For what they did yet not know

140829195756-22-women-in-comedy-restricted-horizontal-large-galleryYou thought it was bad when

you got your first zit

and the unblemished skin of your youth

erupted like Everest

you thought it was bad when

you got your first stretch-mark

and the smooth thighs and breasts of your growth

betrayed the camouflage

you thought it was bad when

you got your first scar

a thin line of emptiness which they said

the bikini would hide

you thought it was bad when

you sagged and you spun with weight loss and gain

in the span of twelve fevered months

and then it seemed

unimportant

because those scars

the immature loss of vanity and adulation

crying over not fitting into yourself

the lament of sudden change

was less than the stubborn plant of your feet

in survival

and you went to your neighbor

who was missing a breast

both of you shared

the disjointed humor of pain

and you went to your preacher

who had lost his testicle

he joked about being single

and you went to your park

saw women with brain tumors cut out

walking their high energy dogs

and you saw

this silly game of magazines and perfection

of I will stay 20 and flawless forever

of men who would leave when you get cut up and bleed

how it is but part of a bigger picture

that of sweat and guts and fear

and surviving through gritted teeth

even if he left because you were no longer perky and up for it

because you threw up at midnight instead of

giving him head

even if the girl at work could wear heels and short skirts

and you hid your swollen stomach behind swaths of cotton

or couldn’t get out of your bed

because then … just as everything seemed

to be wrinkling and disintegrating and rebuilding

into something unfamiliar and changed and partially incomplete

another man with light in his eyes

who didn’t care about such things

smiled at you as you walked beneath the yawning trees

because your medication said

avoid direct sunlight

and he said

I have the same problem which makes it hard living here doesn’t it?

and you talked and he smiled

and said

I like the way your eyes twinkle

and you said

I get that from my grandmother

even when she was eighty-five she was

proposed to by farmers who thought

she looked like a kind of Katherine Hepburn

and he said

I can see that

red

would you like to meet here tomorrow again?

and you saw the way the world really worked

underneath the adverts for boob jobs and butt lifts

and reality tv that’s nothing of the sort

his hand brushed yours and you saw

sunspots on both

it made you laugh

a little like a hiccuping hyena

and he laughed too

the survivors

beneath the canopy of life

snorting like five-year olds

as skinny joggers with air-brush tans ran past

with sad empty looks

for what they did not

yet know

A gilded age

The giant cicada makes a sound

my neighbor thought was a whistle

or a strange faceless bird

we imagined a long white beak

and thick black feathers

but it was the hidden molten cicada

and he is quite verbal

pursing a haunting music

as my cat refuses to eat his food again

unsure, is it his teeth? Or his desire

to slow down and curl up

once and for all?

I don’t guess their motivation

why the cicada sings

why I find the sound mournful

echoing my own inner feelings

as if I were writing out on clouds

exactly what was inside me

why the cat persists in refusing

my best efforts to keep him alive

whether it is right to let something you love

die even as

you think you can keep it

if the right time ever

exists to say goodbye

and why I don’t tend the greenhouse more often

as I put so much effort into

growing the little seedlings

do I prefer the solidity of well lived things

over youth?

thinking back to my own empty glass

and sallow bedsheets and

neglectful lovers

the wan asp of being twenty

like heirogliphs on walls

staring for eternity

not ageing, nor real

a gilded age

passing to creped hands in sunlight

and furrows from thinking too much

whether this skirt is a little tight

these shoes too high

the longing to be running barefoot

through high grass again, mindless

of any consideration

nothing around my neck

but wilted perfumed summer flowers

not the strain of trying to make

a life out of dry earth

with tears of disappointment

when all around seem so

tucked into their gentle cycles

and you are rogue

wanting to be among the branches

with the murmured cicada

listen to the call

much like the imploring whistle of a train

as it would steam slowly into town

every night at midnight

you would reach for me

and nothing else would hurt