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

Short respite

When I wrote about the grief inside myself

It wasn’t me I described

But you

The two of you who made the me

And then like rice thrown at midday wedding

Scooped me up and put me to boil down

On a high flame with no watchers

I burned to nothing

Leaving a sticky rim around the pan

Reminiscent of starch and glue

Like your clothes always pressed, clinging to your neck in hot weather

Or the piles of things he began and disguarded

I stepped

Out of the hot pan

Walked through greese and debris

Every step I took something stuck

Bits of dirt, jam, floss and mud

Moments

Pressed like thirsty flowers to dry flat between books

What would you have done differently, with the benefit of heindsight?

Too late for that ironic idiom, pass the parcel

Til you’re the last without a chair and resolve is bare

Just a quick ticking heart, searching in shadow

Unended furniture where they left, in a hurry to escape, what they had yet to learn

I was hungry for you to care

But you birthed me on sweltering tarmac and took off

Your quickening feet on fire

I melted into pitch and asphalt, rising

Like a badly fixed road will buckle and bow, emptying hunchback, the misshapen and malformed

Limping its circumference at night, skin tapping, indigo beetle hide

Like a fantastical shaman with shaded eyes of a moth and fingers of water

Dips his fountain pen, scrawls my fate in runic blood

You who were ill prepared and unwilling, gave up the burden of your consummation

To thrive or drown, two choices thrown with skittering dice

Take your place at the wheel of Fortune, await your turn

When the heat of days lessens and short respite from hurting

Can be found

Aren’t you?

When

The thick trunk of families, surges upward and onward

And the line thins out of impatient elbows

You stand as you always have

Alone

More conscious of their abundant overflow

At an airport without a ticket, watching throngs of souls

Connected and coming together, like migration encourages the swell and surge of birds riding warm air

Somehow knowing, they are part of a greater collective

And you stand there, in your well worn shoes

And your empty pockets ache, for someone to turn and say

Aren’t you with us?

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

One hand

s-l400

At fifteen a lewd boy, only 5’5 asked;

Will you pose for me with your legs spread?

She hadn’t shaved in three days, the stubble rubbed the backs of her calf where she pressed against enamel bath

A maelstrom in her eyes instead of pupils

He said; good, good, excellent, just like that … ba-aby

Now … Open them

And she remembered the first time she unfurled

Like those Chinese paper flowers that grow in water

A warm rose bud disturbed by prying fingers

She recalled the way unwanted thumb pealed her exposed

A fruit chewed on before ripening

The sting afterwards

Like she’d dried out all her moisture and hung like a salted fish to be slapped and dismissed

If she gave this boy, with sweat on his lip instead of hair, his hand down his pants yanking something terrible, a rolling storm, tattooing bruised landscape

His way would become her path

What would be next?

Can you scissor yourself over my friend and lower down like a stray bullet?

We’ll make money and you’ll have value

I’ll take care of you, afterward you can pretend it didn’t happen

We’ll smoke away the taste and I’ll move inside you until you release

Regret

It’s easier to prostitute yourself when nobody has your back and you didn’t learn how

To save yourself, to feel your worth

The sabotage within, so achingly familiar

If I do it’ll be like every other time I ruined myself over nothing, you say

Feeling deserving of the pain, shame is a funny fellow, makes you quite attached

When you’re adrift and running on empty

Who knew how easy it was to ruin a child?

Set in place, steps of greater sabotage

She could feel their sticky fingers on her thighs

The voices murmuring, it’s what you deserve

Sickness in a learned desire to be debased

On her knees being ridden like a horse, the riders

Grabbing her innocence, one handful of hair at a time

Til she was all used up and another empty set of eyes

Waiting for the next fix

She saw herself at thirty, dying in an empty room

And the boy who encouraged her now, high on himself and the vigor of youth

Didn’t know how easy it would be for her to tumble down the rabbit hole, he only thought of

Getting his cock sucked and how he could brag if she’d pose for his fantasies

She wasn’t his, she didn’t want to be the next hole, willingly bent over

She wasn’t a plastic doll or his fist, she didn’t exist for him to spank himself off

Her image was sacrosanct, her body inviolate

Her legs weren’t going to open and be his willing whore

Just because she felt empty inside and his thin flattery pretended to assuage, all the pain and losses

That wasn’t her path

He didn’t get to see her center or hold her up for inspection

The fine line between loss and lost is not so fine

She stood up for herself for the first time and learned

What we do, matters, impacts us, stays like a cancer

Life already hard, she needed all the breaks she could get

It began with leaving and not looking back

At the boy holding a camera in one hand