One summer I walked with a limp
because I wanted to be a cripple,
wanted a flaw to mar the appearance
of perfection we created on vacation,
charging from diversion
to diversion. All I saw
were the backs of their heads,
my mother and her frosted hair,
my father’s white socks
and the tubby ass of my sister
in her terrycloth rainbow romper
always smelling of crotch and hairspray
when she tossed it off at night
into a corner of the Hotel 6
where the silence followed us to Florida
from our home, the home
we never left behind, the home
that trailed us through Adventure Island
and the Congo River Ride.
That was the summer I wished
for cancer, for a tumor that couldn’t be
removed, a mass so thick and palpable
the damage could not be denied, forcing
an amputation, its replacement so false
and hollow my faulty body would thunder
through botanical garden trails, and shatter
the leafy chatter of our family’s last resort.
This poem works, so works, because you are brutally honest in the telling. You aren’t all, “Here is the speaker looking like a perfect angel.” From the phrase “I wanted to be a cripple,” the poem feels dangerous.
There really was this summer we went to Florida and I decided to limp the whole time. I remember looking at slides like you did back in the day, with those slide projectors in the living room, and my parents were like, “Why is Cindy so far behind the rest of us in all of these pictures?” I projected a lot of other stuff, obviously, but I did decide I wanted to walk with a limp for some reason & did it the entire summer.
This poem really speaks to me. I am always drawn to images/narratives that expose that desire to make pain visible. However, I also see a connection between this and your gender poem, but, this time, the identity to be played with is one of disability or illness. Really fascinating!
Thanks, Mel! I hadn’t made the connection between this one & the gender poem, but I can see it now.
Damn, I thought I was a weird kid! 🙂
Nice pun on “resort.”
I’m sure you still were. I was just a little bit weirder. 🙂
hahahaa…. that is funny….. But I don’t think weird at all. What I think is an incredibly creative person who as a child created an imitation limp to deal with the very normal thoughts that creative people must deal with. I absolutely expect something like that from you. Another thought I had was that any one of my five sisters would impale me with the nearest object if I ever put in writing that she has a “tubby ass.” Brave indeed! And Dave caught the pun I did’nt so I’m probably weirder…. 🙂
I have more than one sister, and you’ll notice I didn’t name names. 🙂
Ha, I have one sister who threatened to sue me if I put my poem about being sexually abused by my father in print or on a blog. Still waiting to be served… and she has a fat ass, too. 😉
I get this poem. It cuts deep. “The last resort” was the topper, but the idea of wanting someone to NOTICE the pain, to have it seen and understood…
I also remember that, although my first husband was mentally abusive and controlling, I used to pray that he would hit me so I could have some damage to SHOW. I think that’s what this poem reminded me of the most, the need for witness. Thanks so much, glad we have found each other’s blogs, and I LOVE your picture. (My husband went to a costume party at the home of his sister and her new wife in CA. He dressed as Frida Kahlo, and does he have a mustache! The unibrow was drawn in by his other sister and his mom was mortified. Ha ha ha Amy
I’m not sure why I felt the urge for the moustache – perhaps it’s related to my desire to walk with a limp when I was a kid??
A fascinating read, indeed!