My Drinking Dream Of Helen T.

Even though I know that endings are as natural as rivers,

I was missing you

So bad,

Missing the face I had come to love and count on.

How was I to know

You would actually come back?

Even though this time was different,

Even though this time we stood apart,

Even if clear-eyed and not unkindly.

When you came back,

I wasn't the girl you remembered.

I was turning one last trick in the grey dawn,

And even though that long line of others back through the night had not been my choice,

This one was.

I had thought, I can use the money to buy myself something nice,

And so that's what I was doing when you found me.

Disappointment seen on a much-loved face is acid to the soul;

It wasn't any of the rest of that night that broke me--

It was your heart-shaped face

And your kindness, afterward, anyway.

By the next night,

You had gone--

And I was drunk as a nun on the body and blood

When I decided to go see you one last time.

I left, barely noticed by the other girls,

Who were all





Than I was.

No one would have thought that a fucked-up Bo Peep like me could steal a car so easily,

But soon I was on the road

With a little pretty book in my pocket

Whose pages were painted with the best of me.

I jumped curbs, ran lights,

And made it through the blurry world, wondering why the wheel seemed so loose

And onrushing objects so near.

You were at church with your family for Easter.

The ushers caught me at the door and made me dress in male drag, like a groom or a porter--

I couldn't get the tie right,

And my neck didn't fill the collar,

But drunken detachment and the desire to see you made me care/not care

Enough to wander inside and search for your face as if it were an icon.

I never did find you,

Though I felt you there, with your husband and your neighbors and your place in the world.

It was so terribly hard to focus my eyes,

And I knew I looked ridiculous

And would never fit in there, in your world,

So I gave up and left

With the little book still in my pocket.

I had wanted to show it to you,

Every perfect page--

That had been the whole point,


And to say, to the face I loved so much,


And, through tears,

"I'm sorry."



Daryl said…
Just catching up .. I am not sure even after reading them both several times which affects me most so I am calling it a draw ... really touches a lot of chords.
Mama Zen said…
Shay, this is brilliant. Honestly, I think that it's one of your best.
Anonymous said…
I second Mama Zen.
Very powerful. My heart weeps for the girl. Unbelievably touching - thank you for sharing it.
Scarlet said…
How terribly sad, but beautifully expressed.

"No one would have thought that a fucked-up Bo Peep like me could steal a car so easily..." I love that. :)

My favorite line:
"Disappointment seen on a much-loved face is acid to the soul;"
My favorite so far.
Riot Kitty said…
You want to make me cry, don't you?
Beautiful though.
david mcmahon said…
By far the hardest word for most people to enunciate is ``Sorry''.
Jannie Funster said…
Oh Shay, Shay.

Shay, you are a true gift to this world.

By your blood do we read the mysteries woven in stars and Easter baskets.

By your words do we soar and stumble towards some version of ourselves we never even knew was possible to exist.

By your tears do we hear the flowers cry.

And the rain laugh
Fireblossom said…
Thanks, everyone, for your kind comments. I was missin' my Helen T. :-/
(Kind of lost with the 'Helen T' thing. did i mention i come from a town of 7000. we don't have many books. i ate three of them before i realized they were for reading.)

but i DO categorically love this. your poems are more like lovely adventures. i know i'm going to be entertained every time. even though this one was clearly not a happy journey, it still took me for a ride.
T said…
I have no words, except that you are Brilliant Shay!

You bring your gift to all of us, by sharing your words.

This made me cry.
mac said…
Thank you, Shay.
Anonymous said…
I love the opening:

"Even though I know that endings are as natural as rivers,
I was missing you
So bad" ... Such a perfect touch to italicize "So bad."

Another great line: "And I was drunk as a nun on the body and blood" ... I also like the list that follows.

The whole section about the ushers trying to make you fit into a costume was powerful.

Whew. "... and your place in the world." This makes me wonder about yours, and all the feelings you were trying to process. Was this really a dream? And is/was she really married?
Fireblossom said…
Flipside--yes, it was really a dream, and yes, Helen is married, though I haven't heard from her in a long time.

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