Making it on my Own (Word Trails)
Writing as I walk, I follow word trails through a forest of thought,
each word linked mutably to a host of images and memories.
An Icabod Crane tree hangs over the path: twisted. The word twisted
links to broken, broken to shattered, shattered to glass
and to my heart, that old saw, that cliché that still feels so rich and real
to me, so true, in spite of centuries of overuse. It's difficult
to be a poet when you love clichés. My glass heart shatters from anger,
from a hand or fist or knife, smashed against a face, face links to fly,
fly escape bird wing fast fancy fallow Farrow Darcy.
I liked that name, Darcy. But I could not name
a daughter Darcy because of Darcy Farrow, though any name
must link to some tragedy or other. A good name ruined.
Alicia was another. I'd chosen it as a possibility until Robert Garrow
raped and killed Alicia Houk and abandoned her body along the trail,
the trail I walked to school each day. A beautiful girl left all winter
under the snow, no a trail of words, but a trail of horror. Strange
what we remember and what we forget. A trail of memories.
Reading old letters, I discover that I wrote my parents daily, twice
daily, often, after I left home. Such an outpouring of confusion,
a plethora of words, forbidden words, like fire hunger beg drugs,
like robbed, beaten, kicked, evicted, like plethora, a word my teacher
says not to use in poetry. Much of what I wrote my parents
I forgot, but occasionally, a favorite story surfaces, suddenly revisited,
shiny in the moment of it's recording, fresh with excitement
and pain or matter-of-factly written as commonplace,
two of us cramming into the turnstile together because we only
had one subway token between us. The half-rotted fruit
we pulled from the dumpster behind the grocers, devoured, grateful
for any sustenance. Sitting on the fire escape to get even the slightest
hint of breeze. "Don't send money," I wrote repeatedly
to my parents, "if I can't make it on my own, I'll come home."
Unlike Darcy Farrow, unlike Alicia Houk, I made it home eventually.
Boyfriend lover husband anger fist hit bleed abuse. Finally, escape.
Twisted, broken, shattered, home. I made it home,
if that breathing but mangled girl ringing my parents' doorbell
was still me.
Mary Stebbins Taitt
090417-2124-1c; 090417-1641-1st (complete) draft
word image created on Wordle.