Apartment # 3

“Molesters do not wear an ugly mask. They wear a shield of trust.”  – Patty Rase Hopson

“Child abuse casts a shadow the length of a lifetime.”  –  Herbert Ward

Apartment # 3

I can’t remember which scent

Offended me most as a child

The heavy damp mustiness

Of grandma’s apartment

Or the sting of her

White Shoulders cologne

I dreaded the darkness

When the deacon came to call

Heavy drapes drawn tight

The focal point in the living room

A Murphy bed

Always poised

Always covered in crisp white paper

The altar

Waiting for the offering

The spring lamb

Not even two years of age

When sacrifices begin

This man of god

Anoints me in his holy water

Telling me

Not to tell

As if I had the words to expose him

Bottom drawer antique mahogany bureau

Easy to reach for one so small

Always containing gifts

If I’d been good But why were there no Pieces of silver?

Grandma returns as the man leaves

He will not look at me

As he puts on his hat

What was the going rate

For an infant girl?

And why did the mother

Insist I keep returning?

Bisous,

Léa

Why write of love?

“Loneliness is never more cruel than when it is felt in close propinquity with someone who has ceased to communicate.”
– Germaine Greer

“Loneliness is the poverty of self; solitude is the richness of self.”
– May Sarton

Why write of love?

Why write of love?

You want it

Need it

Lost it

Found it

Or possibly

Have it

Though if you

Thought you’d found it

You might be too busy

Trying to hang on to it

Because if you loose It

Once again

You are alone

By yourself

Yet I have never been

As lonely as when

I was married

And love had nothing

To do with it

Bisous,

Léa

And the rain fell

“When you are sorrowful look again in your heart, and you shall
see that in truth you are weeping for that which has been your
delight.”
~Kahlil Gibran

“It’s so curious: one can resist tears and ‘behave’ very well in the
hardest hours of grief. But then someone makes you a friendly
sign behind a window, or one notices that a flower that was in bud
only yesterday has suddenly blossomed, or a letter slips from a
drawer… and everything collapses.”
~Colette

“Breathe.
Listen for my footfall in your heart.
I am not gone but merely walk within you.”
~Nicholas Evans

For my daughter Jacqueline (1974-1976)

And the rain fell

And the rain fell

Scattering precious droplets

That would cling

To your long dark lashes

And your down-like curls

The laughter in your eyes

So evident in your outburst

As you thrust back your wee head

Straining to catch each particle of moisture

Within your grasp

And the rain fell

*

And I marveled in your delight

Each time as if it were the first

The magic ignited

In your ebony-brown eyes

As you tried with clenched fists

To capture the minute drops

As if to possess them – forever

And the rain fell

*

We come to realize

That each of us

Like those drops of rain

Must abandon the boundaries of earth

To embark on the uncharted journey

Seizing memories as our companion

And the rain fell

*

It soaked my clothes

It dampened the virgin wood that encased you

And my body trembled

As the deep pain clawed at my heart

The freshly upturned soil

That waited to embrace you

And the rain fell

*

The skies above seemed to match my tears

Falling softly

The icy wind

Seemed to mock the last kiss

We shared

The frigid wax of your lips

The eyes that no longer met mine

My arms long to caress you one more time

…And the rain fell

Bisous,

Léa

Un Cadeau de Silence

“Simply having children does not make mothers.” – John A. Shedd

“I swore never to be silent whenever and wherever human beings endure suffering and humiliation. We must always take sides. Neutrality helps the oppressor, never the victim. Silence encourages the tormentor, never the tormented.”
– Elie Wiesel

“I write for those women who do not speak, for those who do not have a voice because they were so terrified, because we are taught to respect fear more than ourselves. We’ve been taught that silence would save us, but it won’t.”
– Audre Lorde

Un Cadeau de Silence

Amazon

Wants me to

Find the

Perfect gift

For mom

Mother’s day

Will soon

Be upon

Us

She will

Be upon

With the

Stick

The hard rubber brush

The chemicals

The rituals

Upon me

Beating childhood

Like a seal pup

Until all that remains

Is the bloody pulp

Survival required

Blocking out

So many years

Time and distance

Are both

Healers

Mother’s day

Flashbacks

But the war is

Over

For me

Six-thousand miles

A buffer

Zone

Let

The Hague

Try her crimes

The gift of

Silence

No longer

On the

Table

And

I

Will not

Be

Bought

Bisous,

Léa

Haiku: Childhood

“Child abuse casts a shadow the length of a lifetime.”  – Herbert Ward

“Children are like wet cement. Whatever falls on them, leaves an impression.” – Haim Ginott

“When someone was hitting me, or like sexually molesting me, it just seemed normal to continue to do that to myself.”  – Tatum O’Neal

Childhood

For many of us

Life wasn’t about being loved

Survival’s the game

Bisous,

Léa

Winter Ritual

“Winter either bites with its teeth or lashes with its tail.”

– Proverb

“Looking up, she showed him quite a young face, but one whose bloom and promise were all swept away, as if the haggard winter should unnaturally kill the spring.”

-Charles Dickens

Winter Ritual

In the bowery

The patrol vans

Crawl

Ever so slowly

At first light

Looking

Left then right

Scouring each

Alley

Never knowing

Where the next one

Will be found

Easily identified

The blue color

Of lips

The rigid form

The cold

Of each

Who escaped

Their pain

Freezing quietly

Into the night

Zipped in for eternity

Body bags

Not a fashion statement

Potter’s field

Not a destination

3000 miles away

I saw my father’s eyes

Closed

Bisous,

Léa

I hear you soaring

“What is buried in the past of one generation falls to the next to claim.”

– Susan Griffin

 

I hear you soaring

I know why

The caged bird sings

I know her songs

Her voice

Clear, pure, painfully true

She sings of things

Nice girls don’t talk about

She tells family secrets

Her eyes shine brightly

A beacon for other birds

She exposes herself

Her cage gilded and ornate

Sits by a large picture window

Her heart heavy

Her wings ache

To fully expand

And fly free

The people who put food

In her cage each day

Say they are protecting her

From the animals,

Elements and the hunter’s gun

They kill her

Softly

Her songs more urgent

They bring others

To show her off

This prized possession

They cannot possess

Her Song

She has flown over

White capped mountains

And wave tossed ships at sea

She wept as she flew lowly

Across the killing fields

And sang sweetly

Names of the unknown

As she soared over rainbows

And as she rested on the oak branch

Their net brought her down

Trapped in a cage

For the people to gawk at

For purchase

To own

You can cage the songbird

You cannot own her

Her song is free

I know why

The caged bird

Sings

Bisous,

Léa

For the rest of her life

“The deeper that sorrow carves into your being,

the more joy you can contain.”

~ Khalil Gibran

For the rest of her life

*

The rich soil

A gaping wound

In anticipation

This greedy predator

Hungers for its prey

*

The tiny pine offering

A simple shroud

A sack of earth her pillow

Static voices – rat-a-tat-tat – rat-a-tat-tat

Nothing of comfort here

*

A spring planting

Where only grief

Takes root

Pain is now

My shadow

*

A branch

Frail

Unable to survive

Severed

The tree hollowed

*

What mother leaves

A daughter alone

In the unforgiving earth

Returns to Brooklyn

And fondles tiny white shoes

*

Come winter

I daven

The wound engulfs me

And the child

Who lie in the snow

 

Bisous,

Léa

Bread & marriage

“The first thing I do in the morning is brush my teeth and sharpen my tongue.”     –  Dorothy Parker

BREAD & MARRIAGE

years and years

of baking bread

bread I did not eat

did not want

the emptiness remained

feeding family

feeding others

the staff of life

kneading

always

needing

divorce

can be a beginning

i don’t bake bread

anymore

but the emptiness

has gone

other hungers

emerge

-Bisous,  Léa