They call it dissociation.
I call it THE NINE (children)
who live inside me.
Each of them encased
in amber, frozen in a mosquito-pose
of run or sting. Or manage or seduce or judge
or hide. I could tell you their names, but
they’d be stinging me all month.
When the shock/pain/terror/parent-as-apocalypse is too much
My therapist calls them Parts. I know
a woman who calls them Littles.
Each of my Littles goes to see the Lady Talk-Doctor
to get healed. They don’t understand
healed. They understand put the knives in the stove
so she can’t find them. They understand wear tight shorts
to bed so he has a hard time yanking them off.
On the chart it says D.I.D.
The word shatter doesn’t have enough T’s in it.
Even when we can’t compose ourselves
in public, we sometimes still need to parallel park.
While sobbing. In front of the un-damaged. Who stop
and stare at the way we gun it towards the bumper
in front and gun it towards the bumper in back, trying
to get a good opening, trying to make enough
space (for usssssssss). I tell THE NINE, “It’s okay,
those people’s nervous systems
were not built by Trauma.”
The Fight Back/the Please You/the Hide/
the Seduce/the Sword Inward/the Better Than/
the Fire Alarm/the Littlest/the Hovercraft
and Me (not our real names)
are glad to meet you.
You oughta see my mailboxes.
You oughta see my baggage
tags. You oughta see the sheet I jam
into the door of my closet
in which to wrap us up tight—it’s the only way
to get Fire Alarm to stop howling
and Littlest to stop shaking.
I can get Sword Inward
to stop thrusting.
Lady Talk-Doctor says because some of the T happened
before I was verbal, the intervention needs to be non-
verbal. I heard that cows on their way to slaughter
are calmed by a tight chute. So I invented
the sheet-wrap swaddle.
They call it dissociation. I call it containers
in which I horror-stored. Each of which have to be
opened, reheated, rolled out like a lava carpet
and crawled on.
is the finish line. But so far, their little legs
can outrun me at most gatherings.
Especially when I’m trying to park.
Added: Tuesday, September 25, 2018 / From "My, My, My, My, My," (Write Bloody, 2016). Used with permission.
Tara Hardy is a Working Class, Queer, Disabled, Femme writer, and founder of Bent, a writing institute for LGBTQ people in Seattle. Her book of poems, My, My, My, My, My, won a 2017 Washington State Book Award, and explores the linkages between childhood trauma and chronic illness. She is a former Hugo House Writer-In-Residence, Seattle Poet Populist, and Hedgebrook alumna. She teaches at Richard Hugo House, Path with Art, Seattle Central College, and University Behind Bars. Tara is the Arts Director at Gay City, producing art by and for LGBTQ People who live at the intersections of oppressed identities. She holds an MFA from Vermont College, and is the author of two books by Write Bloody Publishing.