Updated: Oct 10, 2021
There are lakes in my ears. Big, wet, salty ones with mermaids that sing lullabies tonight. Andromeda dances in wrinkled waves that curve and twist and tangle. Tuck me in real tight, she says, and I’ll ride high away, away. I’ve got ocean water swimming in my brain! My mind sways like a buoy in the night. Here’s land, they say. Here’s life. But I’ve got sunken ships to salvage on the cold of the ocean floor.
I found me in your arms those nights. And the memories of you I pick like sea glass in the sand. You’re quite worn you know, and blue too. And you’re scattered in ripples of sand and madness. You must be mad. Oh god, I’m mad! We’re the same. Oh fuck, we’re just the same. Dear Mother, you’ve got cold hands like me.
No one ever loved a workaholic like me. You with your OCD scrubbing surfaces till their edges were worn away. Dad was a shark, you know. I clung to his fin during summer pool parties when he dove down in the deep end. But his razor sharp edges you’ve worn away. DON’T TRACK DIRT IN! GO WASH YOUR HANDS! DON’T LET THAT LAUNDRY TOUCH THE FLOOR! Oh, but we never did. All us kids, we tip-toed on furniture because the floorboards had sharks lurking under them. Ten years of pirate play, empty paper towel rolls for telescopes, and all that scrubbing of floorboards.
Who knew floorboards collected tears so well? I discovered that later on.
You ran a tight ship, you know. So I swept the floor with my head hanging low, so low my hair brushed dirt from the cracks. I was looking for loose change, old dust, cleaning out the remnants of you. I found a stray tooth, you know. I had it locked away in a plastic pink treasure chest from that time I fell from the playground. You remember—I was six. I didn’t cry. You were so proud when the nurse told you so.
Oh Mother, you’ve got cold hands like me. I remember it at 3 am when you’re roaming the house looking for scattered broken rubble. Your bones creak when you walk. You make floorboards creak. You’re a storm. You’re a hurricane! And this old home of ours is about to break and leave us all washed up on street corners. It’s okay though, I like street corners, and I really don’t mind cold hands either. I’ve washed them twice. No, three times at least! And no, not in the kitchen sink, I promise.
Instead I washed them like I do every night stretched over floorboards. I lean my weary head out off the edge of my bed and drain my sorrows off this floating raft. There are no sharks, you’ve made it so. No rough edges to splinter our feet anymore. Instead there’s an ocean in my brain. And the water—it spills out tonight, catches in my ears as I lay down to sleep. I do love the sound of the ocean at least. And those creaking floorboards—I pretend I don’t hear them as you pass by like that looming storm.