Jennifer Collins

Falling Out of Safety When They Call My Name

I have forgotten my umbrella. I have forgotten

(my umbrella but it looks like protection if you see it you’ll know it because it looks like a
little bit of starry-eyed sky clumped down into a cone that saves me from weather and sunlight
whenever I ask you see)

What I’ve forgotten is a part of my allowance

(of safety and part of how I know I can go forward forward and on because it came from a
man who was the other piece of my safety who kept me from sights I didn’t want whether
weather based or personal whether elemental or personal or something I can’t name)

For safety is something you can’t purchase

(any more than I could re-purchase that umbrella or be reimbursed by a stranger who
might have picked it up for himself for herself for elemental safety not knowing that I
need it like I need a steady hand and a ready mind and a steady stable)

Something that means something

(even if forgotten like the soft footfall of starshine on memories like the feel of a palm
which was rough though you remember only its heft like a commercial that means
nothing without sound and isn’t heard because of a lover’s voice)

Like that man who gave me an umbrella

(and kept me safe though I wasn’t looking for safety he kept me placed and stable so that
I couldn’t hear chaos so that there was no question of submission or withdrawal only
survival within the crowd shouting that couldn’t see through my umbrella my protection)

And it meant something.  It meant something

(and I want to hear its blunt saving silence above me the drill of rain like the drill of voices
that call for me that can’t see me that I’ve found some protection from when it solves the air
above me like a safeguard jigsaw thwarting fear)

Until I forget what unprotection feels like

(like the fear, I know without my umbrella without my starshine without the reach of the
man who lent me who gave me who saved me that umbrella that I’ve forgotten that I’m
searching for now that I’m only afraid and hoping that)

They are not shouting at the moment.

Taping It Up

There are two types of us silent monsters, covering up wounds and tripping forward sloppily, accepted.

The do-it-yourself-duct-tape-hold-it-together-and-conquer-the-world kind charge ahead. Anything that happens, it’s a strip of duct tape and to hell with the scars. Let’s cover it up and get on with it since we’re not dead yet. And the wounds stay mostly silent, even though they speak volumes through future actions.  With bodies held together by ragged boundaries, inside and outside, heartbreak and body-break par for the course, monsters like this celebrate their duct-taped attitudes and rip off another strip for the next road, the next raised eyebrow, the next ache that hits the mind or the skin. Anything is fixable, and only the tape was sleep him gets permanent order.

And then there are the hide-it-before-anybody-sees-scotch-tape-it-up-and-smooth-it-down kind. Wounds get hidden, sealed off before they can attempt real embarrassment, just another scar to be taken into the shadows and dropped there for dead. Let’s hurry it up and get it together before anybody notices we’re hurt. And the wounds get hidden, the body and the person retreating alongside them as if the person could disappear under the tape. Bodies are stitched together, the tape smoothed down and silent and pretty, so pretty, with everything in order and painted as clear as new glass, like this day is any other day is any other day is any other day.  Monsters like this cover up the pain, smooth it down, and hide it like their life depends on it, ready for making sure that nobody can notice who they are, or who they were.

Covering it up and tripping, cantering, sliding, slogging forward, it doesn’t matter whether you’re a duct-taper or a scotch-taper, exhibiting swaths of sticky gray or smoothing down gentle edges and hoping nobody will notice. You’re taping up the pain, building yourself into the Frankenstein’s monster you want to be with each stick and each pull,and pretending that there’s nothing monstrous in the hiding, or in the pain, at all. And you admire the other monsters, who you generally recognize,though theirs isn’t the tape for you.

It’s a world of silent monsters taping it up to stay alive and sometimes pretending that we’re not pained, or that we’re not monsters, or that the world isn’t full of us, wounded and ready, our choice of tape strapped to our side in a ready holster, or hidden in an inside pocket and hoping it doesn’t get used up.

All I ask, all we ask, is that you admit to being a monster yourself before you call someone else one of the same. Because if we’re all monsters, like we are, we’re all beautiful, and taped up and taping, and real and worthy of being something else, too.

Jennifer Collins is a tattooed poet and animal lover who grew up in Virginia and has recently relocated to Cape Coral, FL. Her poetry has been published in various journals and nominated for a Pushcart by Puerto Del Sol and she is an instructor of creative writing and drama at the Cardigan Mountain School. Her first chapbook, Oil Slick Dreams, is available for sale from Finishing Line Press.