Sunday, July 7, 2013


When I was in the fourth grade,
I had to go to school with a brand new,
black and blue accessory.
A big fat lip.

Teachers and pupils alike
would cock their heads to one side and ask,
“what happened to you? Why is your lip bruised?”

Oh nothing, I would say.
I fell off my bike.
I had a crazy dream about a magic carpet
and fell out the top bunk.
I fought the school bully and won,
and she was only able to swing one punch
before I creamed her.
I was out late at light wrestling wolves in my backyard
after a night of running toward the moon
and howling at Orion's belt.
I saved a family of drowning deer by stretching my body
across a raging river,
and those deer weren't very careful with their feet.

I climbed Everest in a hailstorm,
The turbulence in my rocket ship to the moon was pretty rough,
I lent my face to a group of bees
who only knew how to dance on lips,

God Himself reached down from the heavens,
to kiss me right on the mouth,
forgetting how small I was compared to Him.

What really happened to my black and blue lip
in the fourth grade?

My tiny freckled body was just at the wrong place,
at the wrong time
like too often children are,
and my own mother bounced my face off a sliding glass window.

Her bony and sleepy fingers on the back of my neck,
was burning hot,
made me feel like a baby calf being branded.
And after my teeth met glass,
and I couldn't believe the blood pooling in the palm of my hand,
was mine.

But I know there was nothing harder,
than trying to raise a son and three daughters
when your husband is your own personal prison warden.
See, my father loved my mother
like he loved a punching bag.

Her heart was his dartboard,
and after so many darts,
you just can't feel your heart anymore.

And you hurt the ones you love,
no matter how helpless.

I know how that goes, momma.
By now I'm an expert.
I know that if hearts really did break when they were broken,
mine would be gun powder.

And yours might be flour.
And our guns and cupcakes were loud,
but my father's anger was louder.


I forgive you.

Because every punch is a poem,
and every poem is reprieve
and every reprieve is forgiveness.
And sometimes words from a nine year old girl with a fat lip
are heavier than a dying star.
But we are not dead yet,
so don't lay down like you are.


Shine like Andromeda just got a new haircut,
and is dancing to salsa music and sipping wine
out of the big dipper.

Shine like you just got your braces off.
Shine like you have enough rocket fuel to reach to the moon,
and you still got more.
Shine like the cute girl in class just got a locker assigned next to yours.

Shine like you finally realize you don't have to hide your scars,
or your cellulite
or your pubic hair.

But, don't shine like the fireworks on the fourth of July,
shine like the fireflies
who were still not embarrassed to light up among them.

Shine like you have no where left to go.

Because we will always wrestle wolves in the night.
And you will always be my mother,
and I know we were never meant to save each other,
but the bees will dance on our lips,
and we will always have a way of seeing home
like we were looking at it from the moon.

Our poems are forgiveness,
and my father is a different story,
but, mom, I forgive you.


  1. Thank you.

    Thank you for writing this. Thank you for your willingness to share. Thank you for...just thank you, Erica.

  2. I love everything you write. I'm always excited to see a new post. Indeed, thank you. This is stunning.

  3. I think about this poem seriously all the time. I can't get it out of my head. I don't want to.