I watch you start prep school
with a cheerful eye on the clock,
waiting to be reunited with happiness.
You began the year on the honor’s roll
and ended barely passing your classes,
with your first suicide attempt
not that far behind you.
Is it so hard to keep track
of a fifteen-year-old?
At night you eat four by five inch brownies
heated up with a pint of ice cream on top,
and I let you. I like the sugar, too.
I have a bellyful of you.
I think, “Fifteen, there you are.”
I am not so flexible in yoga class,
but I have found you.
What kind of fancy boarding school misses you?
Why didn’t they call when you were ill?
It is a crazy lady’s world I wake up in some days.
Nothing makes sense,
and I just don’t know what to do.
I think the things you avoided.
Our world is a distant idea.
I wonder about forgiveness.
I am forty-seven now,
you won’t remember me.
Fifteen loves being high,
(it staves off the pain of the congregation
that let you down) to have
your whole mind blown apart.
It was easy to start in again.
It wasn’t just the cigarettes and the wine now,
but the crushes. How to have sex.
After honors you failed a lot of exams.
You lost weight, acted off,
so your parents,
remember your parents,
said, This Is The Deal,
This Is Your Contract,
You must pass beyond average
You must be good
We will send you back then
You want to go back
Honestly, what did you know?
That you should have died or something?
Everything was upside down and wrong,
and, and, and, and,
there was so much going on,
I can see that.
Your parents did not remember you.
Go ask your eighty-three-year-old mother
if she knew you took all those pills.
You should know.
What kind of school doesn’t call?
What kind of mother doesn’t see?
O your mother might say,
If that call ever came,
O she does that for dramatic effect
if you ignore her she will—
only brought it on herself—
the bed she made she lies—
Where are my gold earrings?
You can’t tell her anything,
she’s really confused–
no, she’s just a little confused.
Some Body’s kid dropped out,
Can you imagine that?
ignore ignore ignore the whore
My mother said.
You steep six tea bags in an eight ounce
styrofoam cup in the school cafeteria.
After rehearsal you stay up til one am
For months you only eat
coleslaw and ice cream sandwiches.
Cigarettes snuck at night, pot,
a towel under the dorm room door,
and the window open in winter.
Boys are your favorite things.
You get stoned and listen to the same album
over and over and over again,
singing along between drags and ashes,
off- key, sometimes, and so young.
You are so young.
You began fifteen all honors,
brain cells lined up to serve you.
At the end of the year that
part of you is dead,
and your suicide attempt succeeded
in separating us.
Is it so hard to watch you?
What else is there to say?
I am very sorry
That you were terribly, terribly hurt.
You deserved love, and a family
that appreciated your talents,
helped you bear the pain.
We can’t take it back,
but we can be free.
I have saved us.