Pruning Unseen Giants

Armor weaved out of sundried palm leaves, her Quixote was perfect for my straightjacketed Dulcinea. With red thread, I stitched a white habit out of an armful of my baby brother’s best cloth diapers. The costume was tight around my ankles. I moved an inch and something ripped—my mother is going to wring my neck.

The red stitches caused a riot: Mother Superior blamed my “wilds” on pliable rulers. But Sister Virtudes de la Piedad said that plastic had similar howl-birthing powers.

I was punished in plastic. I didn’t howl or ask for redemption, but said to Mother and Sister that they were unfair and braindead. Quixote was told never to speak to me again. I thought she would fight for us. But her eyes were heavy with the shame she was told I should have felt… And she ran away to befriend giant-thought-sucking windmills.

armed in power red
Panza’s bare feet kiss the soil
prune unseen giants

Note: one of my best friends says that “pain is a betrayer”. I agree with her. Pain attacks from within, and it makes the whole thing feel as if it is your fault. It leaves the mind and body hurt and confused, asking: Why are you doing this? What do you want for me?

NaPoWriMo with Magaly Guerrero, Day 2 – Creativity and Pain: “This poem should explore creativity as a healing salve, as a shield, as a weapon, or as a negotiation method to use when dealing with physical and/or psychological pain.”

linked to the Imaginary Garden with Real Toads: Mama Zen said, “Today, I want you to tell us about the house that built you. It doesn’t have to be an actual house; it can be a school house, a house of worship, a tree-house…. any place from your younger years that has special meaning to you now.” My house is bright red.

Tilting at Windmills, by Galen ValleTilting at Windmills ©2015 Galen Valle

51 thoughts on “Pruning Unseen Giants

    • The first time I read Don Quixote–I was quite young, can’t remember how old–but I recall thinking, If that’s what mad people are like, they’ll only need a good friend or two and they would be okay.

  1. Nice imagery and I’m starting to see that thread that’s always in your work, some key sentence that describes, sometimes brutally, the nature of a family relationship.

  2. “I was punished in plastic” ARrrrg, So many adroit turns in this, as the pain becomes in some odd manner a very stately dance, like those of a long-gone courtliness, where only the very tips of fingers dared to touch. Sister Virtues of Piety of course only knows one note of that music, and that an off-key one. Beautiful allegory of betrayal, Magaly, and I especially like the concluding tercet.

    • I was in Puerto Rico with friends once, and we ran into a woman who was spanking her son hard and with so much rage that other people stopped to watch… The little boy’s wails were empty of real emotion, as if he had done the crying thing so many times that it was mechanic by then; made me think rehearsals that no one should have to learn.

      I walked to the woman (to my friends’ embarrassment) and said nothing. I just looked at her. Whatever she saw in my eyes made her stop.

  3. 🙂 I was feeling sorry for you, Magaly. Even now. You wrote it so well! Also until down into the meat, I was thinking of “Don Quixote” and that SHE was a man, perhaps a father or a father image person. I too had some undeserved punishment as a child. I have never forgotten nor forgiven, even though my father has been dead over eight years now.

    • Abuse is often repressed and even rationalized… I found both things puzzling. Like you, I’ve moved on… but forgetting and forgiving? No. And I’m not sorry. The ghosts of some things (even if ugly) I keep around in a box. When we forget the nastiness of the past, then nasty things get repeated.

  4. How deeply run those youthful betrayals! You brought back out into the open how painful it is to have conformity beaten into you when your soul is a born jouster! I am so glad that your “wild’s” outlived the plastic!

  5. I loved reading this, but I honestly can’t say I understand it enough. Perhaps it’s not meant to be understood as much as empathized. I get the betrayal, though. I will try to again later today – it’s that good.

  6. Wow. What fantastic reading this prompt has produced. First, I LOVE the title, and the short verse of your haibun. The story is a rich recap of childhood – I know those nuns and rulers!!!!! And the betrayal of the friend who couldnt handle the heat. Just loved this poem.

  7. “The red stitches caused a riot” made me laugh, I wondered if they were done with that intent? I wouldn’t be surprised.

    Pain is a betrayer, it makes you doubt yourself, laughter is a good antidote.

  8. Breathtaking Ms Wicked, literally, it doesn’t terrify me to be hit (we were not ever so I suspect this may be why) it is terrifys me those acting in the name of god, those who birth babes, little fragile beings with so much potential, those suppose to nurture, those supposed to teach, protect, instill virtues have the power to destroy… You survived because they did not break you… So many others just repeat learnt hostilities, or truly shatter. To take these intense situations and weave them into sensational poetry… The word images exploded in my head, amazing Ms Wicked xox

    • Few things can affect a child–in negative and positive ways–like the behavior of a person she or he looks up to. Thank goodness for those who good by them… thank goodness, indeed. ♥

  9. I love the images you draw from nature and things organic. You have a clear and ready theme that always touches in a lovely way on growth, gardens, and natural life even when what you’re writing is dark. Don’t lose that. A fine read, Lady Magaly.

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