Only child

pexels-photo-573266

I’m sitting in a linoleum room with ghosts, specters and occasional stranger

a girl with long legs like a foal, is pulling elastic pink lines of gum from her full mouth

and snapping them back, loudly

I wonder if I have ever sat so evenly in a chair, if I ever had peach hair, light on my skin like that

it reminds me of my friend who competed in gymkhanas, we made up our own horses, hers was called Mars and mine, BeTwix and we ran

so fast our hearts thundered up her grandmother’s hill in the La Roque-Gageac

her legs were like those of a foal,  even at eleven, the waiters watched her with wet lips

I think of The Object Of Beauty, how Liv Tyler gleamed, coming out of the oval swimming pool

What men must think when underage girls begin to fruit.

My ghosts routinely tell me, I am without worth, they remind me if I had anything worth having

my mother wouldn’t be absent

a life time of inadequacy, wouldn’t be my legacy

I disappoint myself, not just the ghosts, sometimes I think

I don’t belong in this American world, where women are proud to work sixty hour weeks and go the gym at 9pm

still feeling they haven’t worked hard enough.

I think I am forever running in the Nouvelle-Aquitaine, with my imaginary horse

watching a girl turn into a woman, aware of too much even then, and not enough

the specters mock my lack of confidence, whispering in my detached earlobe

nobody likes a wuss, confidence is the American calling card, haven’t you noticed?

Even silly people and indifferent people get somewhere, if they believe in their

silly people and indifferent selves. And brilliant people, who doubt, will fester

like a ring someone lost in a river, glitters too deeply for marbled birds to

pluck it out and restore to light.

I lost a ring once, you’d given it to me when we were 14 and I didn’t have coltish legs

or peach fuss on my skin, but rather, the strong bones of a kid who drank milk with her cereal and got a stomach ache

reading Asterix at the pine breakfast table, with her stuffed toys.

I can still hear the plastic clock and hum of the washing machine

a warm symphony of my childhood, as I delayed leaving for school

and the inevitable crush of humanity, I had long decided was not for me

in fact, my trajectory was so far from that world of push and pull

competition and attention, fan fare and nose-pick small talk

I inhabited the after school hours like an addict of one

rejoicing in the quiet and empty spaces where

my mind could roam and gallop

sometimes I would sit on the roof tops of outdoor storage buidings

eating my soggy paper bag of sweets, stuck together from being

crunched in my pocket, head stuck in a book about

beautiful places with kind people and fantastic things

wild roses growing like thoughts from arching cracks

in concrete, their soft heads and sharp thorns

not the decapitated baby bird, I buried beneath the acorn tree

its silvered blind eyes, swollen and bulging

wings pressed like cries of regret for having never spread

in flight

something horrifying in everywhere you looked

like the terror you feel when you realize you are truly alone.

That kitchen clock would change day and month

but never really the precision of its emptiness

I learned it is better, to rely upon fantasy and avoidance

than the pinch and grope of society.

Often, a stranger would ask

why are you playing outside so late?

I would run away into the eclipsing shadows

behind the corrugated iron fences that separated

the good neighborhood from the skeletons

those bombed, bleached, bones of former homes

where a kid of twenty years ago had lain

watching paper airplanes cycle

above their head, clutching something with glass eyes

and faux fur, as I still did

funny, to find some comfort in the inanimate manufacture

of nature

my toys looked at me in the darkness and spoke

words of love, I needed to consume

their salty fur held

the cups of my early disenchantment

when teachers commented on my red eyes

I said; hay-fever and they believed me

because I wore a dragon tail

this was surely an adjusted child

with avid imagination

cantering alongside her friend

with the honey colored hair and long bare arms

absorbing sun like a shining fruit

I knew then how different I was

how quiet pain, how loud silence

my mother always looked so beautiful in

floral dresses with her trim ankles and long neck

I, the stranger behind her

admiring and shameful in her artlessness.

it was among the lost in forest, I claimed my place

when first love failed, when promises became

paper envelopes containing no letter

dishing out school diner and homework

leaving my scuffed shoes at the door

I climb

into the ivy

away from the party

a reflection I see of myself

gathering stillness like a blanket

she is fetching her best smile

for the emptiness of years

staring into emulous clouds, watching

for signs and miracles and unspent words

the sound of others laughter

rinsing through tall green shadows

like echoes of

someone else’s life

 

 

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How many women does it take?

It was raining the day the movers truck pulled up

piling furniture into the back, exposed to wet streets

everything dirty and unfamiliar

when you take your safety out of its box

when you unlatch your secrets

and expose the insides of a locket

sticky mouths seek to further that exposure

until nothing of your peace remains

but the belly of your secrets on display

as if you were sitting in class without underwear

as if the abuse etched in your soul were a t-shirt

as if his fingers weren’t in the dark but had been

dipped in luminescent paint and everywhere they went

left their grimy imprint / yet you think

this horror may have been the very best thing

as wretched as exposure may taste

at least it wouldn’t be a case of disbelief

how many women does it take?

for one person to not hesitate

how many must say;

he did this / that happened / we are not okay

because of this / why do I have to prove / with gore

and soiled soul / the truth / why isn’t it sufficient that I say

why why why

did he lay a hand on me?

how many women does it take?

a juror in the Bill Cosby case disclosed the reason for his guilty verdict;

I believed he was guilty because he said he had drugged girls

hearing it from the horses mouth got my vote

are we bidding on a horse? Did you check the inside of his mouth?

what of the SIXTY women who spoke?

their voices do not warrant proof?

were people just speaking words?

to deaf sign posts stating;

move on / get over it / don’t make a fuss / why should we believe you?

one person has lied before / you must be lying / that’s our automatic default

what hope then

for one girl?

one single soul

violated in the dark

of a house when all is moved out

and she is left inside a shell, within a shell

the echoes of trucks taking memories

somewhere else

how many women does it take?

to be heard.

Another day more

Had you asked me

To embrace the idea of dying, before allotted time

I’d have said, no savage emotion, ever led me that far

It was as if

I skated every so often, on thin ice of sadness

Without being absorbed, to its fathomless hollow

In that singular experience, I was far luckier

Than those who see only darkness

I had claimed my own piece of light

From a family legacy hell bent on repeating, the same shrouded walk.

From the start I altered trajectory, a mix of stubbornness and fear

For some will be proud of where they came, their strong willed ancestral history

And others … wish it wasn’t so … spend their lives trying to be anything else

I tried so hard, skin chaffed from my fingers, plucking my own way.

So you can imagine the depth of grief, felt reaching that same temporal state

Of wishing to ease the stir of life, by death’s permanent wick.

Often it is not the same course

Brings you to a well travelled place

But the last thing you’d expect

A sudden illness, like a thimble that lets in needle

As sharply she infiltrates your well being

Until hollow cheeked you are wretched, begging for end

On that day it so happened

The sky was the kind of blue dreams are made of

Emptied leaves reached up to embrace the rays

Newly returned birds called full throated to the world

And sitting with a desire to die, and place pain forever gone

I felt the sun on my face, heard the russle of last year’s leaves

My fatigue whispered, do it now!

And I did not listen

Because I truly wanted

To stay sitting in the sun

Another day more

A summation of a little life


The soul of solace

Always surprised

As if some spectator diety laughed at the absurdity of prediction 

For mortal souls

Never expected … solace often follows despair

Down a well beaten path

Where all colorful leaves have fallen and turned grey underfoot

She is the red cardinal, flickering like an lacquered fan opening, starkly bright against bleak winter sky

She is the tucked warmth of your bed, greeting weary limbs, needful of respite

A silver section of moonlight, glimpsing like thin nyaad at frosted window

She is the irregular beat of your memory, draining thoughts to drip wet til dry

A summation of a little life

Like a letter from an old friend, coming just when, you’d given up believing in serendipity

Yet she is there, watchful in the eves, of your blunders and taut anxiety

It is in the harmony of reconciliation, laying palm over palm, folding away pain, putting our best clothes on, even as we feel frozen

Walking through ice, glittering from dark branches and exposed tufts of miseltow

A tree filled with scarlet berries, feasted upon by tired ravens, huddled as one

The slow plume of smoke, a tang of burning wood and wet wool

Somewhere, something tries to survive

And pulling together like floundered ship, we tilt wildly and lurch against current

Holding on tightly, the ache in ourselves

Reminder that it is far from over

It may be sometimes grief steals our faith

And then, doorbell rings, a little light climbs in India ink sky

Some discovered solace, salve to thirsting soul, clamboring over emptiness and filling chill with hope

Sun


Thank you for loving me.

When my plait is full of burrs and

Stooping in pain, I resemble a wild thing, lost in herself

Thank you for loving me.

As night awakens terror’s and we bide our time in a pea boat, bobbing fitfully in green ditch

It is said 

You cannot love, if you do not first love yourself

That is false

It was you

Believing in me, staying long past easy

Helped to quench 

The natural tendecy to sell myself short

I hadn’t the heart for self love

It had healed badly without plaster cast

And would pain me when

The weather became cold

So I relocated

To a hot climate

But the ache followed 

Mindful of our tendency 

To repeat ourselves

Even in forgiving sun

Lay down your damage

A prayer was said

Shoulders touched

We bowed our heads

Even me, the last disbeliever

And as I bowed, I felt my crown 

Glisten as if, someone was baptized

A transfused light whispered

Lay down your damage

Separately unlock

Disease from health

Fear and habit

For we learn our lines

A little too well

In smoky glasses and from the bell

Tolling like a dry tongue overland

Where sound knocks on peace

Disturbing those who thought themselves free

A claim check, wet in your pocket

Salt stains on your cheeks

We cannot weep for who we were

Before the curtain came slowly to wooden floor

Only reach high to see

If in straining such weight releases

The trapped fur beneath us

Darting eyes the pretty prey

who can say

Yet we heave

Overboard those useless parts

Remade in full moon aching over Baskerville cloud

Not yet, not yet

But one day soon

Softly they capture

The soul set loose

She is the nimble girl who curled inside you, pounds for release

And panic is a thing with teeth

Set loose too soon

Let it pass in its frenzied rush

A drug addict to the hideous pulse of malformed balance

Turn away, instead, listen to the sway of pampas grass

And somewhere you are urging

Further than you dare trespass

For it takes in perpetual night

The eyes of a bird to spy

A way out without leaving

Blood in metal trap

Push fear back

She has overgrown her stay

Unhinge the cage

Be no more afraid

Of movement in darkness

Everything is possible when

You cease to hold the chain

Faithless

kal-yuga-2God did not speak to me

when I laid my head on your cold chest

He did not utter counsel nor

light a pathway

though still I listened

for an utterance or bright star

reflecting faith

I thought

if God is within me

I must find my own way

painting my feet the color of observance

ground ripe with reverberation

as forehead touching, I bowed

to some saint or sound beyond my own

phallic in his disapproval of my unwrapped head

there are so many Gods of men

and not so many who favor women

I asked GIA do you know why

the female Goddess is so quiet?

She smiled and the world split itself

into many fingered dancers

surely you know girl

she is everything and all around us

no need for words

they are the threadbare pockets of men

who failing to curb their lust

turn instead to science and Viagra

you do not need to concern yourself

Kali knows the direction well

she has danced it in blue slippers

every full moon

and women who carry their children

low in orchid womb

taste her in the brine of the Yangtze river

and the very tips of their new born’s tongue

as she licks her way into consciousness

we pass from each other the key

mother’s and life entwined as one set of beads

fickle is life

long the chain of dancers

holding their children high like

honeycomb candles lit for prayer

beneath the rusty hem of the world