Exile — Poem from Suede: A Collection of Poetry

Exile

As soon as I showed signs of rebellion—

drinking, missing curfew, talking back—

my parents sequestered me to my

second story room where, in winter,

I could see my breath. It was an exile I came to love:

four windows, the moon peering like a voyeur

through pink floral curtains—so far—

yet close enough that I could steal its light to sketch.

In summer, a small window fan chopped my friends’

voices from the streets below, drew up that second flight,

a light breeze, so I could breathe.

When the smell of dinner wafted up the stairs,

I trudged to the kitchen where my stepmother,

sipping tea, said, No one wants you here.

Back in my room, I sketched John Lennon—

imagined that he’d written “Mother

just for me—and Marilyn Monroe,

another girl left by her mother who made me think,

someday, I might see my name across

a marquee. But at sixteen, freedom

and fame were as distant as the stars.

So, I stole a Valium—yellow and round—

from my stepmother’s jewel box, held my breath

and swallowed it down, then lay across

my bed spread, drawing the moon.

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