I sit dumbfounded as your
yellowed body asserts itself
into my cringing awareness.
Only yesterday you were
an old soul peering through
young eyes at a world wearing
gossamer garments to hide
black and blue secrets.

I see your grizzled face looking
90 years too old,
and shake my head.
I barely remember
your gently laughing eyes.

I see your bloated belly.
It rumbles with angry beasts
ready to tear down the house
they took over while you
faked normal.
My eyes search desperately for
remnants of the 8 mm video
where a toddler runs the bases,
falling dramatically when
tagged out by his older brother.
Now, you’ve had your third strike
and I am out; out of breath
and out of words for how I feel.

I hold your grizzled hand,
bloodied from pounding your
pain through shocked walls.
Where is the gentle that held
babies, fixed cars,
went camping and made love?

I look into vacant eyes moving
to a fevered tune.
What? What, I want to ask
is the meaning of pain;
pain you held in so long,
pain that blurted out through
angry lips yelling vodka lies
and smelling of fear?

What was the use of hiding it all
only to find it seeping from every pore,
telling your awful secrets in
jaundiced stutters and
incomprehensible rhythms?

I sit, numb and disbelieving
and see a faint resemblance,
a hint of my own face in yours.
To hide, to seek safety
in self denying lies
is a road with one ending,
and I see it lying there on
clean white sheets.

You half sit up, turning to me,
mute, but screaming from
every star, shouting


EMILY PITTMAN NEWBERRY is a performance poet living in Portland, Oregon. She is fascinated by the way we dance with vulnerability as our lives intersect, and by how the rich diversity of life and the many paths we take somehow seem to lead us all home.

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