the retcon

when Ruth was young,
many people told her
something she felt or saw
or heard or even smelt
was not true. they did this
for many reasons, not all
nefarious – sometimes
her senses were overly sharp
to soothe their self-esteem –
and so
to make themselves
feel better, they told her lies
that made her
doubt herself.

Ruth’s truths
were inconvenient,
so they were denied.
she, not knowing any better,
accepted this false narrative
and thought herself crazy
for perceiving things
that weren’t there.

but now she is looking back
and seeing what would have
been crystal clear
to anyone over the age
of twenty. she’s not crazy,
or at least not
that way.

it really did
smell like bacon
more or less all the time
in her stepmother’s kitchen.
she made it in the microwave
in the mornings
and the scent lingered
all day. so what was just
a little white lie –
or someone else
getting used to it,
so no longer being able
to smell it – is blackened
in memory by
the shade thrown over her

now comes
the retcon: go back
to that time and tell
that girl that she’s not crazy,
she’s right. heal the scar
left by having to deny
her lived experience
to fit into someone else’s agenda.
it doesn’t matter
why the lie was told.
reality proves Ruth’s senses
are accurate. gaslighting
can only be fought
by turning up the lights
and telling the whole truth.

Published by

R. Brookes McKenzie

what fresh hell is this

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