Writing with Invisible Ink

Now that I have seen the diamondback rattler in the domain of children I see him again everywhere–the darkness notched between sidings and foundations, lassoed water hoses resting in the sun, tree branches in the grass, all become the skin and flesh and memory of the foolish man who held just the severed head of his deadly foe too close to human skin.

We keep the most dangerous pets coiled in emptied potato salad containers, hastily labeled with words too awful to write down in anything but

Invisible ink.


Ghost Child

To be clear you are all grown up now and living somewhere as I try yet again to excise what you have done to us all from pictures of beautiful children.

You were

You are a dangerous male child

But what you will be

Is mountains told to throw themselves

Into the Sea.

Mark 11:22-23 NIV

[22] “Have faith in God,” Jesus answered. [23] “Truly I tell you, if anyone says to this mountain, ‘Go, throw yourself into the sea,’ and does not doubt in their heart but believes that what they say will happen, it will be done for them.


I pull the elephant ears out of the water, one and then a handful and then none for awhile, risking dead fish and live snakes to find you. At dinner the little boy asks what miscarriage is and my answer is accurate but brief because why tell a little boy about lost siblings and the trees grown in their place or the way that forgetting is not better than carrying this

This memory of you dark, indelible angel, in the midst of all I hold dear.

Traveling Fast on a Spinning Planet

So young to be caught in a prisoner’s dilemma they give me vaguely concocted descriptions of a car we all know is fiction to cover for what we all know is true.

Take note of how young they are, intrinsically lovable despite their wanton ways. Can I will them to safety, to slow down for all of us–still alive, for now

Give the young bullet-fast toys; hope they survive

Hope we all survive while the 911 dispatcher asks–“yes, but what is your emergency ?”

Wanna quote Flannery O’–the life you save may be your own.

Child to Parent Violence

Nine years ago I sat in a ob-gyn office looking at a pamphlet on domestic violence. I thought my partner is not the problem, but I am a domestic violence victim nonetheless.

During that pregnancy my adopted daughter kicked me in the stomach. During those years she subjected me to verbal abuse, kicked, punched, and hit me. We called doctors, the police, mental hospitals.  Her anger was explosive and violent, but nothing she has ever done is worse than the things her brother did in secrecy.

Back then I did research. There was no support or process for parents attempting to pursue legal avenues of protection against abusive children.

I persisted. I attempted to get her charged with assault. I asked the police to take pictures of the marks she left.

They told me she was too mentally ill to be incarcerated. They told me to tie her up.

Juvenile court dropped the charges.

When I look back to the long-ago beginnings of my relationship with these two very broken people I see that their violence defined the relationship throughout.  When young children with stories of neglect and abuse act out we may think there are solutions for caregivers in consistency, therapy, research, and time.


I never found those solutions.  I found that their problems were bigger than us all, that I was lucky to have survived at all.  Despite all our good intentions the advice I wish someone had given me twenty years ago—

Run fast, run far.

The Common Era

We name the fox Kristofferson after the character in the Wes Anderson movie. He sticks to the shadows but when he emerges you know it is him–not a cat or stray dog, too vulpine to be anything else and we are worried because the kittens are in the woods somewhere while their mother is out.

What can I do?

Leave the children in the running car? Leave the headlights on? Turn on the flashlight? Stomp through the tall grass into no-man’s-land? Keeping eye contact with him all the while? As if I could just scare him off from where the young ones are?

…pray they survive the night.

To Govern the Night

The moon recites the prayer with me, tethered to a God who never sleeps Our Father, who art in heaven…where does the slivery-thin-orange moon go when it passes below the shoulder of the hill? To all the other insomniacs…hallowed be thy name…indeed You hear me, Maker of that smoke wisp moon, Maker of the metonymy of darkness, a body can rob a body of light until You are here …Thy kingdom come…thy will be done…among the sleepless…on earth as it is in heaven.