The expanse of the ocean fills my soul.
From its deepest indigos to the royal blues gently cloaking its surface.
A refuge and a welcoming prison from the world:
trusting and familiar,
endless and finite.
Slipping farther under, I struggle to stay afloat.
A friend no more?
I offer a gurgled cry to the Sun.
“Coax these waters to join you in the heavens,” I plead.
The dormant floors unsettle;
waters swirl in Charybdis-proportion.
Deeper and deeper I sink into oblivion.
Faster, with more intensity, the waves rage on.
I shout to the Sun.
Begging for mercy to be shown.
Flung onto a bed of mud, sand, and kelp,
I lie there motionless.
Water rushes in;
darkness quickly envelopes me.
I look wearily to the Sun, and offer a muted scream.
Forced to ponder and rededicate.
Deeper must I sink.
Only my spirit is content.
Redemption will come another day.
She writhed with pain beneath the once-loving brute, whose eyes were now glossed with mania.
His perfectly sculpted figure, laced with sweat and grit from the day’s work at the coal mine, moved wildly back and forth.
The rag he fastened around her mouth loosened its hold, bringing her muffled groans and whimpers to sustained, bone-chilling shrieks.
Without missing a beat, he lunged his head onto her hers, prompting two streams of blood to flow from her nose. They soon followed the curves of her full, chapped lip, reuniting at the dimple of her chin and continued down her damp, bruised neck.
More tears and tributaries of blood flowed in steady streams. It seemed to give the man she vowed her all to more reason to continue ravaging her insides.
A slight turn of her head revealed the time: 8:19. She spotted a sliver of a cool, wintry moonlight peaking through the drab, golden curtains. His sawed-off shotgun rested upright at the meeting of two walls. For a moment she lost herself in her thoughts, even amid the moist huffing of her one and only.
His rhythmic jabbing began to slow in tempo, bringing her a wave of relief. His final two thrusts made her face cringe with the pain of a thousand broken hearts.
Still grunting, he pulled away from her and lowered his head to take stock of his fleshy dagger. It hung there, limp and covered in a haunting mixture of blood and semen.
Body in shock, she lied there…only able to muster shallow breaths in his presence. Blood still seeped from her wounds. Her thighs trembled enough for the bed’s thin metal frame to lightly rap against the wall.
He took a final survey of his destruction and offered an amber-colored smirk before exiting to the bathroom.
She managed to turn her head toward the clock again: 8:23. The sliver of light now waxed and waned in varying wedges. The curtain danced prudently from a gust created by his handling of the bathroom door. She refocused her attention to the sawed-off shotgun.
The openings of its double barrel seemed to stare menacingly into the darkness. She looked up in the direction of its glare and saw what looked like a message inscribed on the wall. She squinted her eyes to make out what it said, to no avail.
She turned her head forward. The water beating against the plastic shower curtain assured her of his preoccupation. She firmly closed her eyes and attempted to peel her 130-pound frame from the linen-lined site of her desecration. Veins bloomed at her temples as she fought to divorce herself from the devastation. She pulled herself upright against the head of the bed, and snatched a quadrant of the sheet to carefully wipe away his rage. A creak of the floor prompted her glance back at the bathroom door. The water continued to beat against the shower curtain, so she returned to her restorative task.
Soon after, she carefully swung her legs to face the old-spirited curtains and glimmer of moonlight. She ascended to her feet with the utmost regard, careful not to make too much noise. She hobbled onto her legs and limped forward. The message inscribed onto the wall now drew her in, giving her strength and straightening with each step.
“Grace!” he called, through the pellets of water. “Go’n to the kitch’n and fix me somethin’ to eat!”
She ignored the command and persevered to the wall.
“GRACE! Y’hea me, na?!” The guttural belting shook nothing within her.
The water ceased to patter and the metal rings sang a “Shing!” as they slid across the curtain rod.
She reached the wall and leaned against it for balance, before raising her shaky hands to feel the letters carved hastily into the wall. It was a motto that read, “OWN YOURSELF.”
The moonlight streaked her face, now crusted in swirls of blood, sweat, and salt left from her tears. Using the wall to steady herself, she slowly stooped to the grab the gun. She alighted with that small harbor of power nestled between her hands.
He flung open the bathroom door, clad only in a towel, translucent from many years of wear.
“Goddammit, GRACE! Don’t’cha hear me talk—”
She fired the gun, not fully aware of her mark.
The puff of smoke cleared and there he lied in a pool of richly red blood. He heaved to take in what air his lungs could hold, all the while uttering unintelligible syllables.
Grace let the gun drop to the floor and looked on at his parting with life…and the birth of her freedom.
“Nature’s first green is gold,
Her hardest hue to hold.
Her early leaf’s a flower;
But only so an hour.
Then leaf subsides to leaf.
So Eden sank to grief,
So dawn goes down to day.
Nothing gold can stay.”
It has been 23 days since my mother passed. It has been 24 days since I heard her voice, as fashioned in real-time. I saved some of the messages she left on my voicemail. I can’t yet bring myself to delete them. Though a disembodied voice, it is still hers. Those sounds made by the intricate dance of her vocal chords, tongue, and lips are still hers. Now lost to a mortal’s inevitable fate, that voice and its warmth and storied raspiness constantly occupies my mind.
The image of her, both before and after sickness took firm hold of her body, pulses steady behind my eyes. I can’t shake it from any corner of my mental space. Truth is, I don’t want to. I never want to. I thought I had more time. More time to share in laughter, more time to love and hug, more time to argue, more time to disagree, more time to exchange witty remarks, more time to sing and share in a love for God, more time to live…with her as my support, my friend, and most importantly, my mother.
I should have done more. I could have done more. But, I didn’t. I feel like I failed her as a son. Once back from school, I played the part of “Perfect Son,” until being on the rickety-planked stage and in the blinding, burning spotlight became too much of a burden. I got frustrated with my stagnancy and undertaking of a life of complicity and mediocrity. Then, I projected that. Onto Mama, onto others, but mostly, I regret doing it to her.
Instead of uplifting, I destroyed—spirits, positive moods, progress. I wanted her, my biggest supporter, to feel what I felt. To know my pain. But, why? Did the Devil get into me? Had someone pushed me past the edge? Was I abandoned by family and friends? No, no, and no. I still know not the true reason for my actions, but I did it. Now, I’m drowning in an ocean of guilt, barely bobbing to the surface for a breath of abounding forgiveness.
Today, I visited my former high school’s library (which is where I teach now, coincidentally). The librarian and other administrators decided to take a more modern approach to the media center and introduce a digital library where students are able to request e-books for a specified period of time. Because of this decision, they’re selling most of the books that once sat as undisturbed pedestals for trophy-size dust bunnies. Everything sold for just a buck.
I browsed the boxes, looking for an older, just-tattered-and-worn-enough book, with no particular genre in mind. The one thing I did manage to be mindful of was the sole dollar bill that was nestled between the folds of my wallet. So, I decided to document, via photo, titles that piqued my interest. I walked slowly, carefully inspecting each box for a literary steal, and one spine caught my eye—Robert Frost’s The Road Not Taken. Truthfully, I snatched up the book mainly because of his affiliation with my alma mater, but laying claim to it felt more than right. I surmised that the book’s contents held a remedy to my pain, an answer to my questions, a spiritual balm of Gileadan proportion.
I firmly grasped its smooth, green cloth covers, not knowing that it, in fact, would help me heal. It’s helping me to remember and to cherish and to not forget, but forgo the torment I’ve created for myself. It’s helping me to see beyond and hear within, the things that once made me whole. It’s helping to resurrect a portion of me I thought I’d murdered and tossed to roaring waves to settle on the seafloor. It’s helping me to love and forgive and treasure my mother and her legacy and her eternal spirit.
Nothing gold can stay for long, for it is forever in demand. I must now share my Gold with the earth and the heavens and the cosmic dust that playfully twinkles in the night skies.
We are fleeting, restless spirits begging to be released to a World of which we still wonder and ponder. This life, this moment is not Home. It is comfortable and safe and familiar, but it is not Home. Home dwells in the heart, but only our departures from this life can make that Home, permanent.
Ma, I love you. Welcome to the fullness of my heart. Welcome Home.
Hey y’all! So, this blog, “The Gombo Scholar,” will gradually return to its original intent—written reflections on topics I deem important or relevant to my holistic development. The occasional politically-oriented visual may appear, but for the most part, I’ll be returning to writing/reporting/incoherent ruminations.
I’ve decided to start another blog at mitrodo.tumblr.com (“MITRODO” is simply an amalgam of my full name, [Mi]chelle [Tro]y [Do]mingue II, in case you were wondering). MITRODO will largely feature photography and video I encounter. Follow me there, here, or at both sites!
That’s all for now.