart's black hole.

Cherubic fingers part the skin
to let the light spread,
a violet and pink transplant.

The cord that was electric blue
shrivels and blackens. I bury
umbilicus under the lilac bush.

Sooner than anyone ever expected,
she had to go. She really had to go.



IMPASSE

You try me. You test
every nerve. You wish
I were dead, disappeared.

How do I keep faith?
I say you are doing
fine by the kids.
"Better than fine,"
you reply. I say
I don't even dislike you.
I hate what you've done.
How can you believe me?
"Bullshit!" you snort.

I whose work is with
women am stymied. How
can I maintain?



INVISIBLE SHIELD

You gloat over your ap/
parent win. Now live
with the knowledge of
what you have taken.

You are very young and
old beyond cold eyes.

I don't wish you ill
but I am waiting. You
think I am gone and you
are right. But know
that I do not intend
ever to disappear from
the lives it was mine
to bear, to bring forth.



HANG UP

Do you not realize how
your hate infects the kids?
So to live in your house
they have to disrespect
both my values and me?

"You aren't even worth hating."

Don't you know the kids
will pick that attitude up?

"Are you telling me what to
feel? I can't hide that
and I won't to please you.
The kids know. And besides
their father keeps telling
them how much he despises you."

Click.



"IN MY MIND"

Conversation
could be worse,
turning and turning on
the same theme. But I
doubt it.

When are you coming?
"I don't know."
When will you know?
"I don't know."

(The voice, muffled,
reminding the child of other
commitments.)

Do you love her more
than your own mother?
"I don't know.... No."
Please tell me you love me.
"Can't I just say it
in my mind?"

(She is listening.)

When will my gut learn
not to churn. Admit
it, admit it. I hate.



TO EACH HER OWN

Shadows and projections. We've
woven demons round each other.
Well, I withdraw and leave you
to your own. Alone with them.

They remember everything and they
are watching. This is no curse
but a blessing of sorts. Though
there can be no escaping my
presence. Sometimes you will see
me through their eyes. You will
hear echoes of my voice in theirs.

Sometimes you will not know which
is which.



AT ODDS

For all the mothers
confronting other
mothers, mirrors to
their own shadow.

How do we confront
what we cannot see
hidden in ourselves?

She is everything
I am not. I am
what she can't be.

We can never get
even. We can't
even admit what
we lack or despise
is the other in us.

Thin. Short. Fat. Tall.
The children claim
we're about the same
weight and height.

Laughing, I multiply.

Inches, between.



STEPPING OUT

How do we step out
of this arms race?
Disarming me does not
disarm her. But what
more can she do? Dead
or alive, I threaten.

For years I tried
returning her hate
with what I called
love, superior.
That gave her hate
body. Now I send

indifference, so we
don't waste more time.
I step out of the game.
I choose another.










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