Last summer was the summer from hell–emotionally, at least. And as I look ahead to my plans for the coming months, I am noticing a resurgence of last year’s feelings seeping into my writing. The following poem is definitely still rough, but I have found that all my writing is always rough and never finished, which is why I rarely publish anything.
Maybe you can help me smooth some of it out? That’s what the comment box is for anyway.
Summer allure rolled through spring grass in a sprint for the forest
I chased after through the field toward the promise of a sweet and holy fruit
You enticed me toward the lifted cradle and made for me a dainty halo
And I made my home tucked into your trees,
Wooed by your lullabies of things Greater Than These
But the Greater never came
And you hushed away the These
Until the day my mouth was open and the wind rushed out of me
“Will you climb up or should I jump down?” I sang from a teetering cradle on a dying branch
With an eyebrow raised and a plastic grin you called up through the limbs
“Young girl, stay put in this tree, there’s nothing down here to taste or to see
sing if you wish, but know that I have the fruit abundantly”
So I sang with parched mouth from a vine not my own
Pretending that some how this might feel like home
“Sir, this tree bears no life and these branches lack water.
It shows who you are, not a lord or a father”
With a jester’s response, you smiled and smiled
and bellowed and bellowed from a heart turned mild
“Then let thy mouth be dry and speak no more! For this is my tree and I am its lord”
White petals shriveled to chalk and fell from my hair,
To a ground far below where nothing could grow
And cries of protest rattled through the trees
While the wind sang of things Greater that These
Then that wind shooed at my halo turned ash
Swirling into black leaves with a hiss
In time for your axe to cut through the mist
[part two: The Running soon to come]
Hate slithered into a mother’s angelic song
Lullabies spewed the deepest chorus of her lying
“But nothing with me, daughter, nothing is wrong”
The daughter believed until the mother quit trying
Evil struck the foyer’s Mirror
And they were blinded from the Glory days
The mother’s face distorted in bitter tears
She writhed away from the Holy Gaze
The mother stepped from the Holy mirror, her reflection clouded in disregard
And her daughter was left sightless, allowing her pain to surmount
The mirror shattered to a million bloodied shards
And the daughter’s only Holy crushed to the pits of the Christmas House
The daughter had no face to see, no song to hear
The mother burned the bridge to Heaven
And gave to the daughter her own terrible fears
Left her groping under the scorn of a Felon
Halt, The dance of reflection at her scorching inhale
Her desperate reach now met by a veil
Here, a motherless girl who cannot exhale
[from The Christmas House: memoirs by Alexis Berry]
Her legs draped down the steps beneath her as she sat sideways in the steep stairwell. I stood at the bottom, watching her cry and mumble about the lesson I could learn from this paper.
What paper, mom?
“This is me, Alexis!”
She smoothed her hand over the ugly cream paper, the air pockets slid to the side of her palm as it swept across a gaudy floral design. Her hand stopped where a line of blue flower trails had abandoned the wall, revealing the wallpaper that it was meant to cover.
I still did not understand.
“Alexis, look at this—this original pattern. This beautiful farmhouse. Look at this paper!”
I reluctantly lifted my barefoot up to the blue carpet, which covered the hardwood staircase, and climbed the first two steps.
The Christmas House never ceased to astound me; even the eyes of her walls were enchanting. I pushed my mother’s scene away from the moment that the house and I wanted to share. The pattern was a rich, absorbent gold spaced evenly on an upright stage frosted in a more delicate gold. Oh, the stories this staircase must hold. The wallpaper carelessly strewn over it must shame those stories. Two fingers from my right hand touched the antique paper, wondering at the beauty. Why would anyone cover this wallpaper?
“Why would anyone cover this wallpaper?” she cried, pulling me back into her scene.
She sobbed as she wondered what flaw the paper was guilty of. Her cries grew louder as the wall’s flaw became hers. She wailed as the House’s flaws embodied all of her flaws (those flaws that were never her fault).
“What bastards would oppress such beauty?!”
Such reality, she wondered. But this wallpaper is exquisite and real—a part of the house.
The hideous blue floral lines spread across the cream nightmare was nearly murderous. And those lines were oppressing her.
The poor thing, my mother ruined in this stairwell, while the Christmas House silently watched. She was oppressed too.
The poor, wretched thing.
I watched, no more than ten years old, losing all of my wonder at the gold, now seeing her face in each pattern, completely oppressed. The familiar cry of her imprisoned self, every time I dared to look up at it.
Then. She had to free the House’s real beauty. It was up to her to redeem those walls. She wanted to free herself. No one else would do it for her she reasoned.
Her nails ripped desperately into the blue floral enemy lines and returned an unsatisfying patch that left adhesive residue on her gold frosted wall face.
“Help me tear this off!!!”
She frantically scratched for another strip of cream paper, trying to will me with her tears. But I stood frozen in the stairwell, watching her cry, hoping she would not drag me into this wallpaper liberation.
Whether I joined the rebellion or cowarded back down the stairs, I simply cannot remember. But I do remember wanting that pattern too. That pretty frosted antique character in the mysterious Christmas House. That House that blushed and curtsied in the spotlight that only a crazy woman and her confused daughter would shine upon her.