Tuesday, August 23, 2011

War Wounds

In a crowded garden like mine, flowers are bruised by the leaves of their neighbors as they jostle in the evening breeze. A stiff hairy leaf, like a sunflower’s, will rub bald spots on a dahlia bloom. I hate that.

I still pick the flowers, though, then patiently give them little haircuts and put in them in vases, disguising the bald spots with greenery and other flowers. To the uncritical eye, they are still beautiful.

My left inner wrist is a mass of scars: eighteen of them, 2 to 2.5 inches long, running lengthwise up my forearm, across the width of my wrist. I made them with an Exacto knife 24 years ago. Some are thicker than others. I forget they’re there. Then I’ll put out my hand to somebody for some reason, look down, see them, and I feel nothing. Most people say nothing. Neither do I.

It was a bad night. I was 34. I worked on it for a couple of hours. Got drunk and got blood all over the kitchen. Had a young child sleeping in a bedroom. Made a call finally, somebody came and wrapped my wrist in cotton gauze. Two days later, I went to a psychiatric hospital for a couple of weeks. I got better. Two years later, I got sober.

Five years ago, I asked my husband of 14 years to hide the Exacto knives because I heard them calling. He had only known me sober. He had no idea I had been drinking in the garage during that winter. But he knew my scars, and he was scared. So he hid the knives. I got honest and sober again a few months later, but the knives are still in hiding. I asked for one last year to do a project. He couldn’t find it.

In a meeting recently, a guy said he was allergic to alcohol, and when he drinks he breaks out in handcuffs and IVs. I laughed. I break out too, in other things. That’s the back story for this poem:

Wounded Flowers

Flowers speak for me. They say
a leaf is a dangerous thing
a petal, too vulnerable for words.
that leaf is a razor
how it has sliced
that petal.
when I was young
I could not bear the world.
My blood flowed
with the razors
of other people’s leaves.

Flowers speak for me. They say
is imperfect.
how my wrists
work in tandem with
the scars that line them
as I snip the razored petals
of the injured
how pretty
in their vases
are the wounded.


Titus said...

Superb overarching metaphor, jagged verse so appropriate. And oh, those final four lines.
I salute you, warrior.

Zed said...

omw, woman. You made me cry.

the walking man said...

There is always hope...even for the drunks who can still see well enough to make a phone call.

Brian Miller said...

thank you for being real chris...we all need help sometimes to fight our demons...glad you have those with you that care enough...your poem is beautiful...broken and scarred things carry just as much beauty as the rest in their reflection of reality...

Magpie said...

A deeply moving piece, Chris.

just jane said...

That was moving, and beautiful.
I have never thought of injuring myself like that. I did think of suicide, once, very seriously. I called someone and stayed a week in the hospital.
Your poem left me breathless.

NanU said...

Courage to you, Chris. I hope you find joy in your life to counterweight the pain gone by.

I go out in my garden every chance I get, to see how the gladioli are doing, who's opened up and who's finished. They're so ephemeral.

Gabriella Moonlight said...

This post definitely spoke to me on many levels. I understand that letting go of hope for the desperation of what we perceive as relief. Thank you for your honesty and boldness, and your poetry and spirit.


Joker the Lurcher said...

this is a really powerful post - i always read your blog but i had to comment this time. you write so well, both in prose and in poetry.

Gerry Snape said...

Chris...so moving in the honesty...thankyou so much for posting this poem.

twinkly sparkles said...

I love this poem. Thank you, twinkly

Lolamouse said...

I've got tears in my eyes now. So moving and beautiful. Hang in there always. You are a talented and precious soul.

Steve E said...

Helpless, hopeless, despondent. Chris I hope it helped you to write that story. Because it certainly helps a lot of others of us to read it...and identify.

"We see how our experience can help others..." --from somewhere in the BB.

Steve E

young-eclectic-encounters said...

Being a surviver myself only in different ways; your post touched my soul how very brave of you to share so much of your life- it shows how much you have suffered and healed- keep on your road to recovery
Johnina :D

Carrie Burtt said...

A truly amazing post,and the poem is beautiful!

Lou said...

I can't imagine that kind of inner pain.

Here is to LIFE! and all it's wounded beauty.

Syd said...

Chris, this story along with those that you write about your mother bring tears to my eyes. I understand that pain, have felt it, but didn't act on it, thank God. We stab ourselves in so many ways. I am glad that you are doing okay today. We are all a little bruised and scarred from life.

haikulovesongs said...

as Johnina {young-eclectic-encounters} said, your words both in your story and your poem can touch the souls of others who have survived, whatever the stories. i also appreciate you sharing your past pain and what feels like realistic hope for the future. i tend to be the most hopeful when things are the most difficult.

how pretty
in their vases
are the wounded."

appearances really mean nothing, do they?

i am so grateful to have discovered your blog {through Poetry Jam.}

dani ♥

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