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Posts Tagged ‘spring’

I am graduating from high school soon. The spring time fever. Everyone is excited for the summer, for their travels onward. The animals perform rites of migration and mating. I watch the sanderlings toddling about getting ready to breed, the soft budding of elk antlers. Soon the trees will fill with nests of loud, hungry babies. This fever is paralleled by hormonal teenagers in pairs; they walk holding hands with ripped jeans and find quiet basements to push their tongues and hips into eachother. Inevitably several girls will get pregnant because the conception roulette was not on their side and they will bring the drama of abortion or teenage motherhood to the hallways. The way I see it, you either pair up like mating birds, group up like herding deer, or end up a loner, like me.

The plants push out bright healthy green shoots, stretching upward and outward. I wonder if I myself will grow at all this year. I stand and look at my reflection with no shirt on. Pretty worthless. Thin arms and a ribcage that expands noticably when I breathe. My hair is dark and messy, sideswept bangs over my forehead. My jeans are black and my converse shoes are scuffed to the point the white is a mottled brown. I picture the several tattoos I plan on getting once I turn 18. Several of them based on artwork I created, some of them based on native art. I imagine the needle dipping in and out of my thin stretched skin around my ribs, taut like a hide drum. Dark ink spreading like an oil spill into the deeper layers of my dermis. I turn away and back to my canvas.

I paint the springtime colors in bold, sure strokes. A cloud temporarily covers the sun, dampening the light coming in through the window. My mother opens the door. “What are you doing?” She asks with a bored inflection. I put my shirt back on. “I’m self-injecting a massive dose of opium into my veins and coordinating an international violent uprising. What are you doing?” She sighs and tells me I have to come help her do some yard work. “Why?” She doesn’t answer me but walks away with the door open. “Shut the door, Janine! The cops could arrest me for all this illegal activity!” I dump the paintbrushes into water and follow after her.

Our yard is ugly. No, wait. The whole neighborhood is ugly. The rain has left muddy puddles all over. The grass in most yards is patchy at best and non-existent at worst. Trash blows in alleys and gathers in huddles around fence corners like gang members on the prowl. A large, shiny black raven sits on a roof gutter and eyes us suspiciously. They act and move like bodyguards, staring from the corners of their eyes, stalking with exaggerated movements, loudly announcing their indignations. I grab a rake and poke at the soggy leaves. I look over at my mother.

She has given up on herself. The man she fell in love with in high school got her pregnant and left her. She found someone else, and he did the same thing. She tried on men like bad sweaters at a thrift store, endlessly trying to find someone to help raise us boys into strapping young men and to keep her company. What she found was a tattered string of abusive relationships. See, a lot of the men here either drink, hit their family, or both. Some academics refer to is as “group cultural trauma.” The oppression of an entire culture, much like the white oppression of native alaskans, will create a ripple effect of oppression in a community. The men have lost their power, so they in turn enforce their power over their wives and children. Or over their livers with a dose of whiskey or twenty. I ponder this as I watch my mom tuck her hair behind her ear and pull the dead iris leaves, jerking them in a backward thrust. “Janine. What are you looking for in a man?” She hates it when I call her by her first name; a sign of disrespect for an elder. Why is it so irresistible for me to do this to her? I of all people know the value of a respectful name. If I was smart, I would look at myself in the mirror, and open the door of my ribcage and look inside. I would find the age-old inherited wounds and poke at them until they bleed. Then I would be able to recognize my own need to assert power and control, cut it out of me, stitch up that hole and start healing. But instead, I poke and prod at anyone and everyone else.

 

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