Did it rain that night?
Yesterday I put you away, back into the rat-pact box of discards that lives in a distant part of my closet; a place dedicated to bygone things, thing I don’t like having but can’t trust to let go. Things like you. But you won’t stay quiet; won’t remain obediently silent in either the darkness of the closet or my mind. (Who’s the child now?)
How dare you come to me out of the past! Haven’t you your own life to live? Did you think I’d forgive so easily, let alone want to even know you? Back into your cell you go. I’ve learned to live without you. I’m part of another family. Why can’t you stay away, stay forgotten like a nightmare from childhood that has long been scared away by a real loving, wanting parent?
Did it rain that night, rain from your eyes?
What could we possibly have to say to each other? Why come to me after all these years, years that could’ve been spent together?
I used to have to hold you sometimes, run my fingers across your surface as if I could read through the envelope and language: read with my fingers. At other times I hardly have the strength to clutch you, letting you slip from my grasp and fall to the floor. Funny those characters are. How can anyone come from a place that writes like this? These symbols say something from far away and long ago, from a country I know little of, and a people I know even less about. These markings are as ancient as your world. And yet they convey a message for the present, a message to someone as confused and scattered as the slashes, dots, and boxes these characters are made from.
People say I have that home in me, that I’m from that far land. They speak to me in that tongue expecting me to understand them. “You look it,” they say. The bathroom mirror tells me what? I see blackish hair raining down like a tent, hiding the pull at the corners of my eyes, a tent that blinds more than it conceals my round face. My skin is lightly rouged, covering the natural tint; a nose cursed by being called cute; lips not quite full, which do better without color; a short body on hips I think too wide. How much of this is you? Who contributed the rest? (Is this what you want to tell me?) I wash off the makeup for a closer look, but see only what I know as me. Why am I so afraid of you?
Did it rain that night, rain from your eyes the night you left the hospital?
On the bed you wait for me, sealed like the lips of an ancient mummy, closed by some ritual that must be undone by magic before you can speak, magic I may not have the strength to use. I turn you about, scoot you around like the puck in a Ouija game expecting to form an answer, any answer. But all the sides look the same, and I remain on the outside.
How did you find me? How much courage did it take to write to me? What are your hopes for an answer? How can we speak from the heart after so many years? I am of you, but never yours. How can we ever be friends?
I pick you up with trembling hands. What tears do you bring? What was he like? Do you have another family now; a boy, a girl? You must. New dreams where I am only a past regret, tear for your husband to wonder about? Is he kind, or does he beat you when you serve watery rice? Funny: your first born doesn’t cook well, either.
Did it rain that night, rain from your eyes the night you left the hospital with empty arms and an empty belly?
Maybe I can at least say hello, if I don’t let the anger do the writing. But all the questions must end—a child’s questions—questions that I don’t have the right to ask. That past is yours; keep it in your heart. And I shall keep mine, one that doesn’t know you. Let us each be what we’ve become.
Yes, I’ll write, but something for today. Something in my own language that you must come to understand as I must understand you in yours; as we come to appreciate each other and what we’ve become, not what we were.
As we become friends.
copyright © 2012 by mari t.