Still born

Thirty years

And still I miss

The feeling of you beneath me

I don’t have the dignity

Of turning the other cheek

For, looking in a shining piece of tin

See the scar upon my face, you hammered with

Your foolish words I chose to give an audience to

As we sat, me pregnant with your folly, you bursting to clear the table of guests

And press me right there, eating my Sunday best

It is easy to say .. you sated your evil tendencies

But I was laced tight, a willing dance partner

Throwing myself down your stairwell

Catching the foil stars you hurled

Wanting to pin you to sky

And you, watching clocks for the next dumb girl to pass by

I measured myself in inches and circumference

Not the length of love but its endurance

Which you stretched like new prophelactic, over my molting form

As I bore you no live children

And you filled me with last year’s seed

Still born

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Who shall love?

If you are not a beautiful creature

Is there love for you?

When the world appears bewitched by youth and eternal moment’s boiled to infuse

Who shall love?

Who shall love?

The imperfect and technically “past it”

When beautiful felt like;

The sound of heals clicking on marble

Then slippers

Then bare feet

Then silence

No attention for a certain shape, age, gaze

Consolation crows, grow your mind

Crack jokes

Have a sense of humor

Laugh at yourself.

Long before, boys fell in love with me first;

Because of an hourglass

A firmness

A tightness

A willingness

The measure of hips

And then later, aserbic wit

I say ignore the rules

Climb trees at sixty, chomping on cigar

Wear polkadots, rolling dice on roof tops

Make love in bramble hedges and countertops

We talk of politics and deep sea diving, the need for conscience, passion and chocolate biscuits

You didn’t need a perfect pair of legs or a tiny waist

Eventually you wanted a woman of four seasons

Who couldn’t hold her alcohol anymore and streaked across the lawn

A girl of seventy and four, mayflies buzzing in our ears

Who still beat you at arm wrestling and sang like an angel with grey hair

Opening her robe to your eager devour

For once upon, you were a youthful coward, chasing empty smiles

And now you lay in a woman’s arms marveling at her lines

The black and blue, and those she fought hard for, birthing children

Crossing her face like stars

More beautiful for their dance

On skin long past its prime and so fine

For a constellation is music over time

Then and only then, love breathes eternal

The look in their eyes

Walking around, you don’t even need to convince yourself you’re all right

such is the layer upon layer, you don’t even see, until it creeps up and then

blocking out the sun, darkness invades sight and everything is at once, changed.

I am standing beneath awning, the sun is nearly out, it’s a windy day and the chimes in the back garden keep a steady sound

as I have always been, I am attached but not part of, another dynamic, a family with their own ways of doing things

I bend to learn and listen, I smile when expected, at times I think I feel comfortable with my toes dipped in

he has sorrow etched on his face though he is still young, his eyes betray him and a slight quiver in his mouth when

she clearly doesn’t care

I want to ask her, what happened to cause the rift, but everything is fragile and tenuous as if we are tiptoeing around

a sleeping giant

since childhood I learned to pick up on what to avoid and what to leave untouched, the manners of an outsider

accutely atuned to other people’s needs and emotions

not quite an empath, I can tell when they need time alone, if I should make myself scarce

and all at once I recall, aged eight or so, doing just the same, sitting on a cold flight of stairs for many hours

picking at my shoe laces, tying and untying them, making stories with crumbs and the wrinkles in my joints

hearing their argument echo through the thin door

I am good at placating, massaging egos, staying invisible when necessary and picking up the pieces afterward

her eyes are flashing, she puts on a pair of high heals and I can tell what she is thinking though she would never say

she wants to run and pack a bag and leave and find someone else, anyone else

and his need is as palpable as paint vapor, she is strangled by it and her own indifference

I want to ask; You loved each other once, where did it start to fall apart?

do you think they’d even remember now? Unlikely. Too many years building walls

to keep each other out, they forget in their effort, the beginning of them and how

happy they looked in that photo.

I want to tell her, you have everything you need here, I can see it in his movement, it is as if he acts out the ache he feels

I want to tell him, if it’s going to be this way forever, pack a bag, leave before your heart turns to dust

I want to save them and mend them, and make it right

for the sake of the child whose toys we pick up and put neatly away, as if that

will save anything, or stop him from one day remembering

the look in their eyes

Of a child

When did you stop thinking

Your bike would be cold out in the rain

Your fish may feel lonely in its bowl

If you missed a step the pavement would swallow you whole

When did you stop caring?

If teddy was wrapped safe in his bed

Or crying over the story of an orphan, ask

Can we help them?

When did you cease

Being, that person?

I think we grow less up than down

If children’s hearts contain truth

Each year we move further away

Let us move backward then to find

The next step capable of returning

The adult to their former compassion

Growing toward not from, the child who asked

Will the ducklings miss their mother when they are grown?

Will you always be here to tuck me into bed?

If I pray for granny in heaven will she visit us again?

When I grow up I want to make all the sick children well again

And I can, because I have the pure heart

Of a child

Against the unknown world

They move together like quicksilver

indisipherable in pursuit

there is such a love in his eyes

her smooth hands cup his mouth

drinking the words he would gush

if they were not pressed tightly, one to the other

locked in an embrace

that gives life

quickening as signature is fluid

when she finds out, she imagines telling her daughter twenty years hence

the story of her conception;

your father and I loved you very much

we lay down by the fireplace, he took me in his arms

from this passion you were forged into life

clay breathed upon, bearing breath and soul

you were wanted, even before you chose

to fill us with yourself

my stomach grew and grew until

it was a tight drum on which to paint

the symbols of your dream

**

He moved in her, his eyes tightly shut

he thought of other women, he thought of touching himself

in the office toilet at lunch with folded magazine

and why such things happened when he had all he could ever want

here in his arms, still he betrayed with desires, ill-tuned to eternal love

when she grew fat and round he did not

wish to hold her quite so tightly, or touch her hot flushed pressing flesh

he thought of others, he got up early, and jogged his frustration into sweat

**

Don’t worry the doctor smiled, with a savage wink

as she labored and her face grew red and her hands sought his

and he wanted to run from the room and shove well fed nurse

against the wall and pour his horror of birth and future into her lipsticked sighs

don’t worry the doctor smiled, with a savage wink

i’m going to sew her up even tighter, it will be like

Christmas day when you unwrap her again

the quintisential “husband’s stitch”

and over his starched cloak and gown, the doctors grey eyebrows

went up and down and he, who was lost

lurched and threw up at the violence and the shame

of men and of women and of life and death, inequality and lust

**

then his daughter was born

fat and round and squalling loudly

if he could have interpreted those words, he felt they spoke to him a repromand

for his cowardice and his fears, imagining being a father

of growing up and settling down, of love and impossible challenges and joys

he saw his wife’s face, wet with sweat and hair plastered down

he felt more than he had ever felt, the emptiness of the past replaced

no longing to empty himself in the coldness of pornography as she slept

a lifetime from the day he first took her to bed and

stripped her of choice with impregnated seed

and now he knew

the fear of men is the strength of women

his daughter fixed him with swollen red eyes

watching him with a stearness that seemed to say

you can do this, you got this, you are not your worst thought

you can be who you want to be, you can be my father, you can love these women

you can direct our future, reshaping mountains

or fall into the arms of least resistance, worship the emptiness of hollow gestures

she seemed to be saying with her tiny fists and pursed lips

turn away from your shallow sport, take this road with us

he who once was weak, grew with love

those things that once were, no more

his resilience, their armor

against the unknown world

Expansion

Gaining weight used to feel

dangerous

body parts blowing up, smothering familiarity

she wanted to be in control of everything and nothing could be controlled

so she took what she could instead …

her own flimsy pounds of flesh

the shrinking and expanding of time

denial and suppression, weezing like old men

enraptured by ballet dancer who starves herself to death

if she ignored her bodies longing to transform, she stayed small

and boys could circle her waist and say; you haven’t changed a bit! She could believe the lie and retrace time

could still be a slip of a girl, wearing her old clothes from when she was free of the demands of adulthood and blood, blood that did not rinse clear even when scrubbed

and this she did, for far too long, for fear of else

for what more was she? Not a mother, not since hurtling down the stairs, pushed by love, she saw her baby break into knots of placenta and gore

now not sure of whom she had become, in absenting herself it was easier, to dwell in the old shell and not

expand

comfort in knowing one’s exact circumfrance

and how it would feel to place a hand upon her flesh

a control without anything behind it, empty strawman, left without match to kindle, burn and diminish

she stayed the same whilst the rest of the world changed

grew wider, grew taller, grew inside and out

she was a fascimile of her damp past

it wasn’t until a sickening reduced her to almost empty

where she rattled and she clacked and she was hollow cheeked and pigeon chested

then her heart flickered on and off and she knew

the danger of staying still, was too great

she ate, though the taste was gone and appetite nil

outgrowing her own well known shape, she became something new

it was a frightening feeling to find what she would be

now that she had turned the corner and let the adult in

would she be like her mother with tiny little legs and arms?

or more of her father’s broad shoulders and freckled stomach

she was nobodies lover and nobodies mother

it hurt to cut herself out of the place she’d been so long, though long stale

and try to break out on her own, one unfamiliar piece at a time

in the bath she would gaze at her new body

bearing the marks of where she had visited

the underworld and the center of the sun

burning and drowning simultaneously

Her chest resembled the teets of a tiger, her thighs wide and strong

Readied to climb mountains, burst dams, forge expectancy

nothing else seemed important least of all

if she fitted into or fitted out of

the places she used to belong

this was a new version

she was going to gain more

than mere pounds and stone

she was going to quit starving to remain familiar

and learn the value of expansion

Herself

She is, dismissed by men her age who

Gaze hungrily at girls their daughter’s age like

Wolves without pelts, urging toward light

Perhaps they think youth will keep them steady, as age creeps into their veins

But their heads, empty yet, of the carousel of experience

Her soft skin does not reflect the many places she will inhabit

A wisdom in her eyes will more than compensate for any lines

As they draw together in laughter and back again with the sketch of time

She may

Lament her losses but surely not regret the gain

Of a certain suppleness of mind

Hers will one day be, the confidence found over fifty winter’s more

She draws you in with her knowing, like familiar shore

It would be her bursting chest of pressed flowers, against my own, making greater indent of memory

Not a fledgling bird nor snared fox but the beauty of a falcon, gazing into distance

Her love would be measured then blown about the room in spirit form

To chase my wonder of her self possession

She stands in a gown looking out and I see

A bead of sweat we made, caught on her neck like a pearl

Even as I touch her she is untouchable, for her strength

Was forged in deep water and honed over the years like a well turned bell

Can be clearly heard, ringing us towards her

Back still straight and the scars of her living like jewels

She has brought life, she has survived beyond herself and the low imprint of convention

Free of such empty things she is now a lover released from expectation

To be at last

Herself