Wrung

I didn’t trust myself to hold on

when water breached and ice tore, sun burned, voices howled

when corridor echoed with the corrosion of a moment

elegantly stretched like garter made of guts, long and silent in worship

yet, there was no stone God to touch, lay our cheeks upon, in salvage, sweeten terror underfoot

nothing left to run together, keep us from the tear in our fabric, rescuing us afloat, over glacier, over sky, over each other and that blemish of life we call, survival

a call of the wild, a girl returning her party dress unworn, with dormant masks of fierce, loose in their bouquet

she’s tired now, of standing in doorways, blending in

she’s been leaning against herself so long, doves catch wind and pursing straight as falling sky mark the way

as a child may confidently point, before he is taught of error, a certitude of birth we lose, in continued correction

but what of the spirit? Wishing never to bend, as hazel makes a good switch and all sting redeems

what of the spring mad hare? Made jubilant despite his age, as pollen of the glory dusts his dance, does he unlearn?

those reprimanded, unwinding in backward spool, the yarn of time, loosens our punching collar and sore confine

pugilistic, we devolve to fetus and climb inside our charm. Wrung with the arms of tomorrow, the depth of spirit knows no ceasement

Once, twice, again, you cannot keep movement still, it begs for the last dance

choose then, remove your wild jig and join the machinists at their task to embroider the world, not with honesty but the pasty aftermath of souls behind glass, mouthing their marching song

or inherit the wind and best the exiled dream, misplacing sense in unchecked delight

There is no limit to what we are. Such is distance and teeming for years shaken, behind a well set trifle, awaiting the party-goer, cold on her white shelf

But touch once, and she’ll melt, with the longing of her frosting

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A girl of wool & bone

We kern the steepness of the hill side

like mountain goats, our chins tucked tight

against Welsh cold

your mittened hands, clench mine in strength

I hadn’t known you possessed

turned from grandmother to mountain woman

determined in stride

you cut your way deftly, through high grass

bleached by wind and bones scattered

mournful like lost jewels, pressed to earth

when you were young, a great beauty, they claimed

few knew the intelligence, simmering behind

your sensible, corduroy smile

sometimes, it’s not easy being a head-turner

people lean in, too close, with fettered breath

wishing to pluck, your moment

and soon, you had a swollen stomach and those

ideas of being an artist

shot out of the window, like a blue jay

lured by shining glass

once, you told me

I always wanted a girl and ended up

with two redhaired boys

who left stains on my good china and

caused my back to ache

I wanted a girl, to bring up as my very untried wish

a kite, would roam in thin air, when the day was sheltered by mauve clouds

into dells and valleys, in search of blueberries or other

vaunted treats

a girl like me

strong, beneath the fragility

of fitting in and sticking out

a girl of wool and bone

sucking the marrow out of day

shuing in darkness as,

a priest may clear his church, of roosting birds

we tramp, sticks in hand, knees sore

into the cold, into the sucking void

she tells me stories of before

tales carried within her like leather pages

they take on faces and skip

alongside us, as the lone wolf

watches from o-er the crest

ever patient in low stalk

she is old and she is young

her shoulders stooped, her breasts withered

with eyes that glitter in fading light

brighter than any childs

they didn’t get to see her like this

her raw boned sons, eating around the edges

watching her in the role of mother

losing distinction, by cursory dismissal

and I wonder

as we stop to prise mushrooms

gathering thickly at base of dying trees

as she wipes away an errant whisp of hair

and turns back, pink cheeked and thrilled

if anyone had seen her heart

here on the mountain

exposed to elements

as fresh as the air, we pull deeply through our lungs

and holding hands, descending sharply

back to the world of man

Uninterrupted innocence

Kids Jumping into Lake ChippewaPigeon-chested children with streaming noses

dive weightless into still water

breaking circles into smaller circles, rebounding against

sunlight

their laughter feels like a cold hand around my neck

as I imagine their futures

the girl with the black hair, she’ll be raped by her uncle

her mother will tell her, she is a dirty little liar

she will start taking pills at ten and graduate to heroin

when the school counselor asks her, where it all went wrong

she will think of the sunlight through trees

elm, willow, plain oak and cypress

the sound of her unmolested body, falling into water

as if baptized in reverse

the turn of her mother’s neck, in denial

her thick coral lips, mouthing betrayal

my brother would not do that

her own diminishing and the feeling

of wet, cold, bathing suit

sticking

cloying

admonishing

and she will not know, how to verbalize

that separation of self or why

it seemed permissible to sell her body for drugs

let men cut her up, into shards of her former wholeness

like fast food tastes bad

once it has been opened

she does not know, how it stopped mattering

if she protected, those broken walls within her

they were already torn down

that’s what she’d say, if she hadn’t

consumed her tongue and turned it hard

like a cliffs edge seems strong but crumbles

and the counselor, sighs and shakes her head

going home, only to wonder what more

she could do, to reach lost children

and the black-haired girl, gets her fix and slips

once more beneath glassy-eyed waves

this time, she can see herself

her blanched face, her loose fingers empty

letting go of all pain and slipping

like worry beads

deeper and deeper

and if I could, I would

walk backward in time

pluck her drenched and empty

fill her with sunlight and sound

reverberating like a crack in the world

opens and reveals a new passageway

she would come with me into the forest

her younger self remaining

jumping from the jetty with her friends

caught in elasticized moments

too free to escape the laughter

of uninterrupted innocence

Facing the fear

hijacked amygdala

I don’t want to lie to you but I sure wish I could start lying to myself. Tell a different story of me, one that sits less altered in her chair, skewed by the forks laid to eat in tarmac

Truth doesn’t sit well at 2am, when the specter and the sickle crescent with the moon, to chime their heady blend of ‘what if’s’ and disturbance cavorting against imagination

I think of the quiet Christmas eve house, Tom and Jerry fooling about, seems I’ve been living long, if memory can stretch the length of night, without curling back upon itself

you’re there of course, shy and bold and beautiful

and out of the corner of my eye, I see the young me, her nylon night-dress and untrimmed straggly hair

Penguin looks with his sad eyes, Teddy tries not to cry, as knots in the wardrobe come alive, menacing faces, terror…

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Thin skin

Selfish is vanity, thin skin needful of blubber to resist the freeze. For years in the future, what will it matter, if you were plain?

Some of the best people have warts, kankles, pot bellies, their radiance is not in exquisite feature.

So Freckled Girl, wishing you had fuller lips, higher cheekbones, darker skin; remember … when the lights go out, we’ll all have to learn brail.

Touching our way by coral reef, they said, things of love couldn’t live in the dark, without spotlights and balster.

Yet I suspect you couldn’t love me more if I were every kind of gorgeous creature, for the dream we inhabit began before we found shape and color and calcium.

When we swam informed and feeling, in warm soup, passing by the delight of one another, as rubbing softly, life is evoked from so little, as branches create friction and in time, fire.

Forever

The day had begun before I opened my eyes. Dawn was spread thin out of darkness, running in lines of glimmering color like firebranded children, their woolen fingers gingerly clutching sparklers.

Cold floor, warm sheets, where I lay curled unconscious to the emptiness of waking. Waking without you there, to murmur and move naturally, as if in-utero against me, filling me with wholeness.

Often it is said, we should learn to subsist alone. Need less, want less. Others can only risk hurting us in the long run, be it through death, loss, departure, choice.

I chose you despite this. I chose to make that hurdle from the crumbling edge of the river bank to the other side, thinking it impossible. Still I jumped, sailing through the air, seeing my legs missing my mark, reaching further, beyond what was possible. Catching the other side in my fingertips and pulling up, out of failure.

They all said, all those who become ‘they,’ the disapproving, the know-it-alls, the omnipotence, they all said, you shouldn’t take the risk.

It was a bare insult. They all done it, and survived, but the rules were different when it came to me. It was as if I were a child, a child incapable of her own making, bound to their divinity board, with the scalpel sharp against my pieces.

For all who were ‘they’ it was clear, ‘they’ didn’t know me. I was never a child who listened well enough, I was too high up in the tree limbs to hear when they scolded and found my mud stained shoes thrown off.

For the girl with different rules, without rule, there was only the instinct followed by the outcome. I leapt across and I watched myself, clear the jump and claim you. Inspite of it all.

Now you are gone, and I can fit into their net of told-you-so’s at long last. I am the emptied woman. The one who sleeps until the very last moment in a vain attempt to quench consciousness.

You will not return. It is not your way to change your mind. As it was not my way to alter my trajectory, coming like a star out of darkness, pinned on you.

What a fool, they will say. What a mistake, they will cluck. And I will spin my hair into clouds and ruise, above the words, the noise.

I am reminded of the saying, better to have tried than not at all. It doesn’t apply in this world I live. It does apply to me because I only know how to try, not how to win.

I am not a good American girl. I stood in the sidelines, I did not have the competition burning in my throat. I did not want to cheer.

But I am a good American traveler. At night I reach as far as my celestial body will carry me, into the caves of others, searching for you.

Yes I have not given up. I know you will be there eventually and I will witness it. The moment you discover, I didn’t stop looking.

When two lie so close the heartbeat of one becomes the other and beneath them both stirs, a symphony, how can they separate?

Do you think death will have the claim to take you far away and never again let me beside you? This is false. I am stronger than death. I have love.

You may be cold now, you may be afraid, but I am on my way, I will travel no matter the cost, it will take time, but I will find you.

30 percent proof

Modern life makes you hysterical

if you are prone to hysteria that is …

I pealed after being sunburned, despite best SF50 attempt

and the internet proclaimed;

“you’re likely to develop melanoma, from repeat burns”

just like Jimmy Carter

except he’s got money to solve life’s woes and you

have only an inflatable canoe

which was bitten through by an angry boyfriend, with pierced ears and buck teeth

not easy to argue, in the middle of the sea

just off a Greek island, one impoverished Summer

he couldn’t stop googling the topless babes

and I

stung by every bee, insect and mosquito

resembled something of a Kraken

can’t blame the poor man really

but did he have to bite my canoe?

especially so far off shore, we had to

make-up pretty quick and swim for nearest rock

he made it and I did not

I burned some more and took longer swimming the circumfrance of the shore

where islands and caves, dotted in jeweled wonder

an epiphany stirred … I no longer needed a boyfriend who

encouraged me to drink too much Metaxa

watching him, watching the girls go by

why don’t I give it a try?

so looking rather dashing

with my red nose and salt bleached hair

I stole a mermaid from her cave and paddled

with a deflated canoe

to a island they call lesbos

where

we both pealed together

demurely sipping Ouzo