Back to life

What is this place that one returns to?

for some, possible, easy even

to put aside a person, shelve them with other memories

like a box of postcards growing yellow

whilst I was always the girl who climbing on top of boxes

found the postcards and brought them down

splayed like restless tarot on my lap

try to fathom, walk back into time

absent people, love letters sent to

girlfriends now married, unrecognizable

childish handwriting, burst of emotion scored in yesterday’s colors

I have always liked stories and wanted

to read the secret histories of those

who would not share them with me

so your letters I had to put

in a green river one by one

for fear if they were not wet and destroyed

I’d read over and over til you came back to life

finding myself

running lonely highway to your home

knocking on your still familiar door expecting to see

your living breathing face, cheeks infused with color

smiling in that way only you did

when I stood before you.

When someone has died

they steal air from the room

leaving behind closed windows

rattling against wind and chill

you have to go in with heavy shoes

make noise, shake cold from your bones

open them wide until pure sunlight

blinds primal darkness

I recall

how your hair looked when

sun stroked it in streams of light

how unbroken perfection of your skin

resembled fruit, summer time and children

lolling about in gardens upsidedown, tongue out

though you were older, I always felt

protective in that way I imagine a parent may

reaching for their child, smelling joy and motion

of their life laid out ahead in patient sillouette

I have always been remote and stood away

from frilled crowd with hidden daggers

content to observe and only participate

in flung arms of dancing and those raw easy things

not requiring sustained inspection

it takes a lot for me to wish

to share myself with another

to open up those parts of me, I struggle to reconcile.

unceasing criticism can close off even the thirsty traveler desperate

to sit by warming fire and stoke shadows to divination.

With you, we were two unsupervised kids

sitting on the dusty floor of my attic

opening boxes of memories with fearless hands

we talked without fear, then as

day began to show her pink slip in sky

I’d take your slim arm and lead you

into my bed where

light enveloped our heads like halos and we tasted the rapture of undisturbed acceptance

see in the eyes of one born of me

part of you

our mingled DNA taking lilac wing

in the electricity of love making

I could smell you on me afterward

and loathe to bathe

stayed writing by the window

watching you cycle away

the strong muscles in your skinny legs peddling like

knock-kneed urchin

turning the corner

always leaving

the circumfrance of you behind

radiating on the road

like a mirage

and in my hair and on my body

a ghost or whisper of

someone absent and close

if I could have kept you safe

or stopped time

but the heart is a closing flower

once damaged she ushers her dancers

fold into velvet, trap the dream

we were strangers, then siblings

of sorrow and laughter

like night and day play

on the fringe of their fading

your dusky skin against my pale

never enough time

to say what I wanted to say

in language untranslatable

to mortal minds

we existed as pollen

carried on high wind will

strike new life into that which sleeps

drousy and given over to liquid day

and I have never returned to that place

without a throat full of pain

wanting to call your name

hear your return

the indent of your existence

anything but

silence

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Between us both we made it whole

1076417_Two_women_by_the_sea

Lean in, listen, I will only say it once

the shame, prevents a repeat

I must learn, not to be the person I have

my love, I’m not the girl you think I am

I don’t know where she went

I just stepped out for a moment & everything was gone

she might have gotten old, lost her way

that’s what happened when you keep

getting in the way of yourself

i’ve been waiting years for the sun to rise

remember how I used to be such a good dancer?

it was the tempo we inherited in each others grace

we turned like sundials who responded to moonlight

it hurts to think of those times

your hands entwined in mine like forest branches

creating crowns from winter flowers

piano keys winding down, ebony and ivory shivering

as opposites tripping velvet usher of hope

connection is such a rare place to find

change wrecking in tiny pinches & blows

your laughter echoing through stung lights

tea color turning gardens into amber

glasses of red wine like jewels against your blush

it was like a key I carried for years that never fit

you were the lock opening to me

you know when it’s right because everything has music

even when doves roost in pink dawn

holding back their flight until I open my eyes

the exquisite weight of you in my arms

i’d been living on scraps & empty cans before

you filled me with reasons to be full

loss is always worse when it’s blazingly real

and so little is real in this little bitter world

I could taste our memories on my tongue

after you left me standing in the rain

I saw you jumping up, catching drops with your mouth

felt the emptiness of your absence like a whetted knife

gutting me like a hunted thing, disgarded after pursuit

the funny thing was, I never blamed you

if I hadn’t felt so much, if I wasn’t the person i’d become

when bad things happen I always look in the mirror

and see why the arrow sticks

someone taught me that so long ago

I can’t even remember how to undo

the self defeat

but when we danced close I forgot those things

waiting to live & witness easy moments

of blue and red & your color, which is indescribable

I told you I would never leave you alone

the last time I trusted, it felt as if we grew up together

two pieces of butcher string nobody wanted

one of them got on a boat, found the horizon of you

aimed her direction like a sinuous archer

everyone else knew how to get through this labored life

my tricks were imploding, I had no wind up key

but you gave me the confidence to try

when I couldn’t do it anymore, you held me to the light

we flew past the wreckage others feasted on

I never expected to lose my one friend

as much time that passes, feels like only a second

slaughtering against shattered words

since I was that young smooth skinned woman learning to

cleave to you

it’s a curse to remember everything

to know no-one will ever come looking for me

like you did

because we recognized in the other

a reflection

something similar & broken

between us both, we made it whole

even though you are gone & where you sat

is cold and emptied of any trace

I still

look out for you

when it rains I think I hear

your footsteps in puddles, coming home

smell your wet sweater on hissing heater

your handprints on my cheeks, pressing hot kisses

my heart aches like it has

inherited the loss of all four seasons

of your absence & no amount of time

has the power over the memories of

how much you meant to me

they haven’t yet

invented words sufficient to convey this brand of grief

losing yourself in another brings

clouds murmuring over hilltops beckoning

darkness from fearful surround

and if you close your eyes

it almost feels like I am

lost in the spiral darkness

with you

sharing death

like we shared

everything of life

together

Two cars going in separate directions

What is contained in motion? In separation? In the fluid trajectory of two cars

driving in different directions

when once they drove together in one, singular and twice

with music playing like a warm stove in Winter

watchful eyes glinting at the movement of her soapy shoulders

inhaling a song they both liked

was it really so long ago? time can be a fickle fellow

you believe things have not changed before

the car wreck distorting metal into specters, and then mangled see

all the signs and wonders leading to your loss

glaring and obvious as they were not before

I would say four years, six, maybe more

since like powdered sugar you shook her

out of your system and changed the channel

you think she couldn’t pick up on the dull flat key of your promises

or the way you did not meet her pleading eye

and had someone else nearby

parked with engine still running

waiting her eventual hot buttered turn

you were bound to return to the past

as your memory dissolved through gauze

that is all that remained sharp

like a knife on my chest will cut

only so deep and then retreive

sticky piecemeal

baking it into cakes and giving alms

when we are neither penitent nor dead

but live on

in seperation

as time comes and goes like a trance

one moment I am holding a glass

of your words

believing myself loved

the next the house is being emptied

sold for next family to inhabit, my footsteps

there was a time I held onto

boxes of memories like a kite

I saw if you let go of the string

they rose higher and higher out of sight

more beautiful for freedom

now I can pack the entirity of me

in one small bag and still have room for heartache

this is the season of change

the radio host warns us of impending rain

another storm like last year and the one before

we threw sharp glances at each other until there was no more

blood left inside to keep warm

I feel no regret, only the beckon of movement

on to the future and maybe

I will not need a car where I am heading

watching the horizon bleed

its first bidding autumn evening

and I remember laying with you watching tv

in the dark, the feel of your fingers on my neck

remember reading Bridges of Madison County, thinking

surely people do not live like that

and the car

waiting at the stoplights

long after they could have driven on

blinking in humid downpour

blinking for her to get out and run toward

something already buried and underground

I hear the gear shift

watch in rear mirror

the outline of you

grow gradually thinner

against orange light

and the sound of someone

crying out

https://youtu.be/voZI8NXEO6M

Forget

dancing-in-the-rain

Water

Tears

Blurred screens

Disconnected numbers

I lost my memory in a dish I left outside

the rain filled it up and soon thoughts

sodden and wrinkled

were illegible

It was you

you were the one dancing in the rain

you were the one who sheltered me from the storm

with your skinny arms and your little heart

It was I

who burrowed inside your cave and found

the fiery part and claimed it, kept it burning

long after the rain stopped

we lay in velvet darkness

your hand resting against my cheek

in the way only unraveled people sleep

I heard your dreams

you felt my body move

curl about you like

an extension of your desire

we contained the sum

of us

in a little boat

kept aloft by hope

when you said hope died

the flame behind your eyes

the one looking at me with such tenderness

blew out

behind in its place

soot and smoke gathered

like regretful children with dirty hands

smudging their best pictures

late summer rain drowned out

the sound of me calling

you would have heard but you had

long stopped listening

it poured, soon streets were awash

a symbol, a crucifixion, something terribly broken

something crushed underfoot, losing form

you bent to pick up the pieces of my heart

but could not read the words

for you had also lost your past and our history

I no more featured than the last time it rained

long long ago

when the trees were still thin and straight

not bent and crooked offering up their rotten roots

then you were a woman who loved someone else

I was a piece of paper

too wet to decipher

had you wanted to

and you did not

you did not

The Analyst & Peter Pan

Holding tears beneath excessive eye-make-up

not smart when pealing secrets from heartache

I noticed the Analyst had cut her hair

in Jewish faith, hair is a woman’s greatest vanity

to cut it, often a sign of extreme despair

I cut mine when I was sick, it fell like a lambs tail

to the floor in red scissored ribbons

in the mirror I looked like a shorn stranger

trying to climb out of familiar eyes

reminding me of the time I sheered it off at 16

my lover left me soon after, he did not care for short-haired girls

I told the Analyst I liked her new look

wondering if there was a story behind it

the never-never velvet glove of Pan’s world

his need not to be a he or she or have a Wendy

instead to be free as we are at ten when

nothing of this world can truly touch us

gender becomes a learned yoke in the future

she recalled her sheer days of freedom

wishing to return as we all do, to a kinder time

I do not know if I am this or that

but I know what I am not

I felt it was honest, when you do something big

there is always more of a story behind an act

I sat looking out of the small office window

remembering sitting there before

sick and heaving

thin and fat

slump shouldered, bare-faced and dolled up in war paint

I remembered

driving to you and dancing in my limbs

as I saw you look up and wink

changing the light with your smile

knowing

I will never leave that office and find you again

because you were gone even then

I just hadn’t known it

too sick, too set on denial and fever dreams

perhaps when you know you will never experience

that feeling again

it is harder to let go, watch such a large part of you, fade into background

you are grieving she said

her short hair in her face

I thought of you and the pulse, laying like a long empty road, between us

my heart squeezed with a terrible pain

children flying from an open window into stars

tears splash on my skin, like your touch

which I will not feel again in this life time

so you pronounced with granite in your eyes

and I nodded

dumbly

unable to say anything more

but watch the light

skip in and out of the small windowpane

where once I held

as much pure love

as Peter Pan

Out of Africa

Karen I think of you

pretending I know what your face looks like

ashen and sun-lit that day his plane

did not reach its destination

you knew

in that instinctive way

the weigh and measure of

incalculable things

felt twisted in our gut

like a wrung towel

retaining pressure

he was a man of air and Africa

the painted land

reaching like a hennaed bride

across plain and prairie

you can smell freedom

where we all began

born of clay and rain

growing to the rhythm of

dovetail butterflies gathering

their meal of date palm and black mangrove

yellowwood and senegalia groves leading

the mosaic paths of animals

honey bees and cicadas

drone air with song of nectar and molting

impala with their great dipped ink horns

slender heat parched bodies eyeing crest

for hyena or aardwolf staring predator

while sable antelope merge

their burgundy brown into

baked fecund earth

staring at skies for sign of rain

as you

look upward

seeing in your minds eye

his falling plane

imagine in urgent moment

greatest pain

all the years ahead you will

be without him

is death, you wonder

more merciful than life?

capturing the heart

at its perfect balance

where like a flower

you can stoop to preserve

its potency

no mind

it is the prayer of days ahead

rigid and unmoving in their sorrow

where you hold your face expressionless

howling in your mirror when all have left

and the monkey chatter

the smell of him everywhere

talking ghosts of touch, reaching, reaching out

you pretend, you submerge in that

twilight of denial and mad hope

staying long after death, the last visitor to leave

the funeral

Transplant

Your hands seemed always too small

To crush between them

Like indigo dust

The entirety of my heart

Turned to chalk

Yet so you did

A hundred times in preparation

Causing a dysrythmia of fits and starts

As a bullet will pierce and find its worst punctuation

I felt your hands

Reaching inside me and clasping my beating muscle with eagerness

Turn to calcified rock, that which adored you

Just as once you swam within my cove

A lone mermaid, protected by gentle shore and salinity of my devotion

It took too long to become aware

Of that ache and trespass

The stranger in your eyes hurling goodness out the door

An unmade resonance of your own heart

Beating further and further

Away from me like castaway beacon

For something precious, we hardly wish to give up upon

We make excuses for the continued lack

The savage dearticulate rending of gentle emotion

As this grave beseachment, that you stay with me here in this place we created

When you felt the same and held me tighter than hands borne in storm

Will cling to wreckage

I

Never let you go

I

Held on by stitching myself to you

Skin pulling against skin

Submerged and blind I feel for your shape

So dear to me and known over all the world

You who has shucked your hide and flown

As molting cicada will leave behind

Crusty exterior without whole

I was fooled by the echoes of love

And your words you gave, without conviction

I saw in your eyes the truth burning

Indifferent to me and my existence

I was no more to you than

A knot to be undone and placated

I do not know why

You could have brought the knife out and sunk it to the hilt and twisted until

That cry escaped me

as you longing to … will fight the urge to disclose

Your transplant

Why stay and pretend?

Your hands not touching me, hold by your side like wooden plough

Eying furtile crescent of low sheering moon

I am not an earth capable of disgorging life

My land is barren without your kindness

The sun turns me to whitened parchment

I write with scarlet fingers

Of your abandoned nourishment

The ebb and flow before all fluid is lost

No more the cascading ocean

Cresting high with furious need

To hold me once more, horses of foam arching overhead

I ran to the shoreline and saw your sail

Catching first gust and with all mighty exhale

Smile toward the sun, the relief of the free

Unchained from us, I hadn’t known or perhaps refused to own

How you sought your release

Shining like a newly forged key on the operating room of my transplant

No more beating heart

No more the sound of you, rushing in my blood

We amputate pain if we are strong

But I am no warrior

It is the mark of how deeply I felt

I wear my scar

A red ribbon down the middle of my chest

Where you reached, where you existed

Where you left