Temporary warmth

We’re walking on different sides of a sunlit street

The rain has ceased, everything glistens with temporary warmth

We are no longer the children of coal and sinking crafts

Who plucked our fear from our teeth like stray pieces of meat

In undigested land devoid of dental floss

I swam once

The entire length of a pool holding my breath underwater

The teachers eyes bulging, as he asked me why I didn’t drown

I could have told him, drowning wasn’t the worst fate

Nothing to lose with eyes closed, pushing against surly weight of water

Antiseptic smell in my nostrils and your voice

Catching with laughter like much played vinyl

We hung from tree limbs to forget the welt of sad places

Drifting in sunlight as long as we could, before shadows criss-crossed satsuma sun

I could have said; when you’ve nothing to lose

It’s easier to give your all

Even as you drown on dry land

But adults never understood us then, with our suitcases of pain and secrets

They stapled confessions together and told us

Don’t make up wicked lies

Sent us home, without pebbles in our pockets

To mark the way back to before we spoke

Out.

That is why

Diving deep

I would talk to you as we

Held our mutual spearmint breath

Swam fierce, then languid, until numb

Through unyielding padlocked worlds

So similar to all we knew

Save those brief moments skipping class

With the glory of a starting over day, all her unabashed radiance

Even nightmares could be beautiful

Braid their hair with pink skirted daisies

On days like those

Rise

girls-holding-hands

 

Rise.

I rise,

From my knees, from my bondage,

I rise,

Tall and mighty,

I rise,

Like the lark in the morning,

The nightingale at night,

Singing my song.

I rise,

Poor, lonely or ugly,

I rise,

Oppressed, broken, destroyed,

I rise

And become the sun and the stars

And every flower that ever bloomed,

Bloomed first in my heart,

For I held on to my dreams when

The darkness kicked me, I

Held them tight.

And now I rise.

To a new day that has my name,

My face, my still timid smile.

My day.

And on this day I give out my hand

To you my sister, and tell you,

Let’s rise.

Tall and high.

Rise.

 

Ode to a Black Eye- Christine Ray

hand-1832921_960_720.jpg

I can’t remember now

If it was your left eye or your right

Just how puffy it was

Almost swollen shut

Black and purple

Against your pale skin

The white of your eye

Hemorrhaged

From the force of the blow

 

I don’t remember

If we asked what

Had happened

Or if we just knew

I do remember

Being in Mrs. Merten’s

English class

People whispering

Into each other’s ears

Wondering what you had done

To deserve this black eye

Had you pushed John-John

To the limit?

Flirted with another guy?

Had you been mouthy?

They wondered

A bitch?

 

You could be mouthy

You could be a bitch

In the way that only a teenage

Girl can be

I hit you once myself

At a middle school dance

After you said something

Cruel and hurtful to me

Pushing a button

That only an old friend

A good friend

Knows exists

You laughed at me then

I remember wishing I had

Slapped you harder

 

I watched the swelling

Gradually recede

The colors fade to yellow

And green

Unsettled day after day

Sitting in the back of the room

That black eye

Has haunted me for years

My silence has haunted

Me for years

I should have told you

That no woman

Ever deserves that

I should have told you

To dump his sorry ass

That he didn’t deserve you

But I didn’t

 

It wasn’t until

I left our small

Blue collar, provincial

Massachusetts hometown

And went to college

That I learned to call

This exactly what this was

Domestic Violence


Christine Ray writes for Brave and Reckless and is a member of Sudden Denouement.  She is also curator at Blood Into Ink and barista at Go Dog Go Cafe.  She is an aspiring badass

 

Uninvited-1Wise-Woman

I guess I have decided

That I was too much for you

That must be why you left

It took some time for me to grieve

After all, I told you my secrets

Trusted you with all of my heart

But I’m okay now

I’ve learned who and what is important to me

And now you are feeling uninvited?

I guess I have decided

You are not enough for me


1Wise-Woman: “I am living, fighting, and thriving with mental illness and chronic disease and a need to express myself. Writing eases some of the weight I carry.” When she isn’t yanking shadowy strands of leathery clumps of unconscious, and tenderly placing them into word documents, she is creating at A Lion Sleeps in the Heart of the Brave.

Jesus Died for Somebody’s Sins

Mother Mary

the sinners pray to me

asking me to forgive

their transgressions

their sins

as though I am holy

consecrated by the fire

washed clean in the blood

But Jesus and I never

ran in the same crowd

we didn’t pass a bottle of cheap

schnapps while parked in the Catholic  cemetery

shooting the shit in a rusty Chevy Nova

making out under small town stars

I never found god in the cardboard wafer

placed upon my tongue

by priests with too-tight white collars

who looked down on me

called me illegitimate

offspring of a whore

audacious enough

to marry a divorced Presbyterian

their own vices

alcoholism

adultery

pedophilia

lust

throwing the first stone

gossiped openly about in the parking lot after Mass

do what I say, not as I do hypocrisy

still ringing in my ears as clearly as the amens

and halleluiahs

Don’t come looking to me

for your absolution

I am no virgin in white

visited by an angel

graced by the god of gods

I was a barefoot wild child

finding the Goddess in the silver light of the moon

the Green Man in the sun-dappled clearings

where I had my first orgasms

fingers dug deep in the earth

ants crawling upon my bare fourteen year old legs

I cannot offer you the grace you seek

only my humanity

my empathy

my deeply flawed soul

 

© 2017 Christine Elizabeth Ray – All rights Reserved


Christine Ray writes for Brave and Reckless and is a member of Sudden Denouement.  She is also curator at Blood Into Ink and barista at Go Dog Go Cafe.  She is an aspiring badass.

Ode to a Black Eye-Introducing Christine Ray

hand-1832921_960_720.jpg

Ode to a Black Eye by Christine Ray

 

I can’t remember now

If it was your left eye or your right

Just how puffy it was

Almost swollen shut

Black and purple

Against your pale skin

The white of your eye

Hemorrhaged

From the force of the blow

 

I don’t remember

If we asked what

Had happened

Or if we just knew

I do remember

Being in Mrs. Merten’s

English class

People whispering

Into each other’s ears

Wondering what you had done

To deserve this black eye

Had you pushed John-John

To the limit?

Flirted with another guy?

Had you been mouthy?

They wondered

A bitch?

 

You could be mouthy

You could be a bitch

In the way that only a teenage

Girl can be

I hit you once myself

At a middle school dance

After you said something

Cruel and hurtful to me

Pushing a button

That only an old friend

A good friend

Knows exists

You laughed at me then

I remember wishing I had

Slapped you harder

 

I watched the swelling

Gradually recede

The colors fade to yellow

And green

Unsettled day after day

Sitting in the back of the room

That black eye

Has haunted me for years

My silence has haunted

Me for years

I should have told you

That no woman

Ever deserves that

I should have told you

To dump his sorry ass

That he didn’t deserve you

But I didn’t

 

It wasn’t until

I left our small

Blue collar, provincial

Massachusetts hometown

And went to college

That I learned to call

This exactly what this was

Domestic Violence

 

Christine Ray is a writer, artist and musician and fully embraces her creative ADHD.  She also has a day job in research administration at a major university. Christine started writing fiction and poetry as a preteen and was editor of her high school newspaper and yearbook.  Writing took a back seat to life for many years until the events going on in the world around her motivated her to start writing essays at the intersection of popular culture, politics, world events and her personal experience. In October of 2016, requests for her essay What Every Woman Knows inspired her to start her blog Brave and Reckless.  She hasn’t stopped writing since.  Christine is also a member of the Sudden Denouement Literary Collective.