Upon rising after three hours of sleep to sun streaming through crystallized trees in a tinsel-like forest, the late night trip to the Emergency Room seemed like a dream.
Morning After, Kelly Salasin, Vermont
When our eight-year old woke just after midnight with a throbbing headache followed by vomiting, we were scared. He had fallen at the ice skating rink that afternoon and whacked his head hard. I checked his pupils, tracked his eyes and asked him questions. It was probably just the stomach flu–which didn’t seem fair either.
Handing him over to his father, I grabbed a flashlight in search of the computer to see what the Internet could tell us. As a last resort, I would wake our family doctor. The phone line was dead… again.
If it hadn’t already, this three-day weekend now seemed solidly stacked against us. We’d been without power since Thursday and our water supplies for…
I woke to thoughts of Nationalism, of all things, musing in particular on Trump’s first visit to the United Nations at the beginning of the school year, and specifically of his address to the peace-making body (born out of the atrocities of two World Wars) saying:
As President of the United States, I will always put America first, just like you, as the leaders of your countries, will always—and should always—put your countries first.
But this time my mind didn’t linger on his contradictions, say with regard to the sovereignty of N. Korea or Cuba or Venezuela or Iran; Instead I thought about the ways his vision contradicted even the most basic unit of human belonging: the family.
Mothers easily put young children’s needs ahead of their own; while community members consider what will benefit the whole; and citizens address the needs of those who currently have less means available…
I’m trying my best to stay focused, but this election cycle is so compelling.
I allow myself a 20 minute Bernie break, and then I shut my laptop and walk away.
But the world is conspiring.
SHE is conspiring.
To give birth.
To something new.
My Pandora shuffle of classical music is interrupted by a commercial. About daycare. How it hurts Vermont businesses when parents can’t work.
I woke with thoughts like this. About how the system is rigged.
I hate that expression of Bernie’s. The implication of victimhood.
Empowerment is my preference. (I’m a woman.)
The commercial thrusts me back to the blue arm chair in the small farm house where I nursed my first baby. Daycare so costly. Work barely profitable. His chubby hand twisting my hair. The thought of leaving him, unbearable.
I wrote about the sluggishness that came in the aftermath of my son’s initiation… into the family… tragedy. But I didn’t explain that I was equally weighed down by the residue of a respiratory infection. Loitering congestion. In my ears and throat and lymph nodes.
I realize now that this led me to the provocative image that I chose for the piece–or that chose me. After the piece was published, the image continued to play with my consciousness and I found myself responding to a request on Facebook:
Ok, Saturday-night-stay-in’s – if you post a picture i will write a poem about it. Just say, “Hi dug- pic poem, please.”
Kelly Salasin’s Kill Strategy
a pic poem by dug Nap (For Kelly)
Anytime she’s not so sure kelly always goes for the jugular
I was stunned by the violence of this tiny piece. Had the artist read my article? Was he judging me? Why hadn’t he taken a scientific angle on this anatomic study–which could have been on the kitchen table, on any given morning, of my childhood, before my father left for the operating room.
When I went in to see the doctor last week, she put me on the table, and massaged down my throat, coaxing toxins from my lymph nodes.
I hadn’t realized that I was so filled.
Until my son read a single line from the email he received from the relative.
(He refused to let me hear more.)
He was writing back.
I grabbed his laptop. I pleaded:
“Please don’t respond again. She’ll only be more venomous. She can’t handle boundaries.”
My son was amused by my passion. He insisted that I didn’t need to worry. That he would be okay.
So I shared the spontaneous visions that were occurring in my mind’s eye on his behalf:
Tearing flesh with fanged teeth.
Ripping jugular veins as a three-headed beast.
Becoming a thousand insects, devouring her brain.
Faced with the mythical proportions of his mother’s protective instinct, he turned toward his father, and calmly challenged his aloofness:
“Where are your feelings,” he asked.
“I am so used to this,” my husband said.
“But she cc-ed you on the Goddamn email,” my son said. “She fucking invited you to watch as she kicked your son in the face.”
My husband remained silent.
I was quieted too by my inability to help.
We went to bed numb.
As I settled under the covers, it occurred to me that my vision could potentially injure the Other, so I mustered metta to send to the One who had attacked my child.
A week has since passed, but the meditation on toxicity continues to force itself into another day. This morning, a Mary Oliver line comes to mind:
Someone I loved once gave me a box full of darkness. It took me years to understand that this too, was a gift.