Return to Sender

Remember when you thought going to bed was the best time of day, the way you curled your body into the curve of his, your torsos and legs a pair of nesting commas, his arms holding you like the string on a present, something to both secure and decorate your wrapping?

Remember when you thought that finding the love of your life meant no more choices to make, that it would last until death parted you from it, biology’s ruthlessness the only unbreachable barrier?

Remember the day your father told you that if a ship were sinking and he had to choose between saving your mother or saving you, he would choose her? Remember nodding, yes, of course, of course that would only be right, even as you imagined your little-girl arms flailing for someone to hold onto?

Remember your great-uncle Shorty, who came back broken from the war and never mended, how one time he pointed at you from his chair in his mother’s dark living room, saying nothing, pipe dangling, and how you ran to your mother in the kitchen and hid your face in the space between her legs? Remember how, later, you said it felt as if he were claiming or marking you as one of his kind?

Remember the space between your legs, how important it seemed to fill it, that tunnel a conduit to your hollow core, the empty package of you?

Remember the boy who drank too much one night and fell down the stairs and how for a while afterward said the kind of things we think but don’t say, and how he told the boyfriend who would become your first husband that you were damaged? Remember after the divorce, how you would think that he had been right?

Remember that package you got once in the mail, how its box was so tattered and mashed that you were sure its contents must be broken, that the whole thing would have to be returned?

Remember how you were wrong?



Another exercise from the poetry group mentioned here. Guess I’m working on some things.

10 thoughts on “Return to Sender

    • Rita says:

      Thanks, Marian. I’ll always take a hug, though this particular piece isn’t one that makes me feel sad or fragile. The opposite, in fact.

    • Rita says:

      This response tickles me. I sure don’t feel like one, but it tickles me all the same. Just left a long-winded introspective comment on your last post, but I’m not sure if it went through. The upshot of it was: yes, me too.

  1. Teresa Lightfoot says:

    I wish these lessons of our lives and how they make us feel were some things that we could teach our children to avoid. These are deeply personal and most everyone will need to experience. The beautiful part of this is to “remember you were wrong “. That is the lesson I hope to share with everyone. Thank you again for sharing! LYB

    • Rita says:

      I wonder if we can’t teach our children at least some of this. I know I talk with Grace in a way that no one ever talked with me about relationships and love and what we do and don’t owe each other. I don’t know if that kind of conversation when I was young would have helped me make some different choices. Maybe not. Some things felt pretty compelling in the moment. A therapist told me that it takes three generations for a family to fully recover from the kinds of things that have been part of ours, once a person in it begins the work of recovery. And he told me that it gets better for each one that follows. That made me feel terrible in some ways, but hopeful in others. I know our girls will have their own kinds of struggles, but I hope they will be different from ours. Love you. Thank you for reading and talking with me.

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