Behind your eyes

DSJPQ56W0AEq2Dl.jpg largeWhen I stopped dancing full-time and entered delayed puberty

my breasts swelled like a lily in a pond

at first it was kinda cool getting attention from boys

then I hated how they jutted out and called ahead

like car headlights

slowly tracking, flashing, blinding

in those days of Flashdance and Fame

the three L’s; leggings, leg warmers, leotards

loving in the afternoon, running to studio

dancing with the smell of sex on my stomach

other girls ate salad and cardboard

threw up in the bathrooms

bound their breasts with cloth

I admired their long necks and sinewy thighs

the tightness of their waists and flat chests

my own puberty felt like something out of control

foreign and unwanted to me

I wanted the lean girl of childhood back

the one who climbed trees with one hand

hung upside down

eating apples

there was too much

attached to owning breasts and thighs

even his circle of me dimmed

looking at some of my friends

the ones with slimmer hips and shoulders

still in their girl-doll-bodies

I with my woman seeping out

became a thing of disgust, or so I thought

when I carried his child, my breasts grew even more

wetting the front of my nightshirt with wasteful milk

his eyes took in the sum of me and disgusted

he looked away

always preferring me hairless and skinny

like a girl not a woman

no make-up, wearing little thin things

someone he could control

so I had a sickness in myself

of warped images, desire and lost babies

starving myself beyond the pale

it wasn’t hard, I had little to lose

soon I ran for buses on the breath of feathers

circling my waist he’d say

you remind me of Audrey Hepburn

being tiny, I decided it had been a dream

no child, no loss, no lack of desire

he sexed me every night until sate

leaving bruises on my legs and arms like

vampire bites

but always turning his head away

like he was thinking of someone else

when he left me for that girl

who was dark-skinned and voluptuous and healthy

I realized being a little girl didn’t keep me safe at all

after that I never gave myself away

to people with eyes that looked straight through me

or hands that grabbed to own

a piece of me or what I possessed

though I had no idea what

that was

lying by myself in a small room

smoking hashish in the dark listening to

Tunnel of Love on repeat

I tried to turn my heart to glass

only my body wanted to be awoken from her slumber

a virginal boy, with no grace and long hair

filled my nights and my bed for a time

I taught him how

to roll the perfect joint

and study, where time ended and pleasure began

once he asked

why do you bind your breasts every morning?

they are beautiful

I turned from him

my skin burning with secrets

and did not ever reply

for who can disclose the litany of pain?

as it lies

like a sleeping child

behind your eyes?

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In the witness of wonder

lindsay-kemp-moving

Lindsay Kemp died

And with him

A torn piece of time

From the quilt of

Those rare beings who are irreplaceable

I wonder at, the length of a life

Seeing some eek out forever

Living fossils unable to pass

Whilst others seem more

Moth to flame

Their brightest extraordinary

The arc to eventual dim

Inevitable

We all perish

But some burn so bright when alive

Even in death they ecclipse

Ordinary forms

It is those extraordinary beings

We cleave to and covet

For in our own search for meaning

They fulfill the dark spaces of our need

Like arrows pointing to starlight

We dance when they come into our orbit

With the flow of children

In the witness of wonder

Lyndsey Kemp died

Images in my mind whirl

Of a young Kate Bush dancing

My own outstretched hands in ballet theater

As he strode poised and strong backed across stage

Like he owned and bequeathed

All the oxygen in the house

And indeed he did

Indeed he did

(For Tim)

Needle

Learned early

How to let go

Always saying goodbye

Short twitches of time

I learned

Through closing french windows

Palid light playing in empty spaces

Where dust looks like a jewel and distance

Can be swept up with the debris clamoring to get there

Doing nothing honors nothing

So we packed our memories in minced words

The river poorly stretching like colourless yawn

You inhabited the past before a future existed

Leaving, the ambelical chord severed in a neat recoil

And I learned, as in your turn you learned and in your mother’s turn she knew

Not to expect the people who should love you, to stay

I am a string of colored glass about memories neck

And as the rocket becomes totem in rain swollen skies

I wish myself an astronaut

To propel from tierra and leave behind legacies

Of loss

On a hot night, my hand sweats the melting ice tonguing glass

And in our imagination
we are needed

Vouched for by a tight stitched safety net spread over jagged edges

I was told I said thank you and sorry too much

So I quit saying both

Though it was only a habit bourne from

Being from people who never apologized.

Letting go is the most familiar feeling I possess

I turn to it like a lined book and scribble my fears in its grimy recesses

And the hairbrush and night light you left behind

Burns out and stays as cold as walking around the house without socks

Clings and repels

Calling in sick

Staying absent there is more oxygen

Catch me if you can says the long distance runner

We who stop and start our watches, so many times

Much used joints ache prematurely

And the thrum of rain is a constant

Thread through memory books

Poised as young dancers

Will crane to catch

Every elongation of unfolding sound

It was what bonded us

Immediate, like transferred ink

Can’t be licked off

The intimate knowing of good-byes and loss

Its reverberation in unused spare rooms

Pacing emptiness and her poor assuage

Until it was our turn

To raise the knife and bring our uncertainty

Puncture through fine quill of transparency

Hurt has that synonym

A song playing on repeat

Forever tasked to jumping her needle