IT'S DARK IN HERE
by MADILYN AMICO

I am trapped within a place  

that has no intentions of releasing 

me— there are no walls, no exits:  

a place I do not know, but my mother  and

father are in here and I’ve been  running

from their silhouettes that remind me of

my own but Mother begins to say,  I know

the way out, say this is your  father’s fault,

not mine. 

I say it’s all his she turned out this way,  an

unfit mother and suddenly the place  I’m in

grows darker, I hear my father’s voice:  No I

know the way out, say your mother  is a lying

piece of shit. My skin flashes  with heat when

the pain of the past 

tugs at my ears— 

I remember when you crushed  

pills on my desk and snorted  

them like air— Oh, how the past  

slowly creeps in, my lifetime of thinking  

you loved drugs more than me, how hard  

I tried to love you so that your souls  

stayed with me— 


Mother’s words begin to choke me,  

Father breathes my name and says,  

I found the light. Say you love us  

again. I say, my love for you has never  

died, but lost time is the noose  

that killed me—  

Something happens when I say  

this truth, my body recoils—

 

All at once I feel all the times 

you betrayed me; my young 

cheek pressed to the stained 

glass windows as I begged  

God to bring you home safe to me. 

I even remember how your bar  shaped pills sparkled when crushed  between the backs of my books; how Father’s face looked when his eyes rolled back, his nostrils soaked  in white. 

Do you remember the time you thought I was Mother? I gasped for air, your  hands wrapped around my neck? I ask Father as the darkness 

reminds me I am still trapped in the pain of the locked past.  

Say you remember, Father; say you wish you could take it all back; say, you never stopped loving me even after  ten years apart. 

Light seems to break when I say this— I ache for it to take me out of the place  that mocks my trauma. 

Trauma is one thing that remains  forever, but I am the light, the sudden  discovery of my thoughts.

SEA, SWALLOW ME
by MADILYN AMICO

Her pointer finger  

pushed the sand  

deep down as she  

wrote Goodbye Mother 

in large curly letters,  

making jitter-bug  

eyes at the swirling 

ocean and its sky— 

             A pink and orange sun,  

             like a hole began  

             to fade as clouds  

             cascaded down,  

             down, down until  

             they reached the  

             horizon— until  

             her eyes wandered  

             to bait popping off  

             crystal clear surfaces. 

As night settled in,  

her eyes got lost  

and her brain  

filled with saltwater  

because the beach  

had always been  

a place one goes 

to forget, but  

a farewell for  

a mother who  

still hadn’t died 

yet is a lot like  

the tide—  

                 it swallows you whole. 

AUTHOR'S NOTE:

This collection moves in the same ways that I have moved through trauma. It is an attempt to understand  how trauma often manifests in new ways. It can be that of constantly feeling like something is missing;  that the dissection of you might feel like the only way to show the world what’s really inside you. But it  can also be a beautiful thing; it’s a discovery of self and deciding when it feels right to take ownership of  what has happened to you. It’s the navigation between guilt and acceptance; it’s the navigation between  pain and healing. This collection is me at my core, constantly finding new ways to make meanings out of  memories— turning those into feelings.