Gaslight - Poetry - Teal Swan Jump to content


About this poem:

A poem Teal wrote to herself about her mother

She fixes her truth

around your neck

 as a noose to hang you with.

But she will not throw you overboard.  

She will wait for you 

to suffer enough 

to jump yourself.

She wants your death to be 

one more part of her story 

of martyrdom…

Of how good a mother she was,

despite how bad you were.

“Are you trying to tell me I am insane?” 

You will ask her.

“It’s what I’m trying not to tell myself” 

She will say.

Just like the movie

Just like the play


Perspective is a universal curse 

of the separate.

And the study of it,

the curse of those 

it has maimed.

Is it a gift 

that you have survived that maiming?

A gift to have survived

the bayonet of her tongue

the howitzer of her eyes

the nerve gas of her touch?

Or is it a curse?

Have you even survived it?

Or are you still waiting there

with that noose around your neck

and one day

you will jump?

For every hurt she caused you,

she tells you 


you are not hurt

or you have hurt yourself

or it is your fault that she did it.

And a part of you believes it.

Your self-trust is carrion

at the bottom of a shallow tomb

that she dug for you 

with her own two hands.

Maybe you hate yourself 

because you let it happen.

You let her take an eraser to your memories 

and try to re-write them.

You let her draw devil horns 

on your reflection in the mirror…

Because to try to be close to her, 

you had to turn against yourself.

You know what happened.

You know what you saw

and heard

and felt.


her self-concept 

is an enamel she wears

over her eyes

 to never see you.  

The story she tells about herself

is a bulwark she erected

over her heart

 to never feel you.

She would gladly choose

a positive story of self 

over her own daughter.

And she did choose.  

If they handed you a sheet of paper 

before you jump

and asked you why you jumped,

there would only be one word on that paper.

And that word is:



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