2 December 2004 | Vol. 4, No. 4

Carmen and I

This is where we enter. Carmen and I. Mom and I. Two rotten, two diseased, two dying. I say, "Mom, once we knew what it felt like to be idle." She's throwing frozen fish sticks in the oven for dinner. I'm watching her watching television. She makes "love" to her boyfriend on the pullout couch and I mistake it for the old washing machine, banging against the wall.

She shares with me the secret of insanity, the secret of men, the secret of doctors and a flair for re-decorating. Carmen and I. This is where we remember. A little girl crying in the washroom at school, because while all the other children march around in their Halloween costumes, she has nothing to hide behind. This is where we forget. In the photograph, she sits in the crook of a tree, taken around the time she met your father. who would have known five years later, you would swell up in her belly and emerge like turtle. To sea… to sea. You never quite made it.

We're my father's dream. The tiptoe around. The been-there-done-that of skeletons in the hallway closet. We're Martyrs of our own making. Nuns cloaked in darkness. Mad women, we are… sad women. Praying mantises at the feet of happiness' alter. Carmen and I. Her mother. My daughter. Slaves to our past. Rock climbers, aimed for the top of affection, with tear ducts permanently left open.

She was taught to fear her Jesus. I was taught to fear myself.

About the author:

Cassandra Schiemann's most recent publication is with Sundress Press' Wicked Alice. She currently resides in Hamilton, Ontario, and can be reached at .

For further reading:

Browse the contents of 42opus Vol. 4, No. 4, where "Carmen and I" ran on December 2, 2004. List other work with these same labels: poetry, prose poem.

42opus is an online magazine of the literary arts.

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