Landscape Of Youth
Patellar subluxation: dislocating kneecaps
Bare legs, slight blond hairs
muddle with dirt when
she falls to the ground.
It’s the first time.
her lace anklet socks take
the grass, brush and pummel.
Chain link fence in sight.
Season unknown, under curls
the position of the sun
doesn’t matter, not like
her new Mary Jane’s.
The children laugh
when she says it’s her toes.
Her knees set the scene
for thirty years.
No one wipes her tears
that day, broken glass
on the playground
Mechanical Motions Of Popping a Kneecap Back In Place
I punch it back like woodwork,
dowels and nails, planks of pine,
without knowing what I’m doing.
The hitting, pushing, popping, it happens
fast but it’s the falling, the concrete
ground, all the staring, your heart triple
time, I feel I’m a ghost when I come out
of myself, see myself struggle, low
where the dirt is, where I’m
misunderstood, I can’t catch on, this
motion doesn’t wind that way.
she walks with knee movie in her mind, doesn’t even
have to close her eyes knee, knee, knee
critical bend action until everything dislocates
in the forest, ancient, kind nothing like a tree
brutal force to punch the kneecap back in
like hitting a child the guilt, the trauma done
it’s never the same she’s on the ground again
grown, slide down hills fall, fall, fall
down stairs carpet, tile, linoleum,
concrete, wet or dry red hot in the face
Depression On A Good Day
I take sadness in, a lover, blue ringlets,
inflated head, something I can’t pop.
Pills multiply, unhelpful friends
line aisles of shame, a store full.
Men and men and men and men
tell me what to do inside.
I lay down in my mind, let them,
I let them rough, I let them slow.
Superheroes of my body, taint
the paintings on the wall.
My gut churns with slowness,
the ways of disease, anomaly
rapid, a release, the bang
of my existence, gone they say,
a grief hangover sent from gods
down the street, they know death.
They know how to slip it to you
like a free cigarette, lean into
the flame, small and knocked
around by breeze, a count
or two, just seconds before
beside my bedside
it could be
a ghost in darkness
lacquer rubbed off
or a lion
or man again
scrape skin on mortar
this delusion breaks into me, monster and troll under the bed, stink and carry on
i no longer
look, he’s gone
a fish tail in the water
i swim laps to survive
In February, I start to think of them. Distant anxieties yet a comfort like the lilacs of my childhood.
In March, I draft the first. To my psychiatrist, a father figure, a man I could trust. I wasn’t afraid. Pill after pill, zaps my brain, side effects random, apathy like a burnt out candle.
In April, I write two. One to my oldest son, one to the younger. It’s a carousel, the colors spin and wane as the fun comes to a stop. The guilt is falling off that horse. I slip against a wet seat, rain sideways, the looks on small faces who lose a mother.
In May, I scribble out one to my mother. I start to hoard the pills, they line the paper, weak soldiers eager to drown. I imagine she won’t understand, like a paper doll, blank look, easy to fold.
In June, the hardest to write. My husband, we found each other, love lasted like a pine tree. Marriage, the needles that fall, the needles that stay. That tree grows taller each year. Eyes will no longer reflect beauty.
In July, on a hot day, I line them, I count them. I have the alcohol. Easy, like taking a pen to the heart, writing excuses with blood, sealing them in an envelope. Please scatter my ashes across the Pacific. Wear red.
Sarah Lilius lives in Arlington, VA with her two boys, husband, and cat. She’s the author of The Heart Factory (Black Cat Moon Press, 2016) and What Becomes Within (ELJ Publications, 2014). Some places her work can be found are Tinderbox, The Fem, Flapperhouse, and Drunk Monkeys. Check out her website at sarahlilius.com.