- Jagged with Love
The year my father stopped yelling, I began to see a counselor. I cried to her, all the buds of forgiveness stubborn as flax, the color of a forgotten wall, having burrowed for years, and now with the coaxing of this woman, psalmist's verse, dry-erase board, I wept stupidly, like a girl who's torn the head from her doll, meaning to. My nightmares recurred. I stopped sleeping, stopped eating meals, only the forkfuls I could muster while my roommates gawked. I stayed days in my room and found music that cried with me, for pity's sake, the blue stomachache of life, life shorn up as a skull. My counselor kept mentioning the mortal coil, and here I was, she said, somewhere between Eeyore and catatonia. How's your sex drive, she'd ask, and, The centipede in your dreams still speaks? One day a sign outside her office building says, Watch for falling tar. We start in on the fainting spells, the one and only slap, the first time he called me a whore. Men on the roof keep throwing over bags of powder, their tools, their helmets flag past the window and hit the ground like a knee-jerk memory: his breath blowing out Shit for Brains. His soldier's stance, close enough to my face for a kiss, or a small, calculated bite. Last night, I start, I finally dreamed of Vietnam. Good, she says, and marks it down, Good. No, I say, it was me, giving birth in the jungle. My father was nowhere, not with a gun, not hunting Charlie. My father, I say, was not even dead. [End Page 50] And then, as sometimes happens, my hour is up, and I am standing outside. It smells burnt. I look up, watching for tar to fall, but even that, I don't know what it means: how do you watch for something to fall? Just walk, I guess, and this is what I do, chin tipped to the sky, thrumming with the urge to love complexity as I know it, jagged with love.