I affirmed part of your affliction
As a form of cognitive dissonance,
Now I’m sifting through my existence
For the identical resistance
Using the same standard of measure
Contradictions fall in line
Beneath the surface of being, of time,
Of the manifold truths we indwell
Yet I sense in me a sudden groundswell:
A concrete contradiction.
You praise me now, even when I confront,
Because you’re alone, suffering the brunt
Assault of age, and neglect, and the distortion
That’s thrown half your decades out of proportion:
So you give me allowance.
But in your childlike gaiety, your eager mirth,
Your reassessment of my worth
In newfound patience and admiration
Your words recall aged condemnation:
I brace for the familiar snarling face
And I wait. But the stakes are higher
For us both, you defend against the liar,
When I do not accuse- it is no lie if you believe;
Though it may be wrong, you don’t deceive
To speak as you are convicted.
And herein, my dissonance abides:
In the reflection of my face in your eyes
I learned the visage of my countenance
The vast heap of disappointments;
The praise for values I didn’t possess.
And now you show forth a foreign reflection
Heightened assumptions and affections,
And I feel artificially lifted, poised above the precipice
Of the inevitable descent and maleficence
Into the twisted told-you-so’s.
Your unexpected approval spins on the head
Of the thinnest dime- the life you led
Lasted longer than my mine thus far-
You were wed sixteen years before
It all collapsed.
So in a sense, we wait for the decline
Revealing I’m yours, you’re mine,
Our intertwined fates await the indication,
Your snarling vindication
For years of prophecies about my future
But I want to believe the contrary view:
All your prophecies were just you.
My girls and I can have a different narrative
Than the lineage of our heritage
Mother to mother to mother.
You hate your departed mother so dearly.
I never knew her; but there is clearly
A family resemblance in the line
My precious daughters committed no crime
And deserve a better inheritance than we give.
Perhaps for this alone, I embrace the risk
The tender exposure to the mental tricks
That once crippled my childlike hope-
For them I can cope
Or try my hardest to cope
With the dissonance of who I am,
Who I have been,
Who I may still be:
Your darling little unloveable failure.