Nightshade

Oh mama

There are days

I am bent double

The stuffing of me kicked quite free

One side is fear that feels like unyielding felt, thick in my dry, slack mouth

Making me the puppet I never was, when good and whole

So is sickness for the soul

A sour well with brackish water and no yield

I long to be your child and retrace in time to your arms

Fantasies that never were, become, our lullaby

A palpable longing for comfort

Nourishment

To be saved against invisible foe

No

I did not invite you, fever dream

No

I did not beckon you visit me and stay, pinning my anxiety as colinder

Cast as we are, sluggish on fortunes wheel

Like chance, we ebb and flow

Moths without hardy wings

I desired wellness 

and while the summer river ran 

I believed it would never turn

Against me in undertow

Disease is a glutted wretch

A terrible betrayal

A war

You stand in rags fighting until your last

We all do 

But when the bees come and honey is glitter in the trees 

We forget our fear of unseen things

Believe ourselves immortal or at least

The sleek otter who can hold his breath

Longer than sense and her confine

For such a time I rested

Against this calm

Taking for granted what I did not own

And as winter will

Reveal herself bare and merciless

Soon those hours of peace lay behind me

Damp with regret and burned yet

To leave plumes of green smoke

Evoking Gods 

Who may be senseless to our call

For the comfort of our childhood

Curled inside a place

As yet unborn

Do not

Let me stay in this cold fear

Or stand alone 

With its frozen clasp about my heart

Squeezing hope til nothing pumps

But the ice of terror 

I am 

Just born

To this strange chill

The waking before dawn of prescient worry

Will I be well? Will I ever be without pain?

Oh mercy and her ink, clouding fortelling

The whine of our need to know, what Fates only jest

My gut is silent and 

Nothing but the fast snare of my pulse

Can be heard over lamment

I am

A statue of fear

Thinking back

To the Happy Prince

He felt pain

Of others

Taking the jewels that were his eyes

Sacrifice I do not have

A lesson

To think and care as we suffer

Of others and their

Equal walk 

In nightshade

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In the heat of the night

they told her

hot-flashes are bad

she couldn’t see how

feeling hot was an infuriation

she was always cold

when the first hot flash came

unbidden and sudden

like a white burning sword

the night she had sinned

by eating a little pizza

she believed at first it was retribution

for her transgression or

the heat of the night

but even the cicadas didn’t agree

the night was balmy and smooth

not on fire

and she

before her time

being too young

osteoporosis and heart disease a danger

for the youthful who inherit menopause early

the bed drenched

her arms feeling like wires of fire

inhabited them

throat sore and dry, wild eyed

she paced the cool floor

shaking and changing

hot to cold

this is too soon

her calcium levels complained

this is too early

her rapid heart beat whispered

not yet, surely not yet

the elasticity in her breasts and neck prayed

we do not

we are not

ready

for rapid ageing

she had noticed

the parchment quality of her hands

dried up like no rain had touched the sand

she had noticed her lack of desire and anxious thrum

thinking it was life

doing its worst as usual

when you experience what you read about

it’s always different in person

now it was her turn

to look back on a life

not yet nearly finished

as if she were further down

the endless conveyer belt already

skip love, marriage, pregnancy, first child

first lost tooth, baby puke

go straight to crone-hood

she told herself

this doesn’t mean your hair will thin

this doens’t mean your genitals will dim

this doesn’t mean your breasts will plunge

this doesn’t mean your waist will swell

this doesn’t mean you’ll never sleep well

this doesn’t mean you’ll catch fire

walking past sulpher

but deep down she knew

yes this is the precipise of all those things

wish I had a robust career to make up for

losing too soon

the other boons of life

wish I had a child in my arms

to comfort me when

I feel it’s over already before I found motherhood

this is the torch of an end

maybe a beginning but

of what?

she didn’t know

anymore than realizing

how a hot flash is not just two words

easily dismissed

but a raging foaming sea of fire

she stood

in the quiet bedroom

burning mute

a novel odd feeling for one

accustomed to saying

please turn down the air conditioning I’m frozen!

she had an sudden desire

to stand beneath a huge fan

to dive into ice

to peal off her skin

and in so doing lose

the disapointment of this too soon

I’m not ready

who is?

who is ready to say goodbye

to hopeful youth and dreams?

and they who are older than her

will say tomorrow when she confides

her bad luck

oh it’s not forever and

there’s a lot to look forward to

yes

she knows that

and still

there is a girl behind her

the shell from whom she has molted

a crysalis girl

dried out and sillouetted

against the fire

she is sad that she is not

still waiting for the moment

she will inherit herself

and must instead find a way to quench

this new

and terrible

desire

for

ice

with

her morning

coffee

Infinity

img_7094Life

don’t you think

should come with a disclaimer

do not read as literal

wash on gentle cycle no spin

use bleach sparingly or often

depending upon situation

leave to dry outdoors

don’t put in the tumbler on hot

iron gently or not

 

I like my coffee black and mornings silent

but for the licorice dogs bark at fleeing squirrel

or jackdaw hammering out his concert

and when the day draws to a close

I like my light diffused and close

leaving darkness to itself

and all the wanderings the mind shall make

haunting this house in repose

to read of worlds you’ll never go

for travel is not as it used to be

stripping shoes and facing x-ray’s indignity

nor indeed our imagined futures it seems

requiring new needles to play favorite song

 

they say as you age your circle reduces

with regret behind those words

I have no regret of this, life is like a purse

pulled together by string to keep it taut

once filled with coins of many colors

gradually emptying its burden

I find the reduction a balm

within less there is more

time to consider and become still

further into the briar and gallop

you’re never lost if you’re seeking

you’re never found if you don’t let

a hand pluck you from the notion

you’re alone

 

she turns her warmth across my own

we hold on tightly as we head toward our door

the last to open

the last to close

she is me I am her

we may not be here tomorrow

but still the silver lines of existence shine

like exclamations in claiming dew

drenching our run further

toward the echo of our beginning

Being twenty

15541394_10202354632784646_1452891421884110148_nThinking back

being twenty wasn’t as shiny

as bronze coin swallowed by carp

when

I went to eat Chinese and made a wish

to be young again

 

at twenty

I thought my breasts already hung forlorn

much like the oak grandfather clock

my father lifted from a former nunnery

when the nuns were gone and buried with the rhododendrons

the building disarticulated stood empty

beseeching intruders

awaiting renovation into flats for rich city dwellers

whose coins were gold

my father said

it seems a shame to let these apple and plum trees

be torn up and shredded they are mature and have

earned a right

so by night we dug up their rosewood roots

hefting in my grandfather’s wheel barrow down cobbled street

planted them in the little weedy garden out back

where they endured without their crowns

 

much as I endured being twenty

thinking myself imperfect

because of the pressure

burning like a hot wire in my

fizzing young head

like tight roller skates leave indents

my father said the trees never

bore fruit after moving

because once you’re planted

you grow roots only once

 

maybe that’s like being young

you are a tumbleweed and whilst some

take to being a spirit composed of air

there is something reassuring

like a warm fire or

a steaming bath

when you know it doesn’t really matter

all the fanciful dreams you had intended to wear

the way you sucked your stomach in

when he touched you underneath your dress

that tugged uncomfortably at tight seams

because you wanted to be

as gamine as

Audrey Hepburn

Defiance

14718735_10202095537187418_8475389863967140182_nAs she ticks upward

the hours tick down

crossed off by permanent pen

no you will not live this moment again

seize it as you would a hot sparkler

waved maniacal by laughing children

through mittened thin protection of wool

and in that conjure

you still the thunder of

what you didn’t achieve

what you didn’t yet reach

in the circumference of your dreams

just before burn

becomes indelible

raise up

let go of all worldly commands

to obey and bow

you are beholden only

to ushered majesty of tomorrow

make it worth your time

here standing in line with

other decaying eyes

blinking against saline

for soon you will rise

a little sorer for your walk

parchment for skin

timidity taking over waltz

then when you think it’s too late

surprise yourself again

swelling with love and energy

like the old dog who hears his returning master

will out run even March hare

for nothing is as lasting

as devotion

turning blushing cheek to quixotic moon

spilling beyond possibility

like frozen water is released

with first thaw

purest of all

Clock-face

a-girl-a-dog-and-a-horse-1921Laughter spills out, an unexpected guest

been many seasons replacing themselves since

she danced to a good song

look! What shakes now that used to be firm

standing painting your public face on

you omitted to check

the clocks wound themselves forward

now you tear the grey from your hair and lament; how long it takes to recover yourself?

standing flat-footed before a mirror where is the succor for survival?

in the weight of your accumulation? Bales waiting tied snug and square

maybe the lake doesn’t ask for praise when it endures the ice

nor the escapees praise, their fortune

we wear the badges of our internal battles on the inside of our skin

nobody congratulated, the warrior who holds us from despair

media will not report those valiant souls making their way through treacle

and every once in a while it surprised you to witness

winter talenting to spring

water getting warmer

new generations crowd shoreline

unknowing in a blink

they too will wonder

how it had been so long?

since they danced

in the arms of someone who saw

the silver thread in their being

as if miracles were fashioned for the living

and stories of a shared song could rub true

instead of lifting your sagging arms toward heaven

halving wan light of a late winter moon

lighting the shift of clock-faces

tucking their knowledge in shadow

Ageing

Older woman holding young maskThe grime that won’t lift from underneath fingernails

is the yellow glimmer of youth

uncaring it is messy and rigorous

when you can live unbrushed

climbing from bed to public without spending

an hour examining your face, patching scars of endurance

when did age, creep so effortlessly into expression lines?

when did light, become so certainly, a foe on certain days?

as if inhabiting mood explained itself in the creases of your skin

you may deflect, somersault and berate

after all so many years wearing your emotions within

bound to spill once the cork is sodden

those hours you thought nobody saw

burning candles between pinched fingers

rubbing sulphur on volcanos urge

how many tears and ache does it take?

to leave emotions wreckage like single moment captured in paint?

who is the photographer who knows how to unearth

our secret selves hiding in wainscoting and plaster

of the past?

I understand why women plump their gaunt hollows

filling their lips with plastic hope, to go a few more years without

showing the world their chapped inside

they seek their former selves, to feel warmth of sun

on unfreckled necks

perhaps it would not sting if love could wear age well

when you are hot faced and tear streaked

wiping in one stroke and smiling

everyone believing the dress you wear is new and unwrinkled

such is the forgiving fabric of youth

succor for the gentle hearted, sugar for the brave

now in unforgiving light you see the evidence of age

lying on your face like a lover will unwittingly expose themselves

in a flicker, in a mere blink, beauty reduced to ungainly

for what we cannot see is more intriguing than

all the dilapidated truth behind our eyes

as much as we may wish to express ourselves

not that candidly, not as if pinned by wings to cork board

spread for all to see every instant of our writhe

biographies of the years, footprints of etched grief

can’t hide the truth as you age, can’t help but reveal

if I leave now without putting on my face

combing my hair over the deepening lines

hiding behind color, clothes, artful turn of head

if I don’t literally prepare myself

like a carefully followed recipe

or posed selfie empty of truth

I will feel as if I am walking naked in public

no skin on my feelings to disguise the years

I have been trying to get well

 

tell me?

is that why contentment is much like a cake

rising beneath warm air

and disappointment a river

shallow and fast

is that why they say joy can be seen in a person’s smile?

and sadness will devour, even the best actor

looking at my fracture, I resemble every melancholy spent

like old wine will eventually revert back to sugar and sediment

settling cloudy at the bottom of a carafe

buoyed no more by light