Her tiny breasts, dancers curved back

Silver earrings, steel grey hair, wet black eyes

We talk around, our varied folded desires

Hers may be, driving home in dusty truck to

A brown man who works with his hands

He can lift her and they dance at dusk, beneath solstice blossom

She feels she’s come a long way, her reedy soul throbs

Through back roads with weary curves, street lights illuminating her angular shape

And my desire is a velvet flame, like slow monarch flutters, trying to keep pace with winged migration

She is the swelling of a slow breathing, southern land

Shimmering in undulate mountains

Emptied of life, save thin cayote, sharp against moon

I am low to earth, crawling toward her wrist

Breathing the pulse of a woman, her careful sensuality

Turning in darkness, multilayered

Impossible to tame


This wide world

marthagraham1It is lovely

Watching you sleep

Perchance to dream

And with the late snow storm

Whitening outside like hungry baker

Spilling his bag of flour

We cocoon ourselves

Close by spitting fire

Casting spirit animals on chalky walls

The photos of your ancestors

Their ink held eyes glaring

I fear they may not understand

Our kind of intimacy

Their world scrapped tenderness

For raw knuckled survival, no time for choice

Yet we knead our own rise with weary elbows

Perhaps the nature of love has changed clothes

And now wears matching nightgowns, joining toes under blankets

Reading books with curling corners, still watching with appreciation

When like a slip of shimmering glass

You get up to draw the curtains

Only the sound of falling snow

Hushed against our warm roof

Can be heard in this wide world


You are beautiful

Though you may never have known it

I do.

When we met, it was as if everyone else became less important

Because you were a lovely, wild satellite

Spinning above me

You look in the mirror and see labels affixed

Ugly, worthless, failure

And I see none.

Sometimes I want to learn to undo

The outcome of those years before I met you

To show who you really are

Minus the words that caused you pain

You are in every way

A creature of the ice and mountains

Your eyes burn into me like warm coal

Your fantastical mind unfolds

And I follow in your every creative wake

If you were earth and clay you’d breathe warm life

If you were a lake you’d have a golden light on your surface

If you were snow, you would fall, in slow motion

Wetting the eyelashes of us

Who look up in wonder

You are those forces of nature

You are color, stained permanent

The white tip of a hawks head, flashing against dipping moon

All these things

Are you

For all

Before, it would vex me when my nose ran and I didn’t have a tissue

when the tap dripped and no matter how I jiggled it, the drip drip drip would perpetuate, leaving a little rust stain, impossible to clean

when the cat would kick his litter out and eating fast, his food would spill, over the side, as he bent to consume just to again use and befowl

his cycle of eat/pee/poo seemed deliberately artful as if should he speak he’d say; that’s what I think of you

I would be annoyed at myself, when I forgot to latch the garden gate after mowing

and at night hear the sound of things moving, wondering at the fragility of life, should something creep up and strike

how easy to be hit by speeding car or thunder bolt, I spent far too long worrying the clouds of their impending storm

before, I would stand in front of tiny mirror, angled at my waist-line muttering things, without knowing how shallow I’d become

the baubles and the bells and whistles, trappings of someone as yet to acknowledge herself

just the illusion, the dress, the costume

I built castles and didn’t consider the ground

I forgot the child’s dear wish to fly and thought only of earthly options

my head was packed with good sense and no dreams

it mattered more that I possessed signs and wonders than to be real

in time as our tinsel fades and the corners of our smile grow brittle

when challenges mount formerly wrinkle free forehead

we stand so far from truth we could not hear if it shouted

come back from the festival, where drunk on yourself you see

only reflections of you in the carnival mirror of the sea

spend time stripped of your attachments and awards

they serve no purpose when they matter not at all

stand a while with nothing, sense the pleasure of a day

born only once

the joy of survival

a moment without pain

where like children we find wonder

In those days of simplicity beneath the sun

before we learned to live so thin, nutrition coming from emptiness

before it would vex me that the bulb needed replacing, garbage taken out, the dried remainder of eggs did not come off breakfast plate

and now

I smile when for a moment I am peaceful and the lap of night winks closed for another day to unfold, the first strain of pink ushering dawn

and hope

for it takes only one change, for all.

Fixed on open door

If you said today

Run away

I’d reply

I’m too old of heart for taking chances

And yet

If I could leave behind

These footprints of hell

I’d turn my bag inside out

Leave the clothes that made me and now don’t fit

They can hang on tree limbs for another girl

Who hankers after fushia and magnolia

If you can live without

A stomach

I’d set mine free

And empty as a cloud, run

In your direction toward the sea

Where salt spray would take the last

Residue of this awful time, turning back horror

Remind me of joy I once took as permanent

Clamboring through live oak, like fairy folk,

Rays of light like stars shine down from sky

Happy dogs, wet with run, tongues lolling, espie March rabbit

The thin stream between content and crestfallen

Just one turn of fate and all you cherished is gone

Reclaiming yourself somehow, among the fallen

How can you expect to thrive when pain halts every nuance?

A burden you do not know how to lift, for it

Wakes you every dawn with insisted sickening

And if you could, you’d disguard the parts that betray you

Run into the heartlands with nothing more than release

And the long legged stride of a creature unwilling

To be shared

For you are a child of this world and no harm is meant

To slow your step, as you cleave toward pilgrimage

One flat foot in front of the other

Setting prints in ochre mud for generations

Where they will ask, how did she keep trying?

Despite the steapness of the trail

And the lapse into despair, how did she

Keep her compass set?

If you said today

Run away

I’d reply

I’m too old of heart for taking chances

And yet …

One foot follows freedom even as the other

Chaffs against chain

It is in my nature, to seek the wild

Among nature, reclaim, loss of liberty

Trying to pin me to insect board

Dry up my dreams, pack away the urge

You haven’t claimed all of me

As long as a part stays

Fixed on open door

I will in time defeat this shackle

Turning into a bird

Threading my flight far

From your waning power.

If you said today

Run away

I’d reply

I’m too old of heart for taking chances

And yet

I want the girl who was just there a moment ago

Who stood on tip-toes and wore clothes twenty years too young

Who didn’t brush the back of her hair and ate with her mouth lolling

If it were a matter of wishing myself better, I’d sell it all and start over empty handed

Reclaim the lost self, in the strange soup of sickness that makes enemies of us

I want to wake up and be, a girl of air and sea and breath

I want to feel whole and no longer racked by hurt

Go forward in time and reclaim what is lost

make me well again, said the child, in the girl, in the woman.

All we ever are

Remember when

Prediction wasn’t predictive text

It was submersion

Lying still on the bottom of the swimming pool

Blinking upwards at frantic milee of kicking legs

Oh what a noise we humans make

Prediction was the rune you gave me at seventeen

The ink of your influence still in my blood

Riding the ferris wheel in Ireland, watching ourselves convulse

I could smell you on the old letters I kept until last year

I could guess what you’d be doing and what color you began to wear

As things changed for us both, still we stayed tethered

By our invisible dive and the angle of seeing the world

Without air.

There’s a little known secret

in the recess of a soul, put there before birth

find strength from suffering, then appreciate the good days two-fold

and when the time comes for a long hot walk

the road forks

one direction takes you back in a circle

where forever you’ll lament the reunion of your despair

the other road is perseverance, filled with danger

so high it goes, you cannot be sure of air

to breathe, you reinvent gills and return to the source

brine and water, that’s all we ever are.