Two Poems by Juliet Escoria

FLAME WAR

Everyone is talking about witch hunts
like they’re a bad thing
but I think
it could be fun.
If they had some
maybe I could finally know
how other people looked at me.
Like if they thought I was scary.
Because if it were my choice
I would totally burn myself.
Getting tied up on a pole seems sexy
and as I burned
I could pretend
I was offering myself
up to God.

 

CONTEMPORARY GUILT

when i went home
the first time
after going off to get married
my mother begged me: please don’t have a baby.

here were her reasons:
     1) it would have problems
     2) i have problems
     3) my husband has problems
     4) all the problems would be parts of a real disaster and she wouldn’t be able to deal
so essentially she’d have to disown me

predictably, i got mad and
stormed off to what used to be my bedroom.

which is the place where
i tried to
kill myself
four times
half a lifetime before.

in the morning, she apologized
– kind of –
asking if i understood what she meant
that she was speaking
out of love but also fear.
she told me there were things
she never told me
because she had to pretend to be strong.
i think that was when i was supposed to ask
about the things i never knew
but i failed to.

a few days later, i asked her when she knew
that i’d turn out “okay”—
eighteen, twenty-two, twenty-five?
but she was honest
and said it didn’t come until i was
living in new york,
two years sober.
that she used to watch the wine bottles pile up
my skin yellow
teeth darken
and that smell.

i guess that’s a long time to be
worried
that your daughter is going
to die.

 

 

Juliet Escoria is the author of Black Cloud (CCM 2014). She is from Southern California but lives (improbably) in West Virginia. julietescoria.com