(or invitation to a fall)
By Angela D. Odom
To my mother and my brother
I give these words,
It is time for the silence in my heart
to be heard.
You and I have been apart
for many years.
In this time,
I have shed many tears.
In this painful season
I have sought to find the reason
for your hurled abuse.
Was my being a lesbian really the excuse?
Or is the answer, really,
that you never loved me?
What was that really about
when after I moved out,
was it because you disapproved?
is that why, to another state,
you quietly moved?
I remember the day I received the call,
My brother's invitation to a fall.
I did not know the fall would be my own
until I walked into the place I once called home.
I walked into a house left empty
rid of all visible signs of me.
And, you will be pleased to know he filled the void
by handing me several Polaroids
of the house where you live anew,
and oh, by the way, he said,
she wants nothing to do with you.
And I wondered still why I was not told
of your plans to move away so cold.
I had just talked with him a few weeks prior
there was no mention of your desire.
You played the game of pretend
and set me up like a candle in the wind.
I could stake no claim
on my newfound pain.
I felt hollow to the core
I couldn't feel anymore.
While placing one foot in front of the other
Eliminating words of relations
Then it occurred to me one day
shortly after I unwillingly, visited you in L.A.
that maybe, just maybe, you did not love me anyway.
Up welled the words spoken long ago,
words leading me to what I now know.
The lips that could have said I love you,
chose to say it makes me sick to look at you.
Words spoken because I chose not to have a child
by a man who made your anger wild.
The same man I continued to see
because we both made a decision about our baby.
We both suffered a lost
and both realized we could never pay the cost.
You too, helped with this decision
then turned to create this division
between you and me.
You said the words so hatefully.
So this could not be the score
I can certainly reach back and find more.
I can find plenty to say . . .
no, the issue is not about me being gay.
The issue began at 29
when your husband and children were doing fine
and then he died and
you found herself tied.
You inherited the financial responsibility
of taking care of my brother and me.
I became a problem, this I'll admit,
there are things in my childhood I cannot forget.
Incest was one
this my cousin had done.
Then at 13 I was almost raped
by two boys I hardly knew,
I thank God for my escape.
I was thrown hard to the floor
I thought I was dreaming
when suddenly it occurred to me to start screaming.
They let me go and as I ran to the door
one boy kicked me saying
don't bring your ass back here no more.
Do you think this is something a child can ignore.
At thirteen I experienced something from a friend
something that caused our friendship to end.
She set me up in a house up the street
and told me there was someone there I should meet.
What I found was something else instead,
I found a man and a child in bed.
Then I knew beyond a doubt
I needed to quickly get out.
When I thought I had a good jump
this man viciously grabbed my rump.
I got away and ran home
and there I sat, alone.
I had no one to tell
what had befell me.
I had no one to share
in my agony.
These crimes, realize
kept me victimized,
which is why I appeared humble and meek
the very thing you considered weak.
The rage that grew
the hostility too
was because of my lack
my ability to fight back.
You never taught me that.
You victimized me too
with what you chose to do.
You never knew
what I had been through.
While you were in school
or away at work,
ignorance wanted a fool
evil wanted to lurk.
I fought against them
and fought against the whim
to run wild in the street
to accept defeat.
When I thought you'd be proud
you shouted aloud
I made you sick to look at,
and you ran off and did that?
Then you told me I was a boy,
never said I brought you joy.
You said you wished I were dead
that did wonders for my head.
Then you tore out my heart
and you ripped it apart.
I looked up to you too,
It should be I who hate you.
But I will walk away from this tragedy
to seek some peace, some sanity.
I will never be able to trust you two again
not this candle you left to burn in the wind.
In response to what you never knew
I have the ability to make it through.
And please, don't call to tell me of your bad dreams.
They are all about me it seems.
Don't call to tell me about the past
of when you were in Chicago last,
you didn't come by . . .
and I really don't care why.
I need to be free
of your misplaced hostility.
I need to be free
to be the best I can be.
So don't call dear family of mine.
Rest assured, I am doing quite fine.
copyright 1989 Angela D. Odom