The sign persisted in my mind.
The words you blemished the paper with.
The language that described you at your worst self.
That sign dominated the entire basement
And even years after your death, I thought you
Were still there, waiting for me to break your rules,
Hiding in a soundless corner, post-mortem,
To put into action what you manifested on the door
That outlived you.
I carried that image in my own body wherever I went.
Its implications gnarled in the back of my mind.
Hearing your voice repeating those words, the exclamation mark.
The illustration that was never playful,
The mundane artistry ejected from your fingers.
And my imagination took it further, it knew you so well.
I would desperately look for the women in my life
To amount to the same and opposite force of nature as the men therein.
I believed in what had been projected.
I could never dive into the minds of these women.
How much suppressed pain and silent suffering and patient rage
It took for them to rise above the men’s shallowness,
To rediscover who they were and stand tall amongst the men’s
Poor masquerade. I woke up in awe of the women’s unmasked
Identities, understanding that they were the motor of things, the web of honey
That kept families together, the spine, the incorruptible inner
Machinery of the united vehicle, the tact of love and recreation,
The frequency of the meaningfulness of our lives.
Instead of observing and bowing to the rugged mouths that screamed and bawled,
I should have paid attention to the minds whose contemplations tethered themselves
Into the patterns and fabrics of the ungullible tablecloth.
“Reading the Story of Oenone” by Francis Davis Millet (1848-1912)