The Beginning and the End


In my early memory,
You were there

And then you were not,
I think.

And after you left,
The space you occupied
Was invisible
Except for a smell
Much like
The inside of a freezer
When there is nothing in it.

Your space smelled like
The cold air with–
I think–
A hint of aftershave
Hovering over/erasing
The faint aroma of something unsavory
(I’m not sure what).

But coming from that space
Was a smell that left me catatonic
(A state that is not quiet nor still,
But thunderous and quaking with
A single thought flapping
Faster than a hummingbird’s wings–
Too fast to form meaning into words).

My thought was a question
Winging so hard
I could not move from the spot
Next to your empty space.

With each flap,
The rift between heart and soul
And the rest of me
Widened and deepened with the knowledge–
I was too young to understand–
That you did not love me
The way I loved you,
That, in fact, you hated me,
And your aftershave covered
The stale smell of
Cigarettes and alcohol,
A smell so permeating and near
It seemed to come from me.

The weight of your smell
Was shame covering me
In a manner I can’t recall.

All I know is,
Everything begins and ends
At the point where
You left your cold spot empty
And I was lying next to it
Loudly shaking
In unmoved silence,
Disillusioned and transformed
By a father’s drunken violation,
Wondering what had just happened,
What for, why me
(Who loved you).

From my e-book, Like. Love. Hate. available at and Smashwords.

©A. D. Joyce, 2014


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