Vertical

Let us hesitate

On the brink

Long enough for considering

This gentle hand

Tugging us forward

May wish to run

Lean and elongated

Against yoke sun

And you are no longer certain

Of anything, of yourself

Sickness has that tendency

It is the color blue

Like water tinged with poster paint

Oddly mimicking nature

Yet, artificially so.

I saw the future, in a girl on purple skateboard

Her pink extensions and pierced navel

Drinking Redeye with varnished lips

Showed no fear at the raspy world

I was in awe of her stamina

Was I ever able to balance so well, on vertical path?

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When we are supposed to laugh

She runs her hands along the grain, movement a stain

hearing rust loosen and turn to red and green exquisitely

grief lies her head slower in time

perhaps given enough, doors opening to learn

why she holds her hand over her mouth so long

as her sisters, once younger and afraid, nesting behind her skirts

flew from their hinged cages, they had less fear than she

though in truth it is not fear that stays her hand

but a lament she was born with, hearing in her crib, the press of tragedy

Like some will carry lanterns, light darkest paths, for others to step towards

as her sisters learn to speak new language and grow like hungry ivy

she feels the pit of her stomach open and a seedling sprout from within

it hurts so much to grow internally, like a miscarriage refusing to leave

she holds on to every moment as thick rope will choke, if you let it

she must drive it out of her

but how to divorce the parts necessary for survival? Retain a whole?

from those who seek to devour

as light will find a way into a closed off room

distinction slowly lost, leaving shadows to dance on clean tile

the smell of another day, unsure, it is about all time before, come to now

see her lying still, as untouched water in glassy gloom

how she wished to follow their burning quilled footsteps

higher into turquoise forest where even now, laughter can be heard

below surface where nothing stirs, but slow tread of one who is neither alive nor perished

but fragment awaiting its missing part

she thought so often it was you, and then her empty hands

demonstrate

the futility of wishing

for we are free only when, we claim nothing but the words growing in our gut

urging us to cry when we are supposed to laugh

The road

At first the road seemed seemed impassable

Such a long distance with no sighted end

90 pounds was

A hollow eyed effigy, struggling not to drown

100 pounds was

A sickened mouth, forcing itself to swallow and chew

110 pounds was

A hunger to gain lost appetite, swill of food laying heavy with each urged step

120 pounds growing muscle

Punching the fuck out of weakness and despair

125 the goal, she fought, her joints bloody and plastered together

When she arrived, her body, her mind, her vibrating soul, she stood and cried

At the distance she’d travelled, cracked knuckles captured in dried clay

Stretching like bad memories, bleached by unrelenting sun

In spite of this, still, a flower is able to bloom

Random cruelty

Her mouth

Had a tremor

Just beneath the surface

It spoke

Of the repression of horror

If she let it out

That creature would

Climb to the highest point

And start screaming, needful not of words.

She wrapped her arms around her chest

Feeling the absence of one breast

Her mom used to say

You forgot to grow into a woman, flat chested sparrow chick

Her boyfriend liked her angularity

It’s not very Latino, her sister decried

Shaking her own ample swelling bossom

She favored simple necklines and no bra, catching soft balls with callused hand

Then why she wondered

Did my breast betray me?

I never demanded anything of her

My children did not

Tug with hungry mouths on her unduly

Nor a lover, bite unkindly deep

She felt the tight, smooth scar

Like a flat knife lain on her chest, like unwanted medal

It seemed to hotly whisper

The curling, metal irony of us all

Without sufficient power to stave

Fate’s random cruelty

(For all women)

Endure

Along with recovery

I had wished

For one neighbor’s heart to heal, as he tried to mend a leak

Another, to survive the scouge of sudden cancer

For the little bird to find her red box

Fill it with branches and lay her eggs

Nestled blue against the hope of frail humans

For rebirth and warmer days

When the winds were the only thing to die

And maybe the scold in a voice, twisting the knife

Yes, wish it away, along with traces of fear

You have survived the winter, you are still here

The same curled toes and cold fingers, clinging on

If you don’t die, you live, and that’s what you find

As false friends fall and new are born

As spring gathers her skirts and grass turns from brown to hopeful green

As your neighbor touches your hand and his eyes speak

Of the simple gratitude of caring

You didn’t receive it where you thought it would be

There are branches higher up than you can see

Maybe the little bird right now is looking for her nesting

And just like you, she seeks the comfort of knowing

If you make your home warm and secure

They can huff and puff

But you will

Endure

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

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.