Safe ascent

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This unspoiled place

holds a silence and a sound both

in the careen of wild bird, dove-tailing against light

swish tailed-fox, caught in glimpsing treeline, scar of russet

your wool pulled and caught like thoughts on wire

I felt you inside, like mercury, descending to places I’d locked

tight against battering fists and claim

how did you learn the maze and possess

parts of me I had yet to give permission?

though all of us are like the wool, caught and fluttering

against a world of happen-chance and calamity

it is only perhaps, in those untethered moments

love, unexplained by all things

captures in unguarded step

drowning tightly held belief

we are our own master

and in this yield

in your arms and the void calling overhead

a vast sky holds swell of rain

just long enough

for our safe ascent

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When we are supposed to laugh

She runs her hands along the grain, movement a stain

hearing rust loosen and turn to red and green exquisitely

grief lies her head slower in time

perhaps given enough, doors opening to learn

why she holds her hand over her mouth so long

as her sisters, once younger and afraid, nesting behind her skirts

flew from their hinged cages, they had less fear than she

though in truth it is not fear that stays her hand

but a lament she was born with, hearing in her crib, the press of tragedy

Like some will carry lanterns, light darkest paths, for others to step towards

as her sisters learn to speak new language and grow like hungry ivy

she feels the pit of her stomach open and a seedling sprout from within

it hurts so much to grow internally, like a miscarriage refusing to leave

she holds on to every moment as thick rope will choke, if you let it

she must drive it out of her

but how to divorce the parts necessary for survival? Retain a whole?

from those who seek to devour

as light will find a way into a closed off room

distinction slowly lost, leaving shadows to dance on clean tile

the smell of another day, unsure, it is about all time before, come to now

see her lying still, as untouched water in glassy gloom

how she wished to follow their burning quilled footsteps

higher into turquoise forest where even now, laughter can be heard

below surface where nothing stirs, but slow tread of one who is neither alive nor perished

but fragment awaiting its missing part

she thought so often it was you, and then her empty hands

demonstrate

the futility of wishing

for we are free only when, we claim nothing but the words growing in our gut

urging us to cry when we are supposed to laugh

The road

At first the road seemed seemed impassable

Such a long distance with no sighted end

90 pounds was

A hollow eyed effigy, struggling not to drown

100 pounds was

A sickened mouth, forcing itself to swallow and chew

110 pounds was

A hunger to gain lost appetite, swill of food laying heavy with each urged step

120 pounds growing muscle

Punching the fuck out of weakness and despair

125 the goal, she fought, her joints bloody and plastered together

When she arrived, her body, her mind, her vibrating soul, she stood and cried

At the distance she’d travelled, cracked knuckles captured in dried clay

Stretching like bad memories, bleached by unrelenting sun

In spite of this, still, a flower is able to bloom

Random cruelty

Her mouth

Had a tremor

Just beneath the surface

It spoke

Of the repression of horror

If she let it out

That creature would

Climb to the highest point

And start screaming, needful not of words.

She wrapped her arms around her chest

Feeling the absence of one breast

Her mom used to say

You forgot to grow into a woman, flat chested sparrow chick

Her boyfriend liked her angularity

It’s not very Latino, her sister decried

Shaking her own ample swelling bossom

She favored simple necklines and no bra, catching soft balls with callused hand

Then why she wondered

Did my breast betray me?

I never demanded anything of her

My children did not

Tug with hungry mouths on her unduly

Nor a lover, bite unkindly deep

She felt the tight, smooth scar

Like a flat knife lain on her chest, like unwanted medal

It seemed to hotly whisper

The curling, metal irony of us all

Without sufficient power to stave

Fate’s random cruelty

(For all women)

Endure

Along with recovery

I had wished

For one neighbor’s heart to heal, as he tried to mend a leak

Another, to survive the scouge of sudden cancer

For the little bird to find her red box

Fill it with branches and lay her eggs

Nestled blue against the hope of frail humans

For rebirth and warmer days

When the winds were the only thing to die

And maybe the scold in a voice, twisting the knife

Yes, wish it away, along with traces of fear

You have survived the winter, you are still here

The same curled toes and cold fingers, clinging on

If you don’t die, you live, and that’s what you find

As false friends fall and new are born

As spring gathers her skirts and grass turns from brown to hopeful green

As your neighbor touches your hand and his eyes speak

Of the simple gratitude of caring

You didn’t receive it where you thought it would be

There are branches higher up than you can see

Maybe the little bird right now is looking for her nesting

And just like you, she seeks the comfort of knowing

If you make your home warm and secure

They can huff and puff

But you will

Endure

This wide world

marthagraham1It is lovely

Watching you sleep

Perchance to dream

And with the late snow storm

Whitening outside like hungry baker

Spilling his bag of flour

We cocoon ourselves

Close by spitting fire

Casting spirit animals on chalky walls

The photos of your ancestors

Their ink held eyes glaring

I fear they may not understand

Our kind of intimacy

Their world scrapped tenderness

For raw knuckled survival, no time for choice

Yet we knead our own rise with weary elbows

Perhaps the nature of love has changed clothes

And now wears matching nightgowns, joining toes under blankets

Reading books with curling corners, still watching with appreciation

When like a slip of shimmering glass

You get up to draw the curtains

Only the sound of falling snow

Hushed against our warm roof

Can be heard in this wide world

Fixed on open door

If you said today

Run away

I’d reply

I’m too old of heart for taking chances

And yet

If I could leave behind

These footprints of hell

I’d turn my bag inside out

Leave the clothes that made me and now don’t fit

They can hang on tree limbs for another girl

Who hankers after fushia and magnolia

If you can live without

A stomach

I’d set mine free

And empty as a cloud, run

In your direction toward the sea

Where salt spray would take the last

Residue of this awful time, turning back horror

Remind me of joy I once took as permanent

Clamboring through live oak, like fairy folk,

Rays of light like stars shine down from sky

Happy dogs, wet with run, tongues lolling, espie March rabbit

The thin stream between content and crestfallen

Just one turn of fate and all you cherished is gone

Reclaiming yourself somehow, among the fallen

How can you expect to thrive when pain halts every nuance?

A burden you do not know how to lift, for it

Wakes you every dawn with insisted sickening

And if you could, you’d disguard the parts that betray you

Run into the heartlands with nothing more than release

And the long legged stride of a creature unwilling

To be shared

For you are a child of this world and no harm is meant

To slow your step, as you cleave toward pilgrimage

One flat foot in front of the other

Setting prints in ochre mud for generations

Where they will ask, how did she keep trying?

Despite the steapness of the trail

And the lapse into despair, how did she

Keep her compass set?

If you said today

Run away

I’d reply

I’m too old of heart for taking chances

And yet …

One foot follows freedom even as the other

Chaffs against chain

It is in my nature, to seek the wild

Among nature, reclaim, loss of liberty

Trying to pin me to insect board

Dry up my dreams, pack away the urge

You haven’t claimed all of me

As long as a part stays

Fixed on open door

I will in time defeat this shackle

Turning into a bird

Threading my flight far

From your waning power.

If you said today

Run away

I’d reply

I’m too old of heart for taking chances

And yet

I want the girl who was just there a moment ago

Who stood on tip-toes and wore clothes twenty years too young

Who didn’t brush the back of her hair and ate with her mouth lolling

If it were a matter of wishing myself better, I’d sell it all and start over empty handed

Reclaim the lost self, in the strange soup of sickness that makes enemies of us

I want to wake up and be, a girl of air and sea and breath

I want to feel whole and no longer racked by hurt

Go forward in time and reclaim what is lost

make me well again, said the child, in the girl, in the woman.