Patchwork

The moon never makes any light of her own but bounces it back. She’s all listen and no talk, in that way, like having a conversation by yourself. But she’s a good listener. I tell her everything when I am laying on my back on the floor of a car that isn’t mine, that will never be, mine, or anyone’s really because some things never belong to anyone, they come and go when needed like the sun, or the water bottle that always seems to lurk in the back of a glove compartment or the heavy feeling in your chest when you miss one step on a staircase or your mother leaves you a voicemail to tell you your grandmother died.  

No one owns this car. It is only for Christmas tree shopping and moving furniture, for taking the seats out so you have enough space to spread out a blanket and watch the fireworks with your best friend in fourth grade or with the man who raped you sophomore year. When you go home for summer break your father wants to take you to a bonfire. You will try not to think about who’s car you’ve seen it in and yet, you are sure this is the bedspread that covered the spare bed that your grandmother kept for you. It is the half-finished quilt your mother started during the fuzzy beginning of your memory this blanket has always been where you needed it, where you didn’t want it. You spread it on your dorm bed in the piss-poor light that forces its way through the tightly drawn shades, too afraid to turn on the light. 

You have never told your mother, but she has known it would happen since you were a child, tried to prepare you for it, tried to teach you to save yourself even though she knows you would not choose to because we never do. She must know, the way women always know, the way that all your friends make eye contact, take a headcount in the bathroom before leaving a party. Maybe my family knows better than most. We have always been women, always been witches even if no one admitted it before me, I was raised in a family of truly killable women and they know what happens to witches. How can we face our mothers after everything we have let happen to us? 

I believe that women’s bodies know things better than their minds, things we are born knowing, like when the streetlights will come on and the shape of love, the way it should feel, like a soft light on a cloudy evening in that part of summer that is overripe, just before fall, when I reek of booze and cigarettes, neither of which are mine. I cannot remember quite how I answered the question and I can’t decide if that’s my fault. How many times can I be wrong before I decide to learn. I cannot remember if his tongue tasted like scotch or saltwater and I think it is going to kill me.  I wish that women would learn to forgive themselves. I wish that women would stop being all listen and no talk, all expectations of forgiveness. I wish I thought I was a woman.  

I wish I hadn’t promised to be stagnant for him. I wish I didn’t make promises I never meant to keep. I wish I didn’t have so much bleeding left to do. Maybe if I had kept my shape, he wouldn’t have lost his grip on me so quickly. Maybe I should thank the moon for teaching me to wax and wane but maybe she’s seen my phases already, she is all watching and never objection, but that is good for keeping secrets the way he stopped to check his collar for my perfume before leaving. I hope that bitemark on his shoulder never fades I hope he’s buried with it the way that I will be buried with the blanket he keeps in the back of his car, the way I have been wrapped in it since, waterlogged and drowning my chest is always filling and never full, water always pouring from my mouth I tell my friends I have an anxious stomach but I never flooded until I met him. I have never trusted a thought as much as that flip in my stomach, the salt on my tongue but the limbic system wants what it wants, enough to ignore the way his name made me want to vomit, the way this blanket will never stop smelling like remembering.  

When I was a little girl, my mother wanted to make a memory quilt. She would gather the remaining shreds of ripped-up overalls, a piece of her wedding dress, my softball jersey from 6th grade. The last patch we cut from the curtains that hung in my grandmother’s house when we emptied it, the curtains my sister and I made when I was nine. The quilt sits, unfinished in the back of our closet but I cannot blame her. Women are full of unfinished projects and my family is full of women, fractured and separated that do not speak to one another and what is the point without a matriarch. My mother’s daughters are fractured women and I aim to be the sharpest but I cannot cut this blanket from my chest, I can only rip it occasionally-- This blanket is full of patches, like my jeans, and the family towels, and the throws my great-grandmother left us, every little patch only makes a thing better, more colorful. My family is full of craftswomen, makers without time to make become compulsive fixers, maybe that is what’s so wrong with all of us, we cannot help fixing things that are better left broken I tried so hard to fix you and got so goddamn close and you ripped me in half, down the middle as thanks. I do not know how to fix this one myself. I do not know how much bleeding I have left to do.  

I’m sorry. Because one of us has to be sorry and we both know it won’t be you. Because maybe I should not be deciding what or who needs fixing, deciding that I deserved to be harmed no matter where I lost myself. Maybe we should learn to fix ourselves. Maybe I will teach my daughters that you can forget without forgiving, that you do not need to forget in order to fix. Maybe I will teach them to revere their remembering. Maybe I will teach my children to recognize the saltwater in a compliment, to let broken things lie, to not make promises they don’t want to keep, to recognize the blanket beneath their beds.  

I know that no one owns this blanket. It lurks in a closet of every house that I’ve dwelt in, I’m sure it is in houses I haven’t, on the bottom shelf, everyone reaches around it for fonder fabrics but how long can I pretend that it isn’t there. This blanket is full of remembering-I can trace its patchwork pattern to every hard day, to every passing warmth. This is the blanket of fond memories. It is the blanket my grandfather wrapped me in when I was born, the blanket my mother held me in at his funeral, a blanket that I’ve carried for the great-great-great-grandmother that I share my name with.  

Between the moon and me—I want this blanket to be covered in nail polish stains. In my roommate’s perfume. In the lipstick I stole from my mom. I want to find a way to wash the blood out. I want to make love on this blanket without feeling guilty after, I want to lay on it and watch the fireworks, alone. I want to learn that I deserve a rest occasionally. I want this blanket to be full of holes and patchworked together because I cannot bear to part with it, I want to lay on this blanket beneath the moonlight with my friends and remember their faces and not the things that have happened here and yet I want it to still smell like the spare room my grandmother kept just for me. To get rid of a blanket so many women made, with so much love would be sacrilege.