By J. Wilson Parrish
Its inception was insidious,
this fading into nothingness when
even the inner lights began to flicker and dim.
The core of my hypervigilance
gave the inner shield its weight.
Hide and she won’t find you,
it whispered .
She always found me.
There were times when my light was strong enough to transfigure the shield into a
that would unravel during those brief moments
of sunlight and safety.
as the weakening beam
of my suffering was released
to play among the dust motes.
I watched as they danced together before those tall, gothic,
The smells of ink, leather bindings and glue were the sentinels
for my grief and fear.
There was no permanent hiding place real or imagined,
save between the pages of the books, the stacks of
that great library,
my fear and shame were filed within the cards of that Dewey Decimal System.
My heart knew it as nonfiction but
it was too often sealed in the minds of the others
as a perma-fiction file.
It never mattered that that particular file name could not exist,
such was my reality for I could not either, not really.
The sentinels were always broached and
we would begin again, she and I.
This repetition fused the fear to my flesh
and its fibers melted into my bones
and my fading was resumed.
For a time,
my face remained discernible if one
were to closely look,
but they rarely did.
Their belief was suspended in accolades of
community service and floated
within the tepid depths of the charitable tea.
Such a marvel of patience
with such a clumsy, clumsy little girl!
Their words and insinuation hung limp
against the broken bones and broken heart
within the slowly fading light.
I find myself moving in and out of
my fractured existence like
a mechanical cat,
demanding of attention but remote in my need.
My light has continued to flicker and dim,
at times extinguished
within the darkness of self-doubt and loathing.
But there are other rare days when the pen in my hand or the smell of the ink will incite
that electrical pulse and shiver,
and I can feel it racing and sparking along my conduits in hope
I wait and watch,
I bat the words about and
tangle the sentences across the page like string.
I listen for the static to hiss and clear,
watching for the turn of a head as the clarity and strength of my voice reaches
just one solid ear,
for the mechanics to finally whir and hum with connection
I feel the bumps and the shoves of them as
they weave around me and through me and over me,
blind and deaf to my presence.
I arch my back and stretch and circle,
settling in to my patch of sun,
warm as I watch the dust motes continue their dance
within my invisibility.
J. Wilson Parrish is a writer and a poet, a collector of books, and an artist who paints in flowers and cookie dough. She lives in Michigan with her two daughters and an assortment of rescued animals.
Editor: Dana Gornall