My family was like a jar of grasshoppers.
We fed on each other.
We ate each other alive.
We wanted out.
It was not butterflies we wanted to be.
Not anything that beautiful.
Not anything that free.
We just wanted out.
We were like a nest of wasps.
Wanting to sting you, repeatedly,
Until you died screaming.
We fed on pain.
Hurtful. Hateful. Horrendous.
Speaking was meant to draw blood.
To make it flow freely, forever, fatally.
To have pain is to feel.
We were like cicadas, screaming at night.
Empty shelves of selves littered our tree.
We thought this would free us,
But hornets ate us at our birth.
Repeatedly trying to emerge,
We became trapped forever crumbling.
Seeing no way free from our tree,
We screamed like sirens in the night.
Walking in the open, frozen, field,
Freed for the night from driven golfers.
My dog running frenetically beside me,
Frantic to keep her feet unfrozen,
Running like a yearling deer.
She leaps and swirls under starlight.
Sounds like rifle shots signal danger.
She stops in mid-leap landing solid.
What are these snapping sniper sounds
Mysteriously magnified in frozen stillness?
Suddenly I halt to try and see
What danger exists to the dog and me.
Tree trunks around me are splitting,
Some down the middle as if axed.
Other limbs are smaller, but bigger
than a man hewn in the prime of life.
Falling ice is taking them down
It is in frozen water that they drown.
I longed to be the fair-haired girl
straight blonde hair to her shoulders
flipping and swirling as she turned her head
perfect figure pirouetting through time
as she was thrown into the air
landing softly like a sparrow on a branch
my fate was to have unruly brown tangles
a body that couldn’t balance to flip
longing for what I couldn’t have
nevertheless, I swirled through time
shining like a star without a moon
twinkling as a beacon so they could see
what they really wanted was a girl like me
“Time and tide wait for no man”
—Ancient phrase, origin unknown,
predates modern English
Sometimes I wish that you were near me
At that time when you are quite far away
Nighttimes when my body aches to feel thee
At bedtime when my heart is cold and gray
Timeless nights when you are not by my side
My timer is set for when you return
Many the times when all I’ve done was cried
Until the timer chimes, call my name “Yearn”
I’m on timeout from all that fills my soul
My days are timeworn, and sleep is not found
May you return in time to make life whole
Meantime my heart will beat, but make no sound
Come back to me in a timely manner
Until that time I will need no Amor
I swim a lap back to the end.
My legs feel peaceful when they bend.
Full-length today I can extend.
Oh, I pretend. Oh, I pretend.
But when I walk these legs offend,
don’t always do as I intend.
In the water I can transcend.
Oh, I pretend. Oh! I pretend!
Pat Beckemeyer has been writing poetry with a group of local Wichita poets who have met weekly for nine years. Her poetry has won awards in recent Kansas Authors Club contests and appears in the anthology To the Stars Through Difficulties: A Kansas Renga in 150 Voices (Mammoth Press).