Self Inventory

March 28, 2009 at 6:38 am (Poetry, RefleXions)



My mirror tells the truth.
I like it. 
I have to face the “me” I’d pushed aside, 
Recreating a new self built on the ashes of the old.
I remember not being broken,
being proud,
being fearless enough to be always gentle and kind,
when smiles and music blended and ruled,
dating someone for four years thinking it was forever,
thinking I knew the ways of the world.
Now humbled and beaten down,  
I fail. I fall. I get up and try it again.
But there’s no one there to meet me.
No one there to hold out their hand.
For years, I walked in circles, a Helter-Skelter rut always one step behind myself,
Like a tiger who blindly chases its own tail,
So proud to have caught what it chased at last
Only to find pain in the taste of blood in its mouth.
My blood: thick and brackish, filled with salt and pesticide.
I finally, and at least, realize it was a worn down circle path.
I can see beyond the milk carton I was in.
So erased that I wasn’t even pictured on its sides.
The mountain in the far distance
Is as appealing as it is indifferent
I’ve never reached out.
I don’t know how to let go of my hold on the rocks.
My hands and feet bleed from the climb.
I am a forever student so my attempts are clumsy, hesitant.
There is no one to teach me
Only books and old thirty-three and a thirds on vinyl.
Only traditions and a heritage of gentleness left over
From social systems that crumbled and turned to dust
Long before I was born. 
I am boring, I admit. I cut away the games
Before the rest of me was taken away.
The dainty monster within me died a horrible death.
I am not owed the world, I am simply rebuilding myself
From pieces I’m still finding
Abandoned on the floor.
Like everyone, my pages are filled
With my own story.
It is me inside this skin.
Read my story or don’t,
But don’t assume to know it.
Each of us, no matter how famous or forgotten, is our own story
Inside our own brain, creased with private memories, private thoughts
A private us that no picture shows, that no private investigator could uncover.
Like it or not, indifferent or not,
You are peripheral to everyone,  
No matter how much you are loved,  
No matter how many times we desperately try to fuck ourselves into oneness
      with someone else or multitudes of others.
No matter how many times we yell at each other
      or confide in each other’s ear,
Each of us indeed enters and exits life’s stage alone.
Don’t pretend you haven’t done your own strutting upon it.
As I have, as we all have.
Like homage to the absurd spaghetti god
The holy stain from the holy sauce
Was always there as a reminder that I was humbly bowed before you.
My china broken. My youth broken. My world broken.
Next to the stain, the hole from a knife blade
            that took any pretense away. 
“Leave and you die,” you yelled over and over, and I knew it to be true.
Only a woman
Only a wife
Only a mother
Only a mistress and maid.
Only a “slit bottom”.
No matter how many “A”s I could make
(“It’s not real life”)
Or chess games I could win
(“It’s just a board game”)
No matter how well I played Rachmaninoff
(“What good is music”)
No matter how many years
I could calmly sit at a board meeting
Full of purpose and aplomb;
The promoted woman 
In a room of tailored suits,
The way their ties reminded them they were civilized men
My skirt reminding me of my husband’s taunts.
I would never be more than his
Never enough in this world designed, made, and run by men,
“Only a slit bottom bitch”
Too much the hot house plant to plow the fields
As his mother had
Too everything
And always nothing.
But an object of twisted love
And the protector of the children.
I meant to leave, I meant to leave!
(“You better hide under a dark rock.
 I’ll find you and take the children.
                        You’ll never see them again.”)
There are no more lies to tell myself
It was not alright to be the whore and the slave
‘till death do us part and the children are grown enough
            to tell their Daddy no,
                                    and not to listen to his lies.
The antithesis of self-absorption.
Nothing so grandiose as a martyred lamb
Or even a damsel in distress.
Just a simple doormat. A slave and nothing more.
I’ll fly a freak flag if it’s really necessary,
But I’m one of countless writers, artists and musicians.
We all know ourselves to be different
We all know the pain
And I’m not in hiding anymore.
I’m in semi-isolated peace and contentment.
I’m retired from the fight. Not necessarily a whole remade self,
But not suffering narcissism, not clueless.
Perhaps too clued. Trying to regain enough self.
Angry that I let myself become what I am:
What’s left of someone who was a good person.
The backbone of my ancestors calls out encouragement.
And I listen to every sound from the mountain.
I’m a great believer in sound.
I watch every change of season, every fallen leaf.
I applaud successes. I cry at the pain. I meditate. I wish
     to find some humbleness left behind your wise wall.
I write, I bleed, I breathe, I care, and I love.
The mirror doesn’t lie.
If I’ve learned nothing else in my life
I’ve learned you can never know the life of someone else
       By what you see, or hear, or read.
             Believe it, there are well hidden stories
Behind the most public and most private lives.
It’s not for me to question yours.
It’s not for anyone to assume they know mine.


© 2009 C. Harter Amos


  1. 02face said,

    i really liked VII
    i wrote a poem too

    keep up the good work

  2. Paul said,

    A masterwork, Mimi. So many wonderful things in it, I couldn’t begin to list them. It is one of those landamrk poems I think. Superb.

  3. 02face said,

    me again
    a word of advice
    this is some good stuff
    keep it safe
    i heard bout people stealing stuff and making money from it, and the owner not being able to do anything bout it
    dont let it happen to you
    just ad sumthing small saying sumthing lik
    these poems are mine
    all it takes

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