Poem: Pay No Attention to the Man in Front of the Curtain

BW house

Pay No Attention to the Man in Front of the Curtain.

The problem of course,
is that I have been too well trained,
to a Pavlovian pitch.

“How are you?”
“Fine” I say,
as my courage turns to mush,
as my heart splits asunder,
as my legs flounder to find solid ground.

My meanderings, my lost moments,
my struggles, no matter how public,
are dismissed because, after all,
I am still standing,
the smile I was taught to wear in mixed company
still in place.

My father would be proud.
My mother would be proud,
not so much at my training
and my fight against it,
my railing against every instinct
of propriety.

She would forgive my lapses.
It is after all, how she too was trained.
A generational thing
full of well meaning lies,
saving others
at the expense of ourselves.

About this poem

My mother once told me that even as a small child, I seem so “self contained” that she didn’t worry about me, even when, perhaps she should have.

Of course I did. She was the same way. I am not sure how well it served either of us. But training is hard to break.


One comment

  1. Tom,

    You are right. Lynn and I found some writings of hers that were heartbreaking, and early, before the worst of things. She knew she had options – I made sure of that – but it was too ingrained, and she was not comfortable using them, even with support. Like her own mother, yet the repetitions can soften the edges. We have each other, in a way she did not. Scars too.


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