death of a turkey…

when i was a kid
there was so much violence
so much abuse
so much animal death
my pets gone–just like that
that i learned to disconnect
to stop loving
to stop caring
to stop bonding
and as an adult this continued
this disconnect
i had trouble with relationships
sure that they would leave
or god forbid they had self-destructive tendencies
it was too much for me
i disconnected
i could not bond
and i would try to have pets as an adult
but it was easier to hate them then to love them
love is a fragile thing
so easily killed
i was repulsed by neediness…repulsed by being needed
i closed down
shut off
i often wondered if i could ever even have kids?
was i capable of love at all?
sometimes i still wonder….

shortly after the above picture was taken, a raccoon killed one of my turkeys and injured the leg of another. i named the injured turkey isabeau and took her into my house. i dressed her wound, fed her blue berries and honey and put apple cider vinegar in her water and bathed her when she got too stinky.
months went on. spring turned to summer. her leg healed, but she stopped walking. her non-injured leg became palsied. one wing became disfigured by her always laying on the same side. i would try to put her on her other side–or in a sling–but nothing seemed to help.
and while her brothers & sisters grew huge and mature

she remained frozen in her juvenile state, a third the size of them.

i felt myself turn off. i mean, i cannot pinpoint the exact moment, but it happened. i started being annoyed by her. frustrated with her. dreaming at night that she finally got up and walked again, while watching every day as she just kind of flopped around. i admired her perseverance…but in the end, she just gave up.

i just wish i hadn’t given up first.

i thought i would be relieved when she died. she had become a burden…a difficulty…one more thing to take care of on a busy day. i mean, i knew she would die eventually. there was no way she could continue on like that–what if she tried to lay an egg–that alone would kill her–painfully. she was so vulnerable….
and now she is no longer suffering….

so why do i feel like i failed her? because my heart shut down? because i could no longer muster the energy to care about her even though i was still caring for her?

i don’t like that i learned to shut down when there was danger of pain by abandonment (be it death or whatever.) i want to feel the pain & live through it. i want my heart to warm back up and not be so quick to disappear.

i cried today. i did not expect to cry over my dead turkey.
but, like most mourners, i am not crying for her…i am crying for me.
as i try to assure my kids we did everything we could for her…in my cold heart i feel as if i should have done more…i wish i were capable of having done more.

 

my dead brother

having someone in your life die changes you as much as, say, having a baby.
i would not be the artist i am today if i had not become a mother. i would be a different artist.
and i would not be the person i am today if my brother had not been killed eight years ago today. i would be a different person.

my big brother…sigh.
he introduced me to movies. that is one way i remember him. he took me to see raiders of the lost ark when it was in the theaters and i was all like, “this movie sounds stupid.”
and then i was all like, “that was the best movie ever!”
he took me to see the empire strikes back when it came out
and i remember as we walked back to the car after the movie, he said, “it’s leia. they are talking about leia.”
and i had no idea what he was talking about until return of the jedi.
he brought a copy of terminator home from college and as i watched it, he would say, “surely he’s dead now” every time they thought they had destroyed arnold schwarzenegger.
he introduced me to one of my most favorite movies ever blade runner.
and to another dytopian influence a boy and his dog.

self2

these two pictures were done for a drawing class where i was supposed to do two self-portraits that were meant to be hung together. the top one is from a photo of me as a baby with my brother mike.
the second one is a self-portrait of me in tribute to the polaroid taken of sarah connor  at the end of terminator.

his life and his death are both heavy influences in who i am today.
sometimes i don’t know how to feel about that.

here is a poem i wrote in a writer’s workshop about it:

heavy

when someone close to you
dies
it becomes part of your description
she has brown hair
a nice smile
and her brother is dead

birthdays are the hardest
his last one
i didn’t know
it was the last
his voice sad on the telephone
my pledge to keep in touch
this time

we live in a world
where I can obsessively search for
intimate details of his death
available in short video
burning plane
gray matter splattered on a playground
his last words, “oh, fuck.”

notorious IT guy for the other side
the forrest gump of stolen elections
everything reminds me
of him
the sound of a single engine  plane
sad songs on the radio
politics, christmastime, and charismatic men

i drink irish whiskey this time of year
but it was scotch at his wake
four years now
four years since the last election
four years since the plane crash
a conspiracy theorist’s wet dream
murder republican style

when someone close to you
dies
do you let it redefine you?
hello, I’m connell
a mama, a student, an artist
let me tell you
about my dead brother