Crashing and spilling out onto stony beaches,
I scrambled through the muck of being thirteen.
Wait a season or two and the rain will
wash you clean, she promised me.
Then she died.
The terrain turned bleak and brittle,
like a house constructed from paper,
bones plucked out, razor-sharp.
Drenched in the smell of illness,
my voice got tangled in the hollow
threads of my mouth, lost in the discord.
I hid away, tucked safely against
the edges of a warped childhood,
feeding my bereavement with bottles of whiskey.
I stitched patterns of desolation into the
fabric of shadows that hovered like sentinels,
protecting the memory of her fingertips
lingering on my lashes.
For three decades, her death has given
my sadness breath, a pulse I try to silence
with bottles of pills and hands full of rage.
Echoes of her voice wrap me in a shroud
of longing, concealing me in the din of anguish.
I sink into a grief the years do not diminish.
Susan Richardson is living, writing and going blind in Los Angeles. She was diagnosed with retinitis pigmentosa in 2002 and much of her work focuses on her relationship to the world as a partially sighted woman. In addition to poetry, she writes a blog called Stories from the Edge of Blindness. Her work has been published in: Stepping Stones Magazine, Wildflower Muse, The Furious Gazelle, The Hungry Chimera, Sheila-Na-Gig, Chantarelle’s Notebook, Foxglove Journal, Literary Juice, Sick Lit Magazine and Amaryllis Poetry and Anapest. She was also awarded the Sheila-Na-Gig Winter Poetry Prize and will be featured in the Literary Juice 2018 Q&A Series.