I always leave my mentor’s office recharged, made painfully–luckily–aware of the purpose of my journey in composition. Over the last few years, I’ve been so grateful to have the people come into my life that have. These people are mostly women, a decade or so older than me, and much more wise than I ever think I’ll be.

Growing up for me meant teaching myself all I know. Sometimes without a home, always without coherent parents, I grasped at straws. I saw things for what they had to be. I dared dreams in my sleep and the countless pages of the journals that kept me sane.

One day my dad showed up after years of a cocaine haze, wanting to know why I never followed any rules. (there were rules?) He wanted to make me normal. Throwing the beer can I was guzzling from my hand, he thought consternation was going to be a weapon. I mocked his face, for that was all the value that man possessed.

“You don’t even know what cereal I used to like. You know nothing.”

He took me to some therapist’s office. She was nice and everything, but I wasn’t talking. My dad thought he was smart; he gave her my first journal. A black and white composition book full of my scratchy poetry and thirteen-year-old angst.  I saw it leave his hands and go to hers. My pieces of me were going somewhere I hadn’t permitted them to go.

You may take my words, but not my guile.

I smiled at them. Then I turned around and sat down in the falsely comfortable chair. A page or two in, the therapist told my dad to leave. He looked like pure indignant fury. Was my smirk apparent?

She drifted into her chair slowly, eyes never leaving the pages. I was bare, barely bare. I was in those pages in ways I wasn’t even sure of. She kept reading and reading. I don’t know how long it took. I kept thinking that I wished I could write down what was happening so I knew what I was thinking later. Feeling. Whatever I do, did.

“You’re a poet.” she whispered looking straight into my eyes. They were soft, calm, and sincere. I didn’t say anything, just kept my eyes on hers. “How long have you been hurting? Always, huh?” That wasn’t really a question. It was one of those affirmation things. I nodded anyway.  This lady was probably alright. “Let’s get your dad back in here.” –fuck, maybe not.

He came in, haughtiness recovered. “She’s crazy, right? Suicidal. I knew it.”

“Actually, sir, she’s perfectly fine. Her poetry says it all. But you might want to think about how to be parent. Your girl here, she has been doing it far too long.”

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