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Contemplating My Lost Daughter

Janna Vought is the author of the upcoming Evolution of Cocoons: A Mother’s Journey into Mental Illness and Autism, her memoir about raising her daughter who suffers from Bipolar I and Asperger’s Syndrome. Evolution of Cocoons will release Fall 2013. 

 

I built her from dust,

a thousand wishes

crushed, darkness crumbling

light’s edges. I stood still    silent

watched her burn alive in a cloud

of fire and shadows, body tattooed

with strands of flames.  Nothing exists

beyond smoke and haze. I wake in her

rubble, sift through her remains:

lace anklets     abandoned

hopes     Winnie the Pooh    

twisted girder. Mourn collapsed

buildings in her forsaken

city, iron gates secured, locked away

from me forever.

 

Fingers expand beyond

a mother’s grasp. It’s been years

since she spoke my  name,

her dead eyes tucked inside

thoughtless hollows. Slumber in Lithium

dreams, dance in empty arms

of space. What does she say,

this stranger?  Her language muddled

and thick as a silted river bed.

I yell. She doesn’t listen     lost

in a daze. Swing a chain

above her head, snap it

across her sternum;

she feels     nothing.

 

I could paint her

in still life. Moments of splendor

exist inside my memory,

days before she vanished

like a baby stolen in the night.

Relics of her early days

fill scrapbooks, face etched

onto my mind—sweet precious girl.

Now it’s all arguments

and negotiations. Once she dwelled

in light; she now prefers

crevices, basements, darkened

corridors. She doesn’t care,

does what she wants: kicks

the dog, slams her fists into empty

air, calls me a liar.

I watched her soul sucked

from her like curtains pulled

through an open window.

I gave birth to her murder    miracle

of reproduction corrupted

by a noxious stain. 

 

I don’t sleep.

Panic burrows into me

like a parasite searching

for blood. When I take

a shower, or surface from sleep’s

shallows, I wonder: will she fracture,

darker one coming to destroy

me? Does she wait, a jaguar

ready to slay her prey? Fear

her wails thundering deep

into the night.  Hide the pistol

and the butter knives.

 

Turn her loose,

but she needs to feed.

It is tiresome, so tiresome.

I need a break from endless

pain—reprieve. Limp on, her presence

a pebble in my shoe, blood-

shod     blind     barren     delirious

with fatigue. Years layer.

Watch her fade like color drains

from winter’s redefined trees,

sharp brown limbs skewer crumpled

bodies. Glass tears shatter; I loved her

so long. Sobs shine from my torso, black

and pulsing light illuminates

thick air, glare long unseen

by her sick eyes.  Who

can save her? She slipped

through my grasp into a deep

green sea, helpless    bone bare.

 

Gaze down a lonesome road

into a life I thought I was missing,

where I never walk through

quicksand or breathe ash

and fire. I envy beauty

of lives tucked inside rooms

undisturbed by winged shadows.

Angels enter in lilacs

fading, the last moment

of night before dawn, in screams of sacred

rage of a mother     dying.

I could have loved

my daughter.

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I graduated summa cum laude from American Public University in May of 2011 with a Bachelor’s in English, where I was a member of several honor societies including Golden Key and Delta Epsilon Tau. Subsequently, I graduated in December 2012 from Linde… Read More

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