Annul, 1990

1988 garden drawing0001

When you came to my room today

while I sat drawing pictures of dream gardens

trying hard to still the madness

I thought maybe you had decided

to listen at last.


Nothing’s been the same since the time

you waited until he wasn’t here

to tell us this:

In order to get married in his church

your marriage with Daddy

must be annulled.

“What does that mean?” Sister asked.

You sighed when you explained

it’s like saying on paper

your marriage never existed.

A new pain twisted

when you told us

Daddy already signed that paper.

Why didn’t you ask us first?

Shame stung me like a wasp—who am I now?

Dare I whisper

that dirty word—a bastard?

My fury burned inside

when you agreed

God’s Word has no such rule.

But your word was final.

After you left the room

I felt a lingering bitterness

like broken aspirin on my tongue.

I can’t wash it away

even with a gallon of water.

I have to eat and eat

until the bad taste is covered over.


I haven’t offered to help you

shape hundreds of cream cheese mints

or decorate the centerpieces

or glue pearls on your dress.

You haven’t asked or maybe

you’ve been too busy to notice.


Today a flash of hope sparked in my heart

as you stood at the door.

But when you narrowed your eyes

my hope quickly turned to ashes.

You talked to me with a sharp tone

as if I had caused trouble.

You demanded that I accept your marriage

whether I like it or not.

You spun around and slammed the door

before I could say a word.

My eyes brimmed so full with tears

the garden drawing became a blurry mess,

just another impossible dream world.

I put my face on the dresser

and sobbed in the darkness of my folded arms.

But I caught my breath remembering

God collects all my tears

in his special bottle.

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