i am who i am


I don’t have a name. I don’t know what to do. I am not the person I used to be.

She’s still in there, a small feral thing who doesn’t like to be touched. I feel her: her scabby scalp, her scattered thoughts. I feel me too: her mother, finally come from the future in a spaceship to rescue her. The spaceship is red, with seven stars plastered to its front. If flies through the razored corn fields where the turkeys pick at what’s left over.

I am picking at what’s left over. I am a red spaceship, screaming through the fields.

Stay there. Stay right there. I’m coming.

Once I built a time machine, and hung onto it as it pulled me through the past. I ended up in the wrong place. I felt sick, but so very alive. Burning myself up with love. I met myself in the street near the house where I grew up. But I was twelve, not nine.

Now it makes sense: Nine was too shell-shocked to call me. At the time, though, all I could think was “I missed her. I am in the wrong place.” Even so, I pulled Twelve into my arms. And as I did, I remembered it from the other end: being pressed against a woman whose body was like my mother’s. Who was not my mother. She never would have held me like that.

Where are you? Don’t go anywhere. I am coming.

You didn’t deserve it, then or now.

I’m coming in my screaming red spaceship. It’s not the ship that’s screaming. It’s me. I am the engine. I am the rocket and the fuel.

I am not the person I used to be. She died of shame and loneliness in the arms of the big shrub outside her bedroom window. She rests in cold and dark.

And when I find her, she won’t come to me like Twelve did. She’ll kick and bite and scratch. Good. She should be angry. What is love to her, when the people who should have protected her failed her so completely?

Stay there, beastie. I am coming.

I am not the person I used to be. I can do this. I have been training all my life, since before I was that rough little beastie hiding in the bush outside the bedroom window. I have been training all my life to pull this screaming red fire truck.

The bush outside the window was dead and scratchy on the inside, but outside it bristled with life and leaf. It planted the seed in my buttery young flesh. Now I am old. Dead and scratchy on the outside. Bristling inside with life and leaf. A burning bush.

I am not the person I used to be. Call me Mother Bear.

Stay right there. I am coming.

Easy for her not to move. She is frozen, a deer in the headlights.

I don’t have a name. Call me Mommy. Nobody’s ever done that, but you could.

Five years ago I knelt on the floor of my studio and screamed as I put the nails in the time machine. As if the time machine were my dead child lying on the floor.

It was my dead child on the floor. She died of shame and loneliness.

I screamed, and every time I touched her cold still body I nearly threw up.

It wasn’t her fault. She didn’t deserve it, then or now. She has a light and a filter. She’s wearing boots. She knows what she knows.

Who might she have been, if she had felt loved?

I am not the person I used to be. I have felt loved. I have felt some Dark Lady screaming through the night, into my very bones.

I said I wasn’t going to write about The Crazy, but here I am. Writing about it from Day One. So be it. The Crazy saved me.

It’s time to own the part of me that’s beyond names. The part that Is Who She Is. Great Mother.

Mother of Pearl. Pearl: what becomes of sand in the oyster. Sand in its lungs and heart and mouth. Layer upon layer of screams, polished smooth. But if you test it with your teeth, you’ll find just enough grit to tell you it’s Real.