Beneath its rebuke we claim our sex

I am disappointed when
My thighs resemble dough

From lassitude or the dreaming void

I know not

While others jog I find ways to hide, and years bring encroachment
I am disappointed when stretchmarks form and breasts once firm and fine, fall
As if the hour, prescriptive written, perforation, was

all along a trembling, inken fate

Only in your arms
away from dull gaze of waxen youth

yet to taste harsh glare of life
Still blunt in their unlidded perfection

Was I ever so?

Only in you, I find solace to unburden these stored shames
Bidden me by my role as woman
The unkind hand, who beckons us close to fire
That we may touch a moment of glory

Then slow descent to nowhere visible

In my head of aches, I hear the cacophony of iteration

Women over a certain age
Sexless, sagging beasts of burden

We laugh over my fears
Our respective flaws, rubbing each other
Tenderizing that, which believed itself perished
And was alive
Beneath its rebuke

And when you bring me out of my shell
To kneel to the sun god, without need for apology
I see not those things

Or the artificial glide of time

But feel
Feel your fingers

Deep in my belly

Sense your mouth
Folding bliss in her eternal recline
Taste the syrup of us, in the temple
Then
I am disappointed no more
A fire bird loose in my body
Such pleasures, no child can find
We lift together, in our mutual ecstasy
Emboldened by the dream to be free of chains

Two of us
Released from the grip of words
Threshing at the gate, with the symphony of a female’s sex
Greater than anything that can be crushed
Our fever, mighty in her conquer
We cry as one, our voice raw with awakening
For to be pleasure, is to know
The Gods

No you do not own this moment
Bashful world

For we have transcended the hand of man
We
Who are
Woman
Claim
Our

Sex

trethevy quoit

Stand here

moss washing over rock

hands in time

I think of all who have passed through

their atoms blessing sky

if you were here with me

your Irish bones and Welsh soul

how many years will I wish

you were with me

this girl of shifting blood

drawn to the pasture lands of Cornwall

more than any purposing Chaîne des Puys can evoke

the Sioule wrapping herself between empty valleys

or the sorrow of les Pyrénées, a gentle horror

languishing in Cathar country

their ghosts stumbling between worlds

I never belonged in those spaces

memory an acerbic ¿Cómo se dice

*as flies to wanton boys are we to the gods

just as I do not now, own a home

in the barren tumbleweed of Texas

unattached, they call it ‘winged pigweed’

even as we sneeze it away to carry on

lonely pilgrimage amongst spoiled tarmac

perhaps it wasn’t even trethevy quoit

but you, and your pure love

filling me with a peace

I have not possessed since

(*line taken from King Lear, Shakespeare).

Never tamed

Oh love

death is a transition

just as life is a bird

who interupted, will startle

leaving a smudge of indigo

against stark whitewashed sky

the shush-shush of neighors raking leaves

whose auburn crepe bows in protest

for they wish to lay still with the grass

turn seasons over in their golden hours

this artificial need

to tidy, put away, is but one method

of seizing a control far from reach

I fold in your arms, light gloaming through shutters

out of the corner of my eye I see marks on my skin

the furlough of time and suffering, chaffs against endurance

your eyes look oriental as you age

their downturn makes you smile even in pain

lends you a kindness strangers respond to

quiet is infused with our collected breathing

in this moment we live

sheltering from portent

I see the neighbor’s son helping his mother

he’s grown thin and reaching like the trees

not yet aware of diminishment

or why his mother holds back tears

when the sun paints day dark and shadows roam

casting their memories, as we did once with a torch and our hands

your shape lasts in my mind, a totem

I’ve carried an ache so deep in me for so long

it seems to exist independently

a Golem of my own creation

perhaps he will bend and lift me up, when next I fall

weighted by emptiness and disappointment

maybe he will spin me around in browning leaves

escapees of the neighbors rake

flung in unfettered defiance

a string of thoughts

stirred

never

ever

tamed

Walk over

Walk over

on those long satin legs

with ankles crossing

like idle thoughts saturated

in honey

Skin on skin

when it matters most

don’t push away

move nearer

touch until it hurts to touch

remedy that disappointment we carry

in little cherry pink pill boxes

find in me, the answer to the puzzle

if we’re alone let’s make the most

of being able to move close

the rest of the world is spinning

obsessing about varied concerns and things

that don’t matter just as much as

those that do

take this second

to put aside your walk

and dance in my arms

inhaling the intensity

that is us

Distorted from downpour

Without you there, rubbing against my emptiness

I am a scream

begun without end

I may close my mouth

I may purse my lips and paint them

I may say yes please and thank you very much

and still dial your number

that no longer exists

just to hear it ring

in my mind

once

twice

three times

it may be you

on the other end

picking up, I can hear the lint

of the connection stretching like walkers on wire

a crackle, a fizz, the ghosting hiss of you

what are you saying?

Rolling down bled city streets with lights

hanging like old bottles, catching stray saline

I strain to hear

through ceaseless whiteout of rain

it is yellow against brown glass

distorted from downpour

slapping wetly in time to lost rhythm

pirate radio in storm, trying to reach land

crackle, fizz, pop, static … spreading her fingers

we danced on these steps

in our best clothes

with bare feet growing dirty

and it was then

as you spun hotly beneath your wool coat and laughed

your iris neck bent in grace

as elegant a thing I ever saw

dissolving through time into ushered coffin

we are still

on the phone trading jokes

switching out rolling papers with blackened tongues

I hear you sigh

as reedy and deep as mislaid wine

tap your cheap hoop earring against the line

hello? Hello? What’s that you say?

Now that you are out of the box

I think I shall remain within

for it is easier to sleep by these four corners

of memory

than try in unremitting rain

to go on without you

The unseen world

At the corner of your mouth, where it curls in gentle distain, a little spiting mirth, lives the unseen world

In your eyes, polished obsidian run through with black onyx, lies the hearth of your internal combustion

As you breathe, I cannot fail to notice the lovely juxtaposition of your bones gleaming beneath apricot skin, as the buttons on your shirt atest, each breath yawning her fitful glimpse

I cannot help but wonder those stored bottles of delight, high upon your shelf, how your nipples would taste, the flowered breath of your heart of palm

And divining central, that pulsing mandala, reaching her fragrance into dreamworld, the color of aubergine and hibiscus bled in winter river as redwood is lost to time

My artichoke girl, wreathed in wild flowers, your body a temple for this supplicant, as light diminishes, your thirsty form grows spectral, a mango tree heavy in fruiting

From within, you glow with the hardy tempest of your nature, a pulsing, feckless creature, nimble in your art of deft possession

If I could starve for want of you, I believe I would. For no moment passes with satisfaction, unless in some way, you exist on its marble periphery

The very yoke of a day is cast by your presence. I could subsist on the rounding detour of your thighs for a hundred sleepless nights

Grow from your slumber the memories of your cries, curled in my ear, my lips, my reincarnation of our slippery motion to capture

When it is cold my hands seek your bright match to kindle animation, climbing from the solace of you, strengthened by remembered, evoked echo of intimacy

A song wound around my ribs as river reeds pull the charmed to their divine drowning and with last sip of air we relinquish control and let go

My love, your eyes bewitch my life blood, kindling the charred rejoinder of hope, a poppet to your sorcerery, emerging from deep forest

When dying comes for me, it’ll be your face I kiss, feverish and familiar, your preternatural smile haunting my passage, faithful ghost, mine

For some there is no method of separation, we are bound in crushed roses to one

In this place. In each other. A languid, yawning soft space between, the unseen world.

The sum of us

Good Girls don’t write about sex

Overtly

They disguise their want in paralipsis

And allegory

Hoping the one they wrote it for

Reads in between watery lines

Just as we think we know and we don’t know

How to play a violin to life

What specific string to rub dulce, with bow and how?

To produce the exact sound

Of heaven

For we rely on machines purchased

In stores that wrap them in paper and

Blush behind their make-up

To soften the blow of loneliness

They even offer them in pink with ears.

I decided long ago to

Forgo batteries and think of you instead

With my flesh and my bones

Nothing more but those images in my head

Of you lying back unclothed

Ready for feasting

I’m long past apologizing

For my need at midday to think

About sex

Women do it too

Maybe not in the office bathroom with a magazine

Or tiny screen zooming in

But quieter, and softer, lying in the bath

Lights out, candles giving off waxy

Myth

The world is changed outside and we

No longer obey fluorescent lights

I dim ours and the moon in turn

Shies from long curtains

In dusk I see the curves of you

Reminding me, as if I needed reminder

Of why I think of you all the long day

And how and in what ways

For I don’t believe there will be a time

I’ll stop boiling my blood in imagining

And the moment we come together

Is ever more for waiting

It seems at times I wait, more than I actually find

Perhaps the rejoinder of fantasy is

We can inhabit it more, than what lies real

Yet as you undress, I know

Nothing I can conjure up, can compete

With the real feel of your skin against mine

The human touch of our hands enjoined

I may be called creative, but I could never

Describe those pleasured hours well

We are it seems, beyond all living illustration

For beauty when it is actual

Is not the plastic doll on the shelf

Nor her vibrating friend, who promises

To get you off so easily.

Some things are worth waiting for

Some people are necessary, chasing eternal

For even one night with you, would suffice

Against a hundred with someone else

I cannot replace what you do to my heart

Every time I see you turn a corner

And smile that crooked smile of yours

Eyes glinting, a little cocked half walk, half run

We meet in our dreams

We stay together when apart

It is the sum of us

We add up

Even as everything else

Does not

Don’t go home tonight

Don’t go home tonight

don’t leave this warm circle we built with our skin and bones

I killed an ant earlier and I felt badly

as I had watched it climb up a book and grab on to a little morsel

it has always made me feel remorseful for killing even the smallest creature

I don’t eat flesh for that reason

aside, you, I eat you, feast upon, alive and laughing your deep throated mirth

it never occurred to me one day I would have in my arms

the vibrating surround of a whole woman

the majesty of her glory, how she shifts like light

from somber to ejubilent in the fracture of a moment

women are not easy creatures, to tame a little, or keep satisfied

their minds, their bodies, are compartments of mystery

open the same drawer twice, out comes a different response

I will never understand or fathom, your maze of contradictions

that may be half the pleasure, for we who are simple clay

love the complexity and madness that is your fire

your dimpled skin and reddened throat leaning backward to my entreaty

the sounds you make, when I bring you close

a high keening like joy is just out of focus, a mayfly touching surface

I hold those memories inside me like water

crossing the empty desert of a day without you

night comes and goes as fast as pleasure

resisting my petition to remain static and eternal

if it would just slow and stay, I’d render you speechless in slow movement

the stirring of cream into coffee, languorous and ancient in ritual

until you flung yourself back into enervated ocean

where together we met beneath water and the whole world

was lit from beneath us

my love, asseyez-vous à côté de moi. faire battre mon cœur

stay

stay with me tonight

let us both be lulled into believing

morning does not need to dawn

And tell her to stay

cotton-in-braille

My mother sits on the side of the bed, it is 1980 or 1999 or never or sometime in the seventies or perhaps she’s not really there …

Her indent remains after the door closes, after the light is extinguished in the green hall way, where usually people go to sleep and she goes away, away, away …

Even then I could not see well, I squint into the half light, I look at the painted gypsy caravan wardrobe my parents picked up in a flea market before I was born, the cheap thin wood which now, years later, would be considered ‘antique’ – oh the absurdity of those things.

I think of them, crouching on elastic knees, abundant youth, painting, red and blue and yellow. I think of the song I learned in nursery about a rainbow, I think about gays appropriating rainbows later on and how ‘gay’ is not how most of us felt. How appropriation is always ironic.

When I began to stop wetting the bed, my father bought a calendar and stuck it on my wall, he would let me stick stars on the days I did not wet the bed, when I got enough stars he said, something great would happen. It had to be better than the machine I’d had the year before that ‘buzzed’ when I wet the bed and woke me up. I didn’t see how sesame seeds and electric buzzers would stop any child peeing in their nightmares.

A week later I opened my curtains, there was a stuffed toy rabbit on the windowsill, it was slightly damp from being there all night, and it smelt like fur and home. I still have it. It still has me. I never named it. How do you give a name to the earning of pain?

We lived in a basement, it was moldy in the Winter and cool in the Summer. I couldn’t see the sky, I grew to like the idea of living underground, of burrowing deep into the earth beneath city concrete, where the bodies murmured against river mud. I believed in Ghosts. Ghosts most certainly believed in me, they were my companions.

They shimmered past in half-light, caught in doorways and shining windows and dour corners. They contorted into devils by the astigmatism of my eye, becoming faces with fangs, fingers reaching upward. I wondered even then, why I feared the unseen more than the seen. Why what was not real felt more real than real? How ghosts could become my torment, when the world outside felt equally remorseless? Why not put them away and tackle that which existed? Perhaps that is exactly why. For a child who did not know how to make things right.

My wardrobe was little for a child, I was little for a child, my bones were plastic and breakable, they snapped when I folded myself tightly into corners, and the four cheap velour rabbits bought one Easter sat alert and watchful on the windowsill with a half moon shining in and lighting the face of the wardrobe into a grimacing creature.

The rabbits and I heard things. We saw things. Through bad eyes and deaf ears. The sound of my mother leaving, her presence skirting the room like a flamingo dancer, her lithe form, her long graceful arms with impossibly thin wrists, the smell of her on my skin because I was born of her, and then born not at all.

A clock did not exist on the wall, it did not tick down time, it did not remind us of what we had lost, it was not there, it left only the outline of its being like a circle set by sunlight on fading paint. A sundial without hands, without notion of time. Existing as planets exist, not realizing they circle the other.

My clothes grew tight as I elongated and sloughed the years, I kept an empty bottle of my mother’s eye make up remover by my bed, it smelt of her, as her hairbrush did, I wondered how she could live without her hairbrush. I did not wonder how she could live without me.

The tenants of the tall building were unhappy and they smiled a lot to cover it up. They said things like; We will be glad to look after your little girl. When my father cycled away, relieved, lighter, seeking a woman, seeking freedom, I stood on the doorstep and watched and the ache in my chest felt like a piece of lead piercing unnamed parts and I thought of my mother, how when she was my age she watched her parents sail back to Africa whilst she stayed still and I realized … how she and I were interchangeable and only the years were different.

Once, my mother said her mother put perfume on a handkerchief and left it for her and she kept it under her pillow. I kept my mother’s hairbrush under mine, it smelt of the oil of her curly hair, and the damp of my tears and the dust of time, sweeping her skirts along the empty floor.

I am alone now. As I was then. It feels the same. It feels worse because there is no illusion. Nothing like the future to hide behind and solace yourself with. No ‘things will be better when you grow up’ after you have grown up and realized they are not.

Again we are back in my bedroom. She is standing up. She is sitting down. The moment of her departure is fuzzy like my eye sight and I tell her, in years to come I will lose my eye sight and you will gain yours and my father will still be cycling away not knowing they piled on top of me and beat me to pieces, or that three little boys could throw marbles so viciously until a little girls heart burst and she ran away.

She turns to me and says something but it was twenty years ago. It was never. It was yesterday and I cannot see what she says or how she says it, to know if it was meant or just words spilled onto temporary carpet. I cannot know because she did not know, and our act was just a part of a grander outcome, both of us have forgotten and remembered many times since.

I love her in a way that slices through the fat and gets to the bone. I love her in a way I cannot articulate meaningfully but she knows and that’s the worst part, she knows. Maybe ever since I have found my father’s bicycle and learned to follow his trail, looking for her, looking for myself, seeking the way out of the high rise and the pinching boys and the ugliness that turns away when they see what is happening because maybe they are glad.

It is a day later, a year later, a decade past. We sit on roof tops in the weak sun and eat boiled sweets. Ants pick at our toes, dandelion’s die and float in their seed form to be wished upon and we leave them alone, already knowing, wishes are foibles.

You say it won’t hurt but it does and I knew it before it happened but I let it happen because of the ache inside that needed anything, even if it was pain.

The roof top is strewn with the debris of childhood, and my mother’s brush no longer smells of her, it goes through my hair like it was only my straight, boring hair it had to brush its entire life, as if she never existed and we did not sit on the bed together, the curtains closed nearly completely, only a hint of darkness spilling through.

If I had remembered I would have told her then, do not leave me when the time comes in twenty years, do not say goodbye a second, a forth, a nineteenth time. No matter what you think I have done, how disappointed you are in me, what disgust you hold in your heart. Instead remember this, the moment we sat quietly and I put my hand in yours and said it was okay and you cried and I cried from then until forever, without using my eyes or my ears or my mouth.

My father is cycling away from me, he is squinting ahead as if he sees something worth seeing, and I am turning, watching my mother close the door, asking that it be left open just a crack, to let the light in, hearing her steps in the corridor, not quite believing she will never come back. Because children always believe in magic. And Ghosts. And Monsters. And boys with marbles in their cheeks and demons in their eyes.

When I woke next to you and you asked me if I had a bad dream, I watched you as you sank back down into sleep and your hair fell across the pillow, the tangle and darkness of it against white linen. You could have been her, I could have been him, we could have never had a child, I ask you not to, please, do not, I don’t need to be born.

That’s why I was late, and why you struggled for 40 something hours in labor, they should have cut you, small as you were, small like me, but they didn’t, maybe it was cruelty, we have seen a lot of that in our life haven’t we and it wouldn’t surprise either one of us, or maybe it was the belief that women were strong enough no matter what, and we know that to be true also, even as we think it’s a damn shame sometimes.

You were strong enough and I was strong enough – to survive or endure but never really thrive – maybe you did – perhaps you were the only one who could – I had my eyes set on a future that never came, and a bicycle turning the corner, and my grandmother waving me from the street as I climbed the stairs to my class, and just as she turned to go, I ran back and I came outside and called her name and she said; Why aren’t you going to your classroom? And I wanted to say; Why would I go into a classroom? I’m not going to learn anything there? I have learned more here sitting on this bed, watching my mother leave, hearing her say things she did not say, wishing I were as powerful as the God of the wardrobe and not being able to eat my marzipan frog she brought me last. Because she gave it to me and I could not consume it and for it to be gone.

And you would have understood because you had your emotions close to your skin as I have, which makes you easily despised and sometimes admired. Because you were a coward as I have been, letting her be crushed by your absence and thinking it nothing at all, when you set sail again and again leaving her with a handkerchiefand a loneliness the size of Africa. I could not fill that loneliness although good God I tried many, many times, but when you break someone, you can put them back together, it does not mean they can hold anything you then pour into them.

She was the most beautiful woman I ever saw, and that from a child who didn’t yet know how to lie. I compare my lovers to her now. Wonder if they could beat her at chess and laugh because I know they could not. Think on how she managed to stay strong even in the harshest currents, when I cannot always stand without leaning. I look nothing like her, there is only sometimes in the cast of light, a glint of her in my eyes, looking back and when I see it, I ask her, why didn’t you spit me out before I was whole, so that you never had to be disappointed and I never had to lose you, then and now and never.

My grandmother taught me to swim in a basement, I dreamed the river would break its banks and my little home would be drowned. I dreamed my father was on the bottom bunk and I on the top and every time the water receded he was lifeless and I could do nothing, except scream impotently underwater for him to live. My grandmother died before I was old enough to let her know the truth, that I was not her grandchild but a water sprite dredged up from the river mud and set to swimming in dreams not of my own. That I had no parents but the marzipan figurines of night terrors and mares and I peed in my bed until I was too old to tell and old enough to lie.

Learning to swim was the only thing I learned fast and well, everything else came slow and difficult, just like trying to love someone who doesn’t love you, or expressing things too painful for words. I could sit with my parents and paint my wardrobe but I could never, ever, close the chink of light coming in from the slightly opened curtains, spilling on the floor where she walked across, soundlessly, growing dim and incomplete like the china dolls set back on a distant shelf somewhere.

Now I wear heavy glasses and even that is not enough, I cannot drive at night, I see things that are not there, and do not see what is. I think that is quite ironic really all things considered. My stomach hurts to think of how easily the brush goes through my hair, and how girls with curly hair never needed hairbrushes, so how hers became mine, seems like it always was, and the bottles she left behind were empty when she was here, when she was gone, when she never was.

If one day I am asked, I will say, I tried my best, I learned to swim well and I could pick up one of those weighted bricks from the bottom of the azure swimming pool but nobody came to see me swim so I did not compete well and soon I gave it up altogether. I will say I remember my grandmother running after a man who had broken in to watch us swim and bellowing at the top of her voice she scared him off, all 5’1 of her. I think my mother would laugh at that story, she has a wonderful laugh, it lights up her face and makes everyone else in the room join in.

We will not invite the shadows, we will not ask the ghouls or the disappointments to attend. We will stay the two of us, and wait it out. The past, the present and the future. We will talk on other things and not linger on those that prick and make us bleed. We will circumvent the pain like a sleeping lion and I will make her smile at my stories, the way I did once, once some time, some where. I have forgotten exactly when. The two of us, so alike and so different, sisters, strangers, with love the size of a river, with regret as deep as a drowning. Things never said on the tip of my tongue, burning with love, as we are quiet on the edge of the bed, with my mother about to leave and yet, still there, and me, always leaning, leaning towards her. Wanting to reach out. And tell her to stay.

To all but I

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To all but I

this thickly guarded auburn sky

muted by restless wing

shocking in tight formation

this wonder of unseen & witnessed

edging crimson filigree against invading night

I am wrought in your divining spell

one word & we molt

episodes of grief shedding their fur coats

at our warm door way

how you haunt the periphery

of day, glossed over by time’s measured fold

it does nothing but stick firm &

intractable, a welt of bleating remembrance

turning up at the edges

you reduce me to ash

& I go to bed alone

touching the gloaming dark

with my hot fingertips like braille

reader might

possess the inveigling of

pure understanding.

I need your touch like

wood resists flame & then hungry

she tears herself nude of life

& burns for the glory &

actuating sate.  I want

your red mouth fevered, tongues

pushing inward, little fearing

& pain between my legs at

the exquisite wait you

torment me with as mercy

strokes me laughing, relishing in your

cruel game.

Such redress of norms

lose their ravishing clothes

dropping like forgotten prayer

& mislaid intentions

pretty jewels in ravens beak

my passioned abandon is found

against the long relief of your arms

supporting

us both in strength &

urge — Oh! What

infinite color you make beneath

me, one cheek turned rosy, the

other lost in cry & what dissolving

hour passes over us, conjoined

by similarity & difference

your dark eyes watching my

gilded reaching til cresting on

thundering waves we reunite

sore from our shout &

the varied cascade of joy

shining bright as youth’s

best cherry

heavy on Summer’s

day. It is this vapor of

your presence, indented in

my heart, sweet with redolence

& her sisters of undressed moments

crashing to shore, urging me

closer, losing myself readied to your

invite & the warm supper

we feast upon, as others will

find remedy in owning the world

& all her riches, we have discovered

in each other the best place

to live & die.

To all but I

this sonorous song resting on

rushing humid air shall chase your

fleeing gathered form till reunited

again, alchemy beneath

beating heart-blood

of two

told souls

with nothing

but all

to lose in

the other.