THE “C” WORD
By Monica Hall
There are certain lessons our parents teach us.
Things that we carry with us for a lifetime.
I have vivid memories of my mother’s staid face.
She would peer over her glasses at me, and
with all the earnestness she could summon,
she’d say: “never use the word hate”.
She was quite serious about it.
At the age of 8, I had the usual restrictions like any kid.
I was allowed to venture to the end of my block only.
The problem was a school built 25 years before I was born,
which was three blocks away, and they had rings!
Glorious rings which hung from a huge steel pole.
Those rings beckoned to me, though I could not reach them.
One summer day a few kids were heading over to the schoolyard,
And to my surprise, my mom allowed me to go with them.
The minute I entered the gate I raced over to the rings,
and with a strained hop was able to grasp the lowest ring.
I swung about clumsily and made it around once,
then fell to the ground, where I was met by a little girl.
She was a freckled child with piercing green eyes like a cat.
I thought she came to congratulate me
on my first time around the rings,
but instead she proceeded to pummel me with a closed fist
about the chest, stomach and arms.
I fell back onto a bench and she hissed “you took my turn”.
My eyes welled with tears, but I knew that one never cries
in front of kids at the schoolyard. Never.
When I could catch my breath, I walked casually to the gate,
then ran like hell to the street corner where I wept in solitude.
After I composed myself, I hurried home and my mom,
upon seeing a sizeable red welt on my arm asked what happened.
“I HATE her!” I fumed. “A mean girl hit me for no reason”.
And my mom replied with a very serious tone:
“don’t say hate”. “You can say you don’t like her, but don’t say hate”.
I have a letter that I have been writing in my mind for years.
I hate your effing guts.
You lurk around and ruin everything.
You strike at the cruelest of moments.
How dare you take innocent children.
How dare you afflict a young man who
has just been accepted to the school of his dreams.
How dare you wreak havoc on the young couple,
who just had their first baby.
I hate you Cancer. With every fiber of my soul.
I have a fantasy about you, Cancer,
where you appear as a person.
With all the strength I can muster,
I will kick your ass up and down my block.
My neighbors will shout: “call the police”.
“Monica has lost her mind”.
But I will yell “It’s Cancer”.
“He’s got it coming!”
My neighbors will join in the fracas.
“Take that!” they will shout victoriously.
And each of us will kick and jab with no holds barred.
That’s for Bobbie Jean, I kick.
And for Janice, I belt with might.
And for Jackie, I strike fiercely.
And now for Renellen, I jab.
And as you lay in a heap, beaten into the ground,
I ask permission from my neighbors,
That I may administer the final blow.
A round house to finish off this misery.
That’s for my momma, you asswipe.
The kindest soul who ever lived, and
who taught me not to hate.