Disorderly Thoughts

Mother’s Light (‘Open Windows’ Waterloo Press, 2019)

Inspired by Heaney’s ‘Personal Helicon’
Disorderly Thoughts

I remember shouting down a stairwell.
Wild and unhinged things would answer back.
Siblings crazed with the power of older children.
Ma’s pot lids cymbaling the pied kitchen walls,

half-green as closely-guarded envy,
half-pink as a girl half-caught in gender’s chains. 
The possibility of falling warned me,
hold on to the upstairs rails.

I recall jumping, unafraid flailing, 
my feet aloft in quickened air.
Down fifteen jagged, jutting steps
it was a mighty arc – or death!

I’d land clean. On both feet.
No gymnast’s extra step off beam,
the first thing in my life done well,
I lived for jumping after that.

I recall jumping
but were the jumps imagined? real?
One thing which happened for certain, I feel,
Pa seemed far when needed close,

I did not see his bouts with ghosts, beyond 
our door. The few that won were nothing to 
the thousands more. And was his drink or 
were my jumps the triggers of his violence? 

And is it real or costume blood 
deep in the downstairs carpet? 
False memories, true memories,
both call from the bottom of stairwells.

The future, silent, behind them.

Merrie Joy Williams (c) 2019