“Love’s Executioner” by Sharon L. Charde

Sharon L. Charde


I come from a proud Polish poet sent to Siberia, right
arm cut from his body, punishment for poems—

the first daughter of a man from Naples who was
a baby in a ship’s hold, women screaming and praying

the rosary, afraid of God’s teeth, chocolate cake,
my mother’s blood, my car crashing into yours

on the Mass Pike or 84, and the brown spots and bruises
on my arms, afraid of saying yes and bank accounts

and a branch of the big silver maple falling on my roof.
I believe in the gray flannel pants of the therapist who

took them off, the room I shared with the other one
in Beijing, the woman who lives alone on an island

who cannot tell our story because she has forgotten it.
They say I always wanted to get out and I should go

back to church and not much else except that I was
the girl who got A’s and they wanted me to keep

getting A’s but then I got C’s and in that apartment
in Philadelphia I pulled the green and blue bedspread

off the bed and draped it over the kitchen table, made
a little tent so I could scream while the babies cried

and no one would hear—and you were gone then
but I don’t want to talk about that and me pushing

the cheap plaid stroller your mother got with S&H
green stamps waiting for another baby that I didn’t

want but when it came I did want it, such a beautiful
soft baby holding me and I didn’t know the seeds

of death were in him already. Do you know this, if
you are very good and do all the proper rituals

like making a different hamburger casserole every
night, scrubbing the tile in the bathroom on Saturday

morning, ironing all the pillowcases—that even if you
do this you will not get the prize of keeping your children

alive. Tell me why I love her again when I am love’s
executioner and dream I was a girl in a burn unit

who will not recover, tell me what will come from
the apartment on the second floor which is all blue

with a white bed as big as a small ship and a window
over a bathtub that looks out onto the tree I almost

backed into with my red Saab and the Dresden girls
on the mantle over the fireplace that cannot burn

anything. Tell me about the woman who lives there
who walks with a black cane and wears a blue sweater

and I wore one too that day though I never wear blue
and yesterday how I was the wind and she bound me in.

from Rattle #34, Winter 2010
Tribute to Mental Health Workers


Sharon L. Charde: “My younger son died twenty years ago in a mysterious accident in Rome; my older son graduated from college a week after his funeral and left home to live his life. I knew I was not needed as a mother anymore, I had burned out in my job as a family therapist and that to survive, I had to return to my first love, writing poems. This love and practice has sustained me more than anything else since then. When people tell me that my poems have affected their lives in powerful ways, that I speak in an honest and clear voice, that my grief supports theirs, I want to keep on writing and I do.” (web)

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