The look in their eyes

Walking around, you don’t even need to convince yourself you’re all right

such is the layer upon layer, you don’t even see, until it creeps up and then

blocking out the sun, darkness invades sight and everything is at once, changed.

I am standing beneath awning, the sun is nearly out, it’s a windy day and the chimes in the back garden keep a steady sound

as I have always been, I am attached but not part of, another dynamic, a family with their own ways of doing things

I bend to learn and listen, I smile when expected, at times I think I feel comfortable with my toes dipped in

he has sorrow etched on his face though he is still young, his eyes betray him and a slight quiver in his mouth when

she clearly doesn’t care

I want to ask her, what happened to cause the rift, but everything is fragile and tenuous as if we are tiptoeing around

a sleeping giant

since childhood I learned to pick up on what to avoid and what to leave untouched, the manners of an outsider

accutely atuned to other people’s needs and emotions

not quite an empath, I can tell when they need time alone, if I should make myself scarce

and all at once I recall, aged eight or so, doing just the same, sitting on a cold flight of stairs for many hours

picking at my shoe laces, tying and untying them, making stories with crumbs and the wrinkles in my joints

hearing their argument echo through the thin door

I am good at placating, massaging egos, staying invisible when necessary and picking up the pieces afterward

her eyes are flashing, she puts on a pair of high heals and I can tell what she is thinking though she would never say

she wants to run and pack a bag and leave and find someone else, anyone else

and his need is as palpable as paint vapor, she is strangled by it and her own indifference

I want to ask; You loved each other once, where did it start to fall apart?

do you think they’d even remember now? Unlikely. Too many years building walls

to keep each other out, they forget in their effort, the beginning of them and how

happy they looked in that photo.

I want to tell her, you have everything you need here, I can see it in his movement, it is as if he acts out the ache he feels

I want to tell him, if it’s going to be this way forever, pack a bag, leave before your heart turns to dust

I want to save them and mend them, and make it right

for the sake of the child whose toys we pick up and put neatly away, as if that

will save anything, or stop him from one day remembering

the look in their eyes

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Against the unknown world

They move together like quicksilver

indisipherable in pursuit

there is such a love in his eyes

her smooth hands cup his mouth

drinking the words he would gush

if they were not pressed tightly, one to the other

locked in an embrace

that gives life

quickening as signature is fluid

when she finds out, she imagines telling her daughter twenty years hence

the story of her conception;

your father and I loved you very much

we lay down by the fireplace, he took me in his arms

from this passion you were forged into life

clay breathed upon, bearing breath and soul

you were wanted, even before you chose

to fill us with yourself

my stomach grew and grew until

it was a tight drum on which to paint

the symbols of your dream

**

He moved in her, his eyes tightly shut

he thought of other women, he thought of touching himself

in the office toilet at lunch with folded magazine

and why such things happened when he had all he could ever want

here in his arms, still he betrayed with desires, ill-tuned to eternal love

when she grew fat and round he did not

wish to hold her quite so tightly, or touch her hot flushed pressing flesh

he thought of others, he got up early, and jogged his frustration into sweat

**

Don’t worry the doctor smiled, with a savage wink

as she labored and her face grew red and her hands sought his

and he wanted to run from the room and shove well fed nurse

against the wall and pour his horror of birth and future into her lipsticked sighs

don’t worry the doctor smiled, with a savage wink

i’m going to sew her up even tighter, it will be like

Christmas day when you unwrap her again

the quintisential “husband’s stitch”

and over his starched cloak and gown, the doctors grey eyebrows

went up and down and he, who was lost

lurched and threw up at the violence and the shame

of men and of women and of life and death, inequality and lust

**

then his daughter was born

fat and round and squalling loudly

if he could have interpreted those words, he felt they spoke to him a repromand

for his cowardice and his fears, imagining being a father

of growing up and settling down, of love and impossible challenges and joys

he saw his wife’s face, wet with sweat and hair plastered down

he felt more than he had ever felt, the emptiness of the past replaced

no longing to empty himself in the coldness of pornography as she slept

a lifetime from the day he first took her to bed and

stripped her of choice with impregnated seed

and now he knew

the fear of men is the strength of women

his daughter fixed him with swollen red eyes

watching him with a stearness that seemed to say

you can do this, you got this, you are not your worst thought

you can be who you want to be, you can be my father, you can love these women

you can direct our future, reshaping mountains

or fall into the arms of least resistance, worship the emptiness of hollow gestures

she seemed to be saying with her tiny fists and pursed lips

turn away from your shallow sport, take this road with us

he who once was weak, grew with love

those things that once were, no more

his resilience, their armor

against the unknown world

Ode to absentia

I have written enough about you to fill a slim volume

or maybe two ships

set sail for one of the countries you visit

sending me letters in the day, with marks and fingerprints from all around the world

they would smell

like you, even as that was impossible

and I prepared, as nobody ever can

for the day I would lose you

why not, you ask, appreciate the now, when you are here on earth?

I have, though, we have never spent our lives together or even entwined

I have been saying goodbye all these years

yet it will not be sufficient, it could never be enough

you are more of me, than myself

and I feel you inside even though you are not here now, and gone in the future

loving you has felt like continual loss and little gain

yet I do, more than anything else, for you are that kite, unmoored itself and got away

the thought that comes creeping up as you laugh, as if I had a twin, and yes, she was the one who grew in courage, living full in ways I knew only from books

you have the lifeline of twenty palms and though you could not be a mother, you have always inspired me, like the character from a favorite story

reaching near and never touching, someone marvelous and unable to approach

I live sometimes with my eyes seeing through yours

the waves of your life nearing but never reaching, shore

at some point there will be a day when you are not simply absent and not around the corner

but further then, impossible to mend, hands of time, spent longing

it may be my song to want and not receive, the beauty that is you, and your life as it cleaves

further away, until from a great distance I cannot distinquish, squinting until my eyes hurt and run

I would if I could, but I never have, and I won’t

it is the theatre of our lives to play out

my role is that of thirsty

yours to make ordinary seem

extrodinary

you are the giver of dreams

I shall always wish

for one more day where I see

your figure coming closer through the dusk

perhaps to stay a while, even if we do not touch

I long, in layers, not to lose, what I have, not.

Empty space


Will I go back in time? 

Wet stockings, drying like chapped hands on weazy radiator

Your disapprobation, her disinterest, parents who

Took poorly to the role

And I, their disappointment

Not strictly failure

More a damp root, a smell of mold

Reminding them of empty spaces within themselves

I lay, hot brow, empty handed, slack mouthed, dearticulated by illness

Briefly relieved to be cut loose

And years passed overhead without sound

Tiny dancers on the globe turning time

Until they could not be certain, of ever having had

A child

Nor was I sure, I had been born

Such is the potency of separation

We can remove ourselves to point of extinction

And now I may return, the Archer retracing steps

With fine lines and trembling notion, mangled by distance

They cast every doubt in nets of resentment

No doubt it was a relief not to attempt a role

Illsuited to 

People without need

We forget

Going home is often empty

Children of absence 


The world is strange

how for some death is a petite mort

for others, not pleasure nor hell

just a slice to be taken out and left without warmth

they can with their approximating whole

continue without sore heart

while others

they are vigil in grief

nothing mends what is broken

I was told once this is weak

it is the substance of survival that we let go, move on

those who are able to open their fists

those who feel less or brew sense of senseless things

I am therefore not strong

for death stings like it has

pressed its poisonous quill deep

my heart lays heavy in its fur cloak

nothing really aids grief

but the passing of time and memory

ushering us further from the moment

like a worried parent seeking retreat

though we know

as with all circles we will return inevitably to completion

and I wonder since I do not believe

in Gods and Devils

but occasionally I am convinced monsters may, be an exception

where then, shall we find ourselves?

after all our pieces have fallen and the board is emptied

will I feel you next to me still?

as dust, we strive to rejoin star light

or will a wink be simply a wink out?

and so gentle light is drowned

for a time it worried me until

I saw this as a curtain fall, something peaceful almost alluring

what hurts us is not our own demise

but the loss of others to the other side

where shade invagels night and the smudge of life

for none of us

not even the preacher

who believes he sees the face of Jesus in the sky

can truly know what happens

when those we love die

it is the ache of their absence

even if that love was filled with holes

incomplete moments where like a colindar 

we saw more water fall than keep

I know loving me was at best a fractured and intermittent thing

but real love is not how you felt, it is the emotion I had

Stirred into my rise, even as you walked away 

even as need became a habit, not a desire

I may have always been

following you, looking for breadcrumbs

and you may have rarely noticed

your child who wanted so badly to matter

but I find time changes those emotions

it is ultimately the love I bare

irrespective of your own

that will hurt the most

when you are not around to call

hoping you pick up the phone or

send me a postcard ‘I am having a wonderful time’

and my only regret will be

just one more day I’d like

to know you were on this earth

a feeling of being as secure as you can

with nothing underfoot

we get used to little, us, children of absence

we learn to eat what we are given

and from nothing comes so much

it springs up 

around emptied houses and abandoned lots

like red weeds will show

vivid and wild

in a landscape of naught

we are the tender feelings who labor

in spite of all

and that I believe is the depth and mercy

of a full heart 

 

Children with no reflection

girl-fishingMy feet were always too big for vintage shoes

granny said

girl you’re outgrowing your ancestors

measured my 1980’s girth with pokered face

disgracing corselet historians with modern gait

I never was the black-eyed-girl of my father’s heart

his own ungainly DNA bore him a chip off the old block

who knew his self-loathing would rub free like lint

on the broad shoulders of imperfect kin

you’ve no delicacy in your frame girl

your hands are too wide for these kid gloves

you cannot fit into the stays and confines of the past

where did you come from? changeling?

half and half in one world and the next

part girl part boy part aberration an inverse

it was easier to steal a pair of dungarees

climb the old knobbly willow tree

dropping apple pips in indigo pond

a disappointing girl with one eye patched lest it wander

I saw my delicate mother and her child’s form

rush like a dancer into applauding future

gone from those who would love her best

she left a horse hair brush that smelt of her skin

and I did not know what to be

standing there with my unliked shell of pallor

a mockery of fallen relations between two lovers

retreating to the verge of attention their child

I waited until nobody expected me home

muddied, stained and bramble scratched

children with no reflection

if you asked me then whom I loved the most

I would have pointed to the owl

grand in his luminous white feathers

for he saw the little girl’s disappointment

and together they sang

low into night

to beckon timorous vole

closer

Used to

938271-4096That time

I cut my hair with rusty sheers

just to avoid

hurting you

easier to take it out on myself

rejection makes me a fool

this time

I cut my hair properly and it looked

better than it had since my eyes

did not require to appear full of hope

you always wanted me to keep it long

so I could not see my way out

I stayed

far too still

warm in the notion

you cared

when you had left

long before

and the chill

became something

I was used to