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Five Poems by Jean Varda

by Jean Varda

Photograph of Two Sisters

We were like glass and he broke us

we were open as water fine as milkweed

and he damaged us.

I can see it in your eyes whose bit of heaven

utterly so gentle was fractured

and the long wounds of a lifetime began,

those early dawn hours he slipped into our beds

all the Disney Lands and Rogers and Hammerstein’s

were slammed against the walls

and a lifetime of recovery was hatched

in the ensuing silence.There is a way the mind can heal itself

of something too awful to remember

it’s like a membrane that grows over the cracks

of fear so wide and deep they consume you

till you no longer exist

and the only thing that identifies you

as a separate being with heart and mind and soul

the only thing that takes away the immense

terror of those nights of memory gone blank

is your mother’s embrace

it was that embrace that established your existence

and stopped the rushing spinning panic.

He left his prints on two sisters

a piece of their childhood was removed

they wore a shroud of thin material

laced with invisible splinters of glass that always hurt

and the calm gentleness of women

gave back their existence.


All I Know

All I know is the taste of morning

in my mouth, all I know is this longing

for water, this sweating skin

this empty stomach, going nowhere.

All I know is this aching chest,

that tried to love him,

these arms that wrapped around him,

these lips that gently kissed him.

All I know is the loneliness

of this motel room

and the long road

of broken dreams.


How to Pray

Maybe there is a prayer

that has no words,

you just urge with your

whole being,

your mind

your body

your spirit

with every cell

every molecule

that the aching and suffering

will stop

and everything

will be alright,

that there will be

no more pain or sadness,

you urge upward

with your hands

with your lips and eyes

with the sweat

of your skin,

you urge with your breath

with your tears

with the emptiness

in your stomach,

there are no angels here

no Jesus

no father God

with flowing white beard

and silver locks-you would never permit it.

There is only your wordless

prayer and the silence that



It Never Happened

It was all in your mind, he never got in your bed

and touched you in the night.

You imagined his hairy chest his breath on your neck

his smell on your sheet for days.

The gasping for breath the calling for your mother

who didn’t even know because it never happened.

It was all in your head you made it up,

he would never do a thing like that,

a hard working white collar Dad,

who smelled of cigars and gin, who told you

you were selfish and would never be anyone.

Who told you, you were not smart and just wanted to

sleep with boys. No need to go to college and be

someone. Just have sex and babies and work as a waitress.

It never happened you never existed you were only a

dream, a memory sealed off that fought to break out

under the dry scars that never would heal.

And you sought to repeat what he did to you

over and over and over...

until you were so broken that part of you was dead,

and it didn’t matter that it never happened

it wasn’t real, you weren’t real or the insane

memories that broke your spirit, and crippled your sister.

That you grabbed and held onto because they were all you knew.

They molded you, became you, carried you through your life

on a lie. And now you sit in the barren landscape of all

you could have been if he hadn’t touched and made you disappear.


The Rape of Persephone

You cast a sticky net with

your sweetheart phrases

your deep soft voice,

you lured me in and

just as I became yours,

your spider teeth sank

into my raven tattoo

telling me I was beautiful,

wowing my artwork my poetry,

saying you wanted me in

your arms forever.

In that moment I became yours,

I strangled in the net of you

and didn’t care.

You drained me, all of me

my mind, my soul, my heart,

you caste a net of greed

that stopped my breath

as I felt your spider teeth

sting deeply and remembered

the other you, your hairy chest

and angry eyes, insisting I open

to you, squeezing my breath out

of me as you pressed down into me

and broke me your hot breath in my ear,

your fingers groping my secret places,

till I shattered and disappeared,

till I became blind and numb and dead

till all I could see was pieces of me,

scattered and all I could feel was pain.


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