These two poems by Auden Eagerton situate the trauma of dysfunctional family life in the natural world, which works as metaphor and backdrop for the most haunting aspect of such harrowing experiences: their attempted erasure. Or as the poet writes “Tilling the carpet, forgetting the roots, my mother/ plays dress-up with the roses, pretends them into tulips./ The carpet has always been this way, baby-soft and muted.”
by: Auden Eagerton
Confederate Roses, Jersey Tulips
My mother planted three droplets in the carpet.
The birthdays blur—did they sprout in May,
or August, or on the Fourth of July?
They sprang from death, the prayer of it, shoveled
out and splayed like that on the floor, little “miracles.”
Axed heartbeats against living spatter.
The crop of it all blooming in front of her, swollen.
As if anything else could come of so much blood.
This is what it is to be open wound,
shaking white in the haunting left in the morning;
flushed from holding stung air in place;
Scab. Blossom. Repeat.
Tilling the carpet, forgetting the roots, my mother
plays dress-up with the roses, pretends them into tulips.
The carpet has always been this way, baby-soft and muted.
Why My Father Tried to Kill Me
He wanted to make a suitcase from my body
to pack away everything his hands couldn’t mend:
my mother’s abysses; the dry runs of her suicides;
his daughters, canaries too often sent ahead of him
to draw up her toxins.
Maybe he thought I was the broken piece
and spackling me shut would fill the cracks
of our family with magnolias and honey.
Or I was a flower in his garden in need of pruning,
a blight on a false Eden.
I was a reflection begging to be atomized,
kaleidoscoped into a levee
to stem the flood between his fingers
as we eroded before him.
The bedsheet was something he could channel,
a thunderbolt to a god.
I was an open field miniscule beneath his sky.
Extraction is just another word for family.
In an alternate universe, he killed that little girl.
In another timeline, he pays for what he’s done.
Here, I keep her nestled inside me, stillborn.
I grow around her.
Auden Eagerton is an aspiring poet located in Kennesaw, Georgia. She pursues a Bachelor of Arts in English, as well as a minor in Film Studies, at Kennesaw State University, beginning in the fall of 2013. Her interests lie heavily in studying American literature and poetry. In addition to publishing her own poetry, Ms. Eagerton aims to one day become an editor for a literary magazine and be involved in both sides of the publishing process. Her work has been featured in Exhume Literary Journal.
There’s a sameness to dysfunctional families. Same language, same gestures, same annihilations. The infrastructure of dysfunction is modular and can fit in so many families. I haven’t penetrated the first poem, yet. The second very much reminds me of my own family: the dry runs of her suicides and the canaries sent ahead of him. Ouch! I can feel the pain. Thirty years of therapy and I am still disturbed. I wish you luck and support, Annalee. You’re young and already so aware. Well done.
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