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For a minute or more, I was dead as you,

as you were technically dead

before the end was absolute—

before your brain conceded.

For a minute or more, my world was edged in blossoming dark,

engrossing, on the cusp of consent.

Blackbirds congregated, chattered ‘round my head, and

they called dibs on my vital organs—

heart, liver, kidneys, and lungs.

One expressed explicit interest in

my spleen—

keen student of human anatomy,

morbid corvid.

Then a cardinal came with your breath on its wings,

and I breathed.

I just breathed.

I breathe still…

 

© Kindra M. Austin

image: Houston Audubon

 

 

 

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Nothing scares me.

I’ve built my house around those who haunt me.

Brick and mortar rises tall—a keep.

The older I grow, so does my fortress.

Soon, I’ll be left alone to revel in my ghosts in peace.

Soon, I’ll be left alone, where I belong.

Soon, I’ll be happy in spite of mourning.

Soon, I’ll hold them, and be able to feel their weight.

Soon, we’ll throw a party in the house I built.

 

© Kindra M. Austin

(image: DeviantArt)

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Come on down from there,

if only for a quick minute.

The last time I saw you is

unsatisfactory in hindsight.

Retrospection is a bitch dressed in my skin—

I’ve become leprous.

I may not pray to God, but I do

talk to Jesus. My words

fall on dead ears.

Christ will not come to me.

And if only for a quick minute, you will not

come down from there.

*

Your mother keeps on ringing me.

I don’t answer.

Does my cruelty hurt you terribly?

Some things I just can’t do to honor you.

To answer is to satisfy Jehovah, and I do not

wish to please Him. He’d used her willing hands to

ruin you. I’ve decided that

forgiving trespasses does not heal me.

Leave the forgiving to God.

Some things are simply

unforgivable

by the human heart.

*

You were both meaner and kinder than me.

I float about the in-between,

neither better nor worser.

Mother, how could you have

ever thought yourself

lesser than me?

You were my teacher—

the one who’d showed up

drunk every day,

but a teacher nonetheless.

And I wish you’d come down from there,

if only for a quick minute.

*

Come on down from there,

if only for a quick minute.

The last time I saw you is

unsatisfactory in hindsight.

 

© Kindra M. Austin

(image: Rick Richards)

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Memories are marbles

banging against one another,

and bouncing off the walls of my skull.

I’m scrambled brains with a side of ketchup.

 

You were the same as I am.

Or I am the same as you were—

you’re dead.

 

Dead. What an ugly word.

Dead. Dead.

DEAD.

My mother is dead.

 

I’m scrambled brains with a side of ketchup, and

you’ll never again call me your baby girl. The sound of

your voice is just another marble…

 

© Kindra M. Austin

 

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Thinking about it now, I’m not the least bit

sorry for the hateful shit I’d said to you

eleventy years ago, when I was a kid

and you fucking knew better.

I rescind my apologies.

Not that my sorries ever meant a good

goddamn to you, anyway—

they were ever only as true as your own,

anyway.

Insincerity: a common factor.

 

No, that’s not true…the truth is complex.

 

I wish I hadn’t apologized so much for defending myself

against you.

And I wish you hadn’t rolled over so easily whenever

I called you out. I wish you’d properly raged against

the reasons you were the way you were. Sure,

you’d spoken of the ghosts that breathed inside of you—

warned me of them—but never did you

exorcise them. Never did you make them scream in terror.

 

Not that your armor went unused. You’d fought your best all your life…

 

I am greater than you had ever hoped to be. I’ve welded your chainmail

to my own, and I am running into battle with your heart sewn into my banner.

Mother mine, I know your truths; yours are mine, and I will defend them,

always.

 

I will make your ghosts and mine scream in terror.

 

© Kindra M. Austin

 

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Every day it does reign, a

perpetual decrescendo—

melancholic melody made for only

me.

 

Deluge of disquiet

comprises choral pessimists

repeating in my head.

Depressionist

percussionist

beats heart that’s damn near dead.

Dirges designed for only

me.

 

But!

Though it does reign—my

melancholic melody—I

seek the one to share

an umbrella.

 

© Kindra M. Austin

(image: Pinterest)

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I dreamt I was miniature, traveling through a labyrinthine trailer park diseased with taupe colored muck, and flip-flopping mudskippers; pectoral fins glimmered in waves, despite the sunless, flat grey ceiling of a sky. My skin screamed at the loathsome goby touch, and my mouse heart beat savagely against its cage. Panic drove my legs, and then I was airborne, peddling.

I just knew I’d make it home.

Touching down in a blue sky town dressed in purple hued Victorian architecture, my height increased with every footstep; I kept growing until I reached 5 feet, 6 ¾ inches. I walked past a liquor store that also sold Native American art, and was reminded of you. The booze bottles displayed in the front window sparkled in the sunlight like your eyes did, once upon a time in another plane of reality.

Fade out…

Fade in…

I attend an outdoor Thanksgiving dinner. The grass is long, soft, and deep green—so lovely beneath my bare feet. A long table is sat atop a small hill; a plump, silver haired woman wearing a powder blue house dress is arranging place settings. I see your name card. Your plate has been set upside down, and your napkin, folded, placed at the left. There are no utensils, or chalice set for you.

Dead mothers don’t dine.

 

© Kindra M. Austin

(image: Rooster Magazine)

 

 

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Fuck grocery store etiquette.

Tears for Fears tells me to shout, so I let it all out

in front of the dairy case while inspecting my perfection—

mourning after reflection—in the fingerprinted glass.

My cheeks are hollow

but my gut is bloated

from too much diet soda (I’m watching my figure) and vodka.

 

In front of the dairy case, blocking access to the skim milk,

I let it all out,

and I like the way

my pretty mouth contorts

into a beastly maw

when I cry.

 

© Kindra M. Austin

 

B & W

I dreamt you were a naked doll, sized true-to-life. You were assembled like the art manikin I use for sketching, only your head was your actual head—your face was arranged in a placid expression. A random little girl had fished you out of a cold river, and I snatched you from her greedy arms as she was celebrating her catch.

“She’s too big for you,” I cried. Cradling you, I carried you away from the shore lowly lit by a dull sun, and into the damp grey woods. I was chased by faceless men who wanted you, and I heard the little girl lamenting. “Fuck you! She’s mine,” I kept yelling. “You can’t have my mother!”

Then you were alive, penned in a clearing. You were dressed in a red shirt, and faded blue jeans. I couldn’t make out the silent words rushing from your mouth. I could only pay attention to the man with a sword. You were murdered in front of me. I saw the long blade enter you through your back—through your thoracic spine.

The death scene repeated like cruelly spliced film. I watched your face fade away and reappear again and again, for an immeasurable space of time, until the phone began to ring.

Stood in the driveway of our house in Lapeer, I kicked at the loose stones, waiting for the ringing to stop.

“It’s for you,” said someone lounging in the bed of a pick-up truck. An unrecognizable guy with long, dirty blond hair. I took the tan receiver, and pressed it against my aching head.

“Mom.” I knew it was you. And I knew you were dead. I know you are dead. “I love you. I miss you so much, Mom.”

There was a long, crackling silence. Then you said, “I think of you all the time.”

 

(image: Freepik)