Cancelled

She tells me I am
Cancelled
Forever gone from her life
And those of her friends
Who think they are special
Better than the rest
Way better than me
In my frumpy gymsuit
And zero brand collars
No penny in my loafers
Much less fancy tags
From places I can’t pronounce

She tells me I am
Cancelled
Not among the invited few
With privileges to enter
No member number by my name
To celebrate a marriage
Play a volley of tennis
Swing a new driver on wet grass
Race against time in a private lane
On routine morning laps
That anesthetize life
For the next generation

She tells me I am
Cancelled
My child not smart enough
For lavish play circles
Skilled in violin or dance
Ivy League study trips
To Kathmandu or Tokyo
Shopping sprees in big cities
Filled with faces of a different kind
On shores not of our making
Horses race to the finish line
Await the golden prize

She tells me I am
Cancelled
Undeserving of her anointed
Self-importance as though
My gymsuit remains baggy
Shoes tattered and socks worn
Running on empty streets
Curbs with no master
To slow me at red lights or stop signs
Before dawn cracks open her window
Enough to see the hospital walls
Ahead in the darkened alley

She tells me I am
Cancelled
Uncertain who resides behind
The mask of protection from
A March madness that seeps
Into Earth’s seams
Slows its rotation
Halts splashes in the waves
Stops shiny rings on young fingers
Hopeful of a future that may disappear
She remains unaware
Lost in old reruns to mark time in place

She tells me I am
Cancelled
Waves her black pastic in my face
To let me know she pays for the best
Most famous doctor on his way
To save her skin from everyone else
Who sneezes with aching brains
Scarred lungs and seared hearts
Like hers left from years of ugliness
Too selfish to consider the value
Of what frienship might be
If she chooses to look

She tells me I am
Cancelled
As I wipe droplets from her sweaty brow
Insert fluids into her bulging veins
Ignore her delirium as nonsense
Spews from her crusty lips partnered
With the venom of her kind
Gasping for air and life all at once
Retreat from the past
Act in the now
Save the woman from herself
Save myself, too

I tell her she is
Cancelled
God knows we tried our best
Gave all we could
Against all odds
Isolation, ventilator and
Life-saving drugs aside
The same outcome
Her daughter cries
I discard my gloves in a red bag
And move to the next room
Another life cancelled

–Victoria Emmons, copyright, 2020

Invisible Wings

The door opens to a flutter of wings
that swoop in the dark before my eyes,
unseen, yet a whisper of wind foretells.

Wings up to nothing but mischief, no doubt,
like a foal that kicks up its heels in an open field
joyous at the very suggestion of life.

Wings that follow the wind to where it leads
then capture moonlit flights to nowhere
and laugh at the twinkling stars above.

Wings that spell voracious hunger to search
for tiny unsuspecting creatures seeking light
and warmth through the cool, summer night.

Wings squeezed into a dime-size sliver of space
to spend the morning hours in sleep while
others begin the motion of daily routine.

Wings that share my house and come out
to play whilst I dream of rainbows and rivers,
invisible wings that disappear for another day.

–Victoria Emmons, copyright 2015

D-Day

Paula had warned me they were there. I had my doubts. It had been 15 years since I moved into my house and I had never seen one. She was certain they were hiding out there somewhere. I just hadn’t found any yet. Today was the day.

I was washing the brick barbecue area in my back yard. The sink next to the gas grill was filled with dry, crinkled leaves that were clogging up the drain. It is nearly autumn and my oak trees have begun to discard more of their leaves and twigs. I reached in and pulled out a handful of the debris that had filled the sink. And there they were hiding under the mulch….two medium-sized scorpions each with their claws extended. I had been cleaning this sink with my bare hands. I took a step backward in disbelief. I knew I could not wash the creatures down the drain. I searched for a sturdy twig on the ground, picked it up and began my task. The pair had to be destroyed.

The larger one, the female, was slower since she was carrying her future children. She went first. As she died, she deposited her eggs, a final effort to assure her progeny survived. I felt like a beast. The smaller of the two, the male, fought hard. Even when I thought he was gone, after my sword had crushed his body, his wiggling claws demonstrated his vitality.

I was still uncomfortable about my own safety. I knew a scorpion bite could be very painful and even deadly. Only 30 of the 1,500 species of scorpion can inflict potentially fatal stings. But which 30, I asked? I didn’t have time to look that up before I dealt with these two scorpions that had taken up residence.

Despite the huge variance in our sizes, the scorpions and I battled until the end. The eggs were washed down the drain to their own fate. I snagged the scorpion bodies with my twig and moved them up onto the brick countertop. I needed to reassure myself that they had been properly exterminated. And then I saw a third. He had escaped my sight earlier, hiding along with a medium-sized black spider under the mass of gunk in my sink. This one seemed to move slower than the other two. Yet he was equally as difficult to destroy. All three of the scorpions living in my sink were unaware that today was D-Day. The spider was set free.

—Victoria Emmons, © August 31, 2014