Lalli Mangum – “Bombs, Ink, and Autopsies”


Detective Brown hands me
the pen and the paper to write my statement on, and the ink glides much too easily. My hand begins to write faster than my eyes understand
what the words say. The only thing worse than holding in
a time bomb secret for 16 years is the moment you realize
it obliterated everything inside of you without ever having to explode at all. But this was that moment it finally did. And the truth burst its way onto one page. I start with what I know: name, gender, birth date,
date and time of incident. Lalli Mangum, female,
July 3rd, ’97, August 2002– all legal legits stern solemn, like I was writing
on my own autopsy report. The soul of a five-year-old
begins thumping in the center of my chest, and I mistake it for a heartbeat. She is beating so hard,
and the ink glides too easily. It makes a perfect,
clean line down my torso and splays me open
under the fluorescent lights. And it’s awkward, dare I say, painful to open up in this way because I’m still alive, and so is she. Her voice is wailing and bouncing
on the corners of this coroner’s office– I mean, questioning room. She takes the pen and writes. Name: Lalli McDolly, name, help, gender, sunflower, birthday, fireworks,
birthday, summer, birthday, pool party at Romena’s house, swimming suit ruined, ripped off. Date and time, now, right now. Date and time, all the time. And who’s got the time? “Alice in Wonderland” is on. My shirt is off, her father’s awake,
my father is at work. Romena’s asleep. The next portion says, “Please describe
in your own words what happened and any details you remember.” And I remember. But she and I do not know
what to write here. She and I want to cover this portion
in scribbles and doodles and tears and truth and truth
and nothing but the truth. But how do you write a truth
that turns you inside out like a forgotten sock
behind the washing machine, without just deciding
to leave yourself there behind the washing machine? And how do I write
or tell or truth or confess or say anything about the time Romena’s father sat me on top
of the washing machine without feeling like I’m inside
of a running washing machine? I wonder how I kept the silent weight
of all of this on a toddler and why it took me over ten years to lift this unnecessary
sarcophagus off my own back. And somehow, through all this spinning, coherent sentences
stitch themselves onto the paper. I remember writing a statement on a paper, cold and harsh and past tense, like the soul
of that five-year-old is dead. And she’s not. She’s still here, haunting and wailing
and rooting for me, praying for the ink to glide easily. I am still stitching myself
back together every day. But there’s no more ticking of time bombs, just the thumping and echoing. And she’s still here, she’s still here. (applause and cheers)

15 thoughts on “Lalli Mangum – “Bombs, Ink, and Autopsies”

  1. My story happened between the ages of 7 and 8 multiple times and with my older cousin not my friends dad. It took me 6 years to tell my story. I can relate and this poem made me cry

  2. This poem made every fiber of my being freeze in a strange version of panic within myself, this is so hard to hear but all so true.

  3. To that 5 year old you… you are stronger than you could ever begin to imagine. Thank you for sharing ๐Ÿ’š

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