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By Tara Hardy

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
                into parts. 

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. 
       I           did 
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. 
Sometimes, sometimes, 
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.



Listen as Tara Hardy reads, "THE NINE."

Added: Tuesday, September 25, 2018  /  From "My, My, My, My, My," (Write Bloody, 2016). Used with permission.
Tara Hardy
Photo by Brian Weiss.

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.

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