Where you once turned

Without you I am a blank erased space

emptied of misletoe

I am the weed that grows fitfully from concrete

without nourishment I survive

but survival is too great a word for what I do

enduring time like chewing tobacco

to be masticated and spat

black and stinking on unsullied

surface

you are the spark within me

I used to have many years ago

a key I misplaced

perhaps I hung it from a tree I was climbing

and it was simply lost

though I suspect

the key drowned

fell to the bottom of the lake

and was unreachable

glittered as it did from the depths

my own hand claimed

by weeds and gravity

the need to be lost in that

murmuring ache

I saw the key once in a while

sparkling from below and for a few hours, maybe a day

I could pretend briefly like a long drink

I was wearing scarlet tights again and you were

pushing me in the shopping cart

my cheeks red with laughter

the rings on your fingers counting down the days

until we cut our hair and sealed ourselves inside

envelopes to nowhere

you were always better at

pretending there was a point

I did not know how to

make things grow in my garden

with you absent

the moon even

an eclipsing reminder

of those waning moments

before the storm

so still the skies

so hush the trees

like velvet inhabited nature

a majesty of peace

I closed my eyes feeling

the length of your slim arm

a pulse behind our skin

like neon lights left flickering

long after dark

your eyes reflected against

deep pools of water and gathered

tears all emotion spent and real

something sincere in every ushered

appreciation of you

even as I am the only one

still paying attention

for you are staring out of windows

watching migrating birds

cross colorless skies

they are heading away

and you wish

for something to stir

the calm opiate within

your spare and unheated room

feel something

again

turning to stone

slow and grave like visitors to a wake

sometimes it feels like preparation for

our own funeral

yet there is life still

catching and flickering

the smell of sulfur

the sound of laughing

when we knew nothing and we knew one thing

the resound of the other

making music in

all we touched

and you touched me

deeply and with the earnest of

something bound not to last

for a flame is most beautiful

when it is fragile and almost

gives out

lighting darkness and ourselves

just enough

until it is not

and there is cold again

in our cupped hands

beseeching the void

where you once turned

and all the world existed

in the love from your eyes

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The wounded eyed girl

15Before I knew myself, uttered out loud the words

labeling me a this or a that or a who knows?

I developed feelings for a wounded eye girl

we were kids really, dressing up as Japanese geisha in my room

all festooned in asian print and a little tea set I got for cheap

from china town

we wore chopsticks in our hair and bowed ceremoniously

singing the only song we knew in Japanese

with The Mikado playing in the background

I liked her thin arms and her prominent nose

her knock knee urchin look and bandaged soul

I liked how strong she was even as she looked like she’d fly away

most of all I was attracted to her wounded eyes

for there is something heady and bewitching in

pain

and its infinite manifestations

we’d dress up, I would paint her lips scarlet, we’d put on

funny accents and roll on the floor looking up at glow stars

I still had stuck there with movie posters of vampires

she would fling her arm out across my chest,  tell me of herself

pouring out the suffering of her short life

and it was an awful life before she was

brought to this city we lived in, both from somewhere else

transplants, orphans, ghosts of ourselves with missing DNA

she would tell me of her homeland, how

her father beat her black and blue for

being a girl

why as she got older he took

each of her sisters one by one

and they didn’t come back

whole or even

well repaired

I wanted to lick the pain from her cheeks and hold her to me

until the wound healed

but nothing I could ever do would assuage

the wounds behind her dark brown eyes

so we played as little girls do

building camps and tepees and western saloons

once I played a prostitute and she a cowboy

I cocked my head, snapped a red garter and asked her;

want to have some fun soldier?

she laughed, such a lovely laugh

her black hair and coffee skin, shining with fantasy

she didn’t like being herself anymore than me

we got into our pretend saloon bed

I served her a pretend shot of whiskey

acted ‘saucy’ the way I had learned from TV

she rolled her eyes laboriously like a comedian winking

pulled up my petticoats which were real

and at one point had been my mother’s wedding dress

when she married my father, bare foot and broke

with a velvet ribbon tied around her neck

and our fingers explored each other

as we giggled and changed our voices to all the favorite

TV characters we knew

I think I even tried to be Sue Ellen

I wanted to tell her then, not to stop

to press my mouth to her pomegranate lips

touch her swelling breasts with my own lack of

run myself like a cat across her saffron skin

but even then I knew

damage makes bad bed fellows

we soon changed the game, to cops and robbers

climbing out of the window, swinging from trees

though in every story

there was an element of romance

I thought of the old shows I loved

where the actors were always

dancing around the circumference

of each others heart

how in real life sometimes they married

I told my father; Oh see! Oh see! pretend things can come real!

but some cannot

and she and I grew up

once she told me she had always known I felt like that

I blushed dark red because of course

thinking I’d been subtle when watching her changing clothes

she married a blonde haired man and moved to Australia

had a little boy and hopefully

a ceasing of her alotment of pain

because more than anything I wanted that for her

even more than the beautiful moment

of two girls

laying in sunlight

laughing at imagined things

for the rest and peace and escape

of anything real

 

Between us both we made it whole

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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

Lantern girl

pexels-photo-980859I desire things I’m not allowed to have

like a ball of twine will wish to be perfectly recalled

nothing looks as new after it is worn

I carry the burrs, twigs and meal of my journey

the caterpillar hollows my tunnel

the firefly lights the way ahead

she told me, the way people smell is how she knows

whom to trust, whom to join, whom to discard

her feet are hennaed, her eyelashes thick like horse hair

when she looks at me, the moon is insignificant in contrast

these sighs ride on a warm wind to far-flung places

we follow as addicts of destination

there is nothing about here keeping us

aside ourselves and the anchor of habit

in novels the heroines grow older and more hesitant

to join eclipsing tide and sail away

you have never had such palsy

you are brimming with courage like

a stout drink of rum and your lips taste

of cane sugar and nectar and hot-house flowers

it is the wakening of ice over water

turning from a mirror back into ocean

we dive from volcanic rocks and the sun

casts her web around us in perfect seclusion

just then, the sound of the world cannot be heard

it is only the whisker of your hair against my arms

as I pull you closer

your smile is a lantern lighting doubt

your fingers are paint brushes altering my color

from blue to silver and indivisible

as damosels who love

their joy bound to convention

we live twice as hard

to make up for those never permitted

left to hear the roar of their heart

in the emptied hollow of a seashell

on a beach somewhere

where you walk

footprints leading me

into transparent water

Unable to speak the words

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Love can be the greatest feeling in the world

love can be a lie

and when love is a lie

it can rip you to shreds or enable you to rip yourself

because love isn’t quantifiable

therefore you may never know

who it is who guts you and slays you; Is it you? Is it love?

how can a feeling have the power to empty you of hope?

or leave you ransacked

how can an emotion

something that can’t be touched, or jarred or bottled

hold such sway?

cut with deep scythe, parts you thought impossible to reach

was it the other? Did they own the power

or was it giving them permission? To dictate an emotion

or is love, proof of being human

and the sorrow of that and the beauty of that

a very human trait, along with hate and indifference

which at times seem, to take the place of love

and when your eyes, look at me and there is no movement

only the wearing down of time, a series of frustrations

when you fidget and seem to want, to be anywhere but here

I imagine you in years to come, remembering nothing of us

then I wish I had no capacity for love, I wish I had pretended all along

replaced my heart with coal

but it was never an object, never something you could hold

love was almost a virus

you walked into the room

and I caught it

the fever and the aches

they may never leave me

now I have a relationship with them

in absence of you, I’ll find myself inheriting memories

wondering how, some people walk away, almost light-footed

and others stand in place and burn, the oxygen all gone

unable to speak the words

of loss

Balm

Just when you constructed your best notion of life yet

little occurences surprise, like rain on your neck

she is a woman of verdant verbena vitality

she lives in the tropics with the song of Finland

angels arrive, winging oceans

her voice wrapped in this time and others

lends a balm, sincere and lasting

like a fairy touching glass

turns dream to day

(For Raili. đź’“ ILU.)

Child of you


Passion

You may feel it in obvious ways

How he leans in with his enveloping strength

Or, in the thunder of your chest, riding imaginary horses with your best friend

Forgetful of arithmetic and teachers who felt you’d end your days in borstel, because you did like running rings around them didn’t you?

Regretting those petty rebellions later

Then in the crisp light and imagined stampede

You thrashed to the furthest point in your mind, bathed in fantasy

A place hard to reach, even splayed on cold Mexican tile, pretending your hand was his

Even, swimming underwater, until your lungs burned to surface

It was as if, once you grow up, the way back becomes harder

Like a secret language, only known to children, daunting you with tattered reminder

The tree house of your neighbor, as you take the prescribed walk, your cardiologist insisted upon

The first rain lillies urging through Texan soil against all odds, their impossible fragility, an exquisite reprieve from cracked earth

Have you gone so far child? As to forget the combination? Here where verbena and lemon grass pummel air with magic, here where you didn’t need anything 

But the cupping of your hands with wonderment, running through water like you were born again and again, emptied of harm, full of the vigor of not knowing, the beaten path to adulthood