~Hard to Explain~

You think maybe
a little love and care
can fix the decade-wide
stiches in hugs
and kisses
and spoiling sweet words--
but the smile is old
as the dust in her hair
and it doesn't mean anything
when the paint starts
to chip.

(It's hard. . .)

You'd think the therapy
would do something
wouldn't you;
they all came and talked
to her didn't they
and it's always supposed to
help when you throw money
at the problem--
but scratchy steno
notepads leave
and the sickness doesn't care
about degrees or dollarsigns.

(To explain. . .)

They think it's a phase
sometimes when the denial
hits hardest;
they pat your back and tell
you in condescending
tones it will pass--
there's disgust
in their eyes behind
gauzy stained
and they know it could
never happen to *their* little
because they're better than that.

(So hard. . .)

I think the purpose
of the bandages was
that's what you said
wasn't it
when you wrapped your arms
around her--
but the bitemarks burn deeper
than you thought,
and medicine holds
the infection inside
her skin.
And we're never quite sure
if she's bleeding poison
or tears out her eyes,
and if they're running colored
or clear--
By now it's something
than emotional
her hands are warm
like frostbite,
something physical
is wrong here.

(Can't explain. . .)

Everyone asks what's wrong
all the time but
you can't say because it's nothing
so definite--
It's hard to explain
but she's rocking
back and forth in the corner
and that's about the size of it--
she doesn't blink
she doesn't breathe
she won't die,
a china doll leaking blue-
black onto the carpet
through the cracks.

~(c) 10/01 The Mad Poet (A.K. LaBelle)