POEM: “I Am Illiterate” — Do you read me? / Do you copy? / Unlikely…

900_Study of Young Woman Writing

I Am Illiterate

So thank you
For letting me tell you about my men
their bodies and brilliance
their love for me and my love for them
And how every time, without fail
That I looked at my mother’s handwriting
And read the Halmark cards, “for my precious daughter”
How any scribble penned
Of how much she loved me then
Was something I looked at as though it were Turkish
In guilt and confusion
In guilt and suspicion
In confusion and frustration: I AM ILLITERATE.
There: I said it
I am emotionally dyslexic.
For I never could read the sentiments she reflected
I’ve carried blame all my life for being so discombobulated
I could hear her say: “it’s never good enough!”
Passing the blame to her kid — me
That she decided to cut off her love.
I don’t think it was ever there from the start.
I never understand my mother’s language.
Of love, she never talked.
Of loss, always of loss she waxed on.

So thank you
For letting me tell you about my thoughts
of why I never dared have kids
for risk of passing this on:
inconsistent love and such parental on and off.
For I can’t read the writing on the wall
Or if it’s there I don’t accept it at all.
I don’t know what he means when he said: it’s you I love
So I made them make lists, itemize why, and tested their resolve.
And it’s the Hockey Night In Canada theme
Playing on the tele in the late 70s in Calgary
That makes me feel a warmth
That maybe most get from a cozy mum.
It’s hockey equipment, radial-arm saw, and smell of saw dust
Renovations, brown belts, Rolex, and a Montblanc
His distance but his interest in my periodic visits:
My dad in his absence,
And his thoughtful presents in his presence
Before he cut us off, all fucked up
Insecure like a shrink said for his new love,
Hell-bent in hurt, therefore: persecution.

Do you read me?
Do you copy?
Few I know whose parents dissolved.
And we’re too old for adoption.

Do you read me?
Do you copy?
You’re married with support from family
You’ve never struggled, have you, really?

I’m a bucket with holes
Through which their love falls.
That’s what the shrink said to keep me coming back
Almost like putting salt in a wound, no?

But healers speak of love
beyond earthly parents to cosmos and the undergrounds.
Find one who will help you patch holes
I have a fondness for handymen, carpenters,

And the kinds who don’t write much
Instead speak tongues fierce and clear

…and email full of fucking typos.

Sylvie 2018