What I Hold On To

7:30 in the morning. Dear gods what stupid dreams.
I was balding and still married. I still felt
required to attend church. I think we were living
in China. This was before I let go of anything.
But I’m awake now, or so they say, living
a dream in which I’ve let go of religion, but also faith.
Marriage, but also love. Because I don’t know
how to let go of some without letting go
of it all. I’m talking about you, Dad, and you,
Mom. When I told you I’d quit work
and Dad said well he’s not going to be homeless,
as if I had been speaking to him all my life,
as if I had ever called specifically for him,
as if I’d told anyone that I wanted to be like him
when I grow up, as if he’d been the dad
who threw a baseball with his only boy-child
and hadn’t tossed himself on the altar
of his career in order to provide a house and food,
cars, a healthy retirement that allows me
to move home again after another failed job,
more death fantasies, more than two weeks
at Highland Ridge Hospital and another
two-thousand dollars in the hole. And what about
the burgundy lipstick and bra, the hormones,
these hillocks rising from the chest, and the
son and he and all that anger I’ve held
over a stolen girlhood and his insistence
on a continuing manhood, and how I’ve hated… 
Why can’t I let go of that?
It’s only been eight months since I left home last.
And now, going back again, Mom asks
how long is your desk?
Do you still have that wingback chair?

And she’s cutting out paper to make a new
plan for the room because this time she wants
to be ready, and I’ll be cooking and won’t
barricade myself in my room because that doesn’t help.
We need a plan, she says, and I want to speak
to your therapist so I can say exactly
how I feel and I want straight advice from someone
who knows you and what it’s like to be you,
and then we’ll talk we’ll not hold anything back.
You should know it was never once a question
of where you would go. Your father didn’t hesitate.
You will not be homeless

But the lost girl, the woman I couldn’t possibly
be for them, and the hurt, the wandering without
a named place in the family … Please, my gods,
my joys that return in the morning –
the vacuum between worlds has sucked away
whatever lives inside my body.
I’ve let it go.  I didn’t know what else to do. 
My gods, I’ve held on to the wrong things.


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