Forever

The day had begun before I opened my eyes. Dawn was spread thin out of darkness, running in lines of glimmering color like firebranded children, their woolen fingers gingerly clutching sparklers.

Cold floor, warm sheets, where I lay curled unconscious to the emptiness of waking. Waking without you there, to murmur and move naturally, as if in-utero against me, filling me with wholeness.

Often it is said, we should learn to subsist alone. Need less, want less. Others can only risk hurting us in the long run, be it through death, loss, departure, choice.

I chose you despite this. I chose to make that hurdle from the crumbling edge of the river bank to the other side, thinking it impossible. Still I jumped, sailing through the air, seeing my legs missing my mark, reaching further, beyond what was possible. Catching the other side in my fingertips and pulling up, out of failure.

They all said, all those who become ‘they,’ the disapproving, the know-it-alls, the omnipotence, they all said, you shouldn’t take the risk.

It was a bare insult. They all done it, and survived, but the rules were different when it came to me. It was as if I were a child, a child incapable of her own making, bound to their divinity board, with the scalpel sharp against my pieces.

For all who were ‘they’ it was clear, ‘they’ didn’t know me. I was never a child who listened well enough, I was too high up in the tree limbs to hear when they scolded and found my mud stained shoes thrown off.

For the girl with different rules, without rule, there was only the instinct followed by the outcome. I leapt across and I watched myself, clear the jump and claim you. Inspite of it all.

Now you are gone, and I can fit into their net of told-you-so’s at long last. I am the emptied woman. The one who sleeps until the very last moment in a vain attempt to quench consciousness.

You will not return. It is not your way to change your mind. As it was not my way to alter my trajectory, coming like a star out of darkness, pinned on you.

What a fool, they will say. What a mistake, they will cluck. And I will spin my hair into clouds and ruise, above the words, the noise.

I am reminded of the saying, better to have tried than not at all. It doesn’t apply in this world I live. It does apply to me because I only know how to try, not how to win.

I am not a good American girl. I stood in the sidelines, I did not have the competition burning in my throat. I did not want to cheer.

But I am a good American traveler. At night I reach as far as my celestial body will carry me, into the caves of others, searching for you.

Yes I have not given up. I know you will be there eventually and I will witness it. The moment you discover, I didn’t stop looking.

When two lie so close the heartbeat of one becomes the other and beneath them both stirs, a symphony, how can they separate?

Do you think death will have the claim to take you far away and never again let me beside you? This is false. I am stronger than death. I have love.

You may be cold now, you may be afraid, but I am on my way, I will travel no matter the cost, it will take time, but I will find you.

The growing chronicles #2 The broken glass


You had sat in the window ledge

of everywhere I lived over the years

light pouring through your

green glass making familiar

new destinations with known

you came all the way from Italy

when I saw the world through your colors

I saw the world differently shining into rooms

 

It had come down to this

either you or I

would break

you gave me preview

as fate will a look inside

what will happen, the night before

when you wobbled and nearly

tipped from your place

a warning

next time I will not be so fortunate

 

and I

chose to ignore

the peril

knowing

if not you

it would be myself

breaking into pieces

all over the floor leaving

shards of color ground to dust

through which another

world could exist

 

I swept you up

fat tears dropping

magnifying with saline

my apology

that it had to be

your sacrifice

not my courage

to beseech the spectacle of existing

and save another day

I may then

shatter with you

For Paul

016_imogen-cunningham_theredlistIn the other place of keeping

afterward when door is softly closed

and light extinguished

where flowers bloom without need of sun

perfuming air with unseen stamen

at last you are unburdened, free of torment

we sit at oiled wood table

eating buttered toast with fingertips

you tell me of  real things

that time you fell into a river as

you reached for tires swinging overhead

just one more inch and you’d have been saved

from submerging with oily fish

and yet you say, it taught you

the value of sinking and how quiet

beneath the world can be

where creatures with opaque eyes glide past

watching you try to breathe

they called it a near drowning

you claimed second-sight

we shuffle our checkers, mindful

it’s your turn to win tonight

 

for Paul

you were a brother of sorts

sprinting ahead of jostling crowd

lean and bronzed by effort

your heart a flutter of machination

once you said, now I am old

and I laughed and reminded you

there’s so much time left

except you knew

and I did not

time can collapse upon itself

just as it begins so it can end

all the days we spent waiting for the next

better to live now and climb

that tree to sling rope and dangle seat

children long after us

will come to the river and watch

each others fear and then wonder

jumping into the void

and as you are gone

I clear away the plates and ready for the next day

not sure it will be free of rain

I hear you outside among the trees

you are laughing at me

for my fear of things I cannot know

remember, you say, it’s not about control

it’s about having the courage to try

I watch you walk toward the river

you are straight and lean again

no scars, no pain cross your way

I want to go with you but you have told me

it is not yet time

we’ll play again, be patient

master this moment

live now in the warm rush of water

watching overhead

moving clouds turning from blue to white

and then to grey

 

For Paul. You counted, and you mattered.

 

Fond of ghosts

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I am thankful

that I am not

you

you are what I could not be and partly remain

If I hadn’t fled and turned my back to

the inevitable crush of destiny, spinning on roulette table

the soft nape of cloth worn by dice

 

For years I regretted leaving myself behind

and those few memories not slicing

at my veins

but your life

engenders mindfulness

and I am

so relieved

 

This feels good

the city of our frying was so hungry

It wanted to devour youth

to sake itself on the fervor of the anointed needy

how anyone has the endurance?

how you do?

I have no idea

 

As I scaled my escape with trapeze skin shoes

the Harlequin came back from her exile in the countryside

the sequined one didn’t see how the city ate us up in little spoonful

she whose cheeks were red with fresh air, wanted so badly to return, throw her hunger at the crowd in fistfuls

and that’s why we crossed wires, finally hanging-up our respective ends

 

But you

puzzle me like the last page of a much creased book

I relate to your merciless sober tilt

a shared connection that runs the length of our separation

how the rest of your life will bid

how

you are when we’re not talking

how the world sounds through your ears or looks through your eyes

 

I feel you must have

chains

on

your

wrists

you must be a new

in a large loud give

and that frightens me more than it should

considering once

I almost walked in the same buckled shoes

 

What made you stay?

and I leave?

what helps you imprint this life and nourishes the void I feel

imagining I had never left and still to turn the page

such terrors seem to separate us

beyond what could reconnect

proof perhaps

of the strength of the heart

to defy

logic

and

grow fond of

ghosts

She said to me this is why

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She said to me, this is why

you start the ignition and drive

never far enough

the feeling of mud stuck in your wheels

when you find you’ve been stopped

a god-awfully long time at crossroads

watching emptiness

hypnotized by blink in and out of hooded light

amber in raptured darkness

a welcome, a warning, a half-moon or pecked ball of cheese

the days you used to eat diary and wear

push-up bras and frilly skirts with Wellington’s

climb the clouds

invest in heavy coats and lace up boots, the end of the world is nigh

where did your combat go?

as you sat watching life blink and slow

what year, what day? what hour ceased your climb?

did you know? Or was it something stealthy and unobserved?

crawling up your corseted will and into your slack mouth

waiting to be re-charged

finding power in the notion

nobody’s listening

 

other cars go past

some race, some idle, there are sunday drivers and seekers

church goers, drive-in’s, back-seaters

there are race-cars and old vintage trucks with their bellies full of stories

home paint jobs and clean-cut straight from the shop

the latter go to the Wash Tub nearly every week to ensure

their interiors are spotless

and you? Are your insides up to par? inspection? White glove test?

how much dust and debris have you collected and stored beneath your wings?

now coiled in retreat like parts of an engine without spark

do your chairs sag from too much sitting?

has your key grown rust and your feet lost their motion?

as you lull yourself with colors against soaping dark

go, consider, stop, go, consider, stop, go, consider, stop

you idled

engine running a purr into long painted lines

thin women without succor holding their empty bellies up against moonlight

did you consider?

this is your only time

no more is left after the bowl is licked and scraped and washed

set to dry and be re-used by someone with more gumption

in their sunday shoes

 

when did you remove the will, the effort, the urge

replacing it as you would a hub cap with something less polished

so you would not be noticed, fall in with leaves collected in plastic bags

collected at curb side

 

would you recognize

your own self ten years ago?

arms filled with bangles of silver

hair braided to kink and denote

fire in your belly, longing in your chest

here is the shimmer of the undimmed

climbing trees in their favorite

church dress getting branches in their hair

 

you and I ate cherries and plums

the sweet from the marrow of Jamaican sugar cane

baked by a fitful city left to burgeon

music from a dozen sources, the resin and hum

you hennaed my fingers and I shared my belief

this moment could be stretched to eternity

lying with my head in your patchouli lap

feeling the move and sway of need in us both

to uncover the secret

to living

 

then you were gone

I mended myself imperfectly

with mincemeat and old Christmas crackers

that had not struck their gun powder

nor cracked in explosive alchemy of two people pulling from either end

a wish bone sucked clean

what do you wish for?

I wished for a map

draw my direction in red

like the tongue of your hair caught under spotlight

I learned to drive

you learned to walk

with each determining we split, like dried corn will

after being soaked and then left to burn

 

lights blink

lost and found

a mitten on tarmac

a bag of garbage

one lens from a pair of glasses

adverb and pronoun

we each saw correction differently

you still dance

when the brass band strikes a tune

you merge into the crowd

lifting your arms above your head

my silver still slipping on your wrists

your disapproval branding

the center of my forehead

you sold out” you mouth

losing your way deliberately

you thought by cutting the string, tying it to a tree in a wood, you’d forget where you came from

all you did was create another way to suffer all your own

you were once part of a tribe

daubed in blue and saffron women of islands and sea skirmish

fearing nothing but rocks, jagged and monstrous

and even as we hesitated

we urged ourselves forward

now you sit

idling in a warm car on a tepid night with windows down

listening to a station play unfamiliar discordant tunes

and the headlights of other cars

passing you by on the outside lane

are the faces of those you gave away

when you emigrated in reduction

like the sauce of ourselves

left too long on the high flame

will burn and stick

unable to be

poured

Repetition

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I am so thirsty I could drink the sea

and make of leftover salt a tower of Babel

resting like a dove tail wand in white dunes

where any emotion is read immediately

as a blush on landscape otherwise mute

so when your cheeks turn red and you tilt

your head away from me hot faced

I want to fill the sky with released birds

gathering in blue to lift you back

do not stray long in your daydream

where, closed off in thought you could

be climbing mountains not really here at all

we motion and hymn

our circadian rhythms plaiting

time together and apart

once I knew you as my familiar

we daubed each other with mirrored pieces

with change came a drift

building beneath sand filled doorways

harder to open

you took flight and I

stared up into marbled sky

almost blind by solvent light

until you were a pin prick

of silver glinting against

my squint

like an ache within

will pierce and

sting

with fearless

repetition

 

 

Stillborn

thFrom Germany to Australia your parents fled

the brush of taint

your mother a beauty

your father with only enough room in his heart

for singular devotion

when she died, cut down by trolley car in front of you

aged six, catching the splatter of her broken skull

he took you into his bed to make up for her absence

you grew wan on divulgence of sin

til neighbors found out and your doors were broken

three men in uniform standing around the bed

get out they said

the smear of their inferred condemnation thick in your ears

like river mud swallowing you up among grubs and slugs

who blames a child for her abuse?

those who know nothing of truth, shining their finery with glass

you walked the line all the way to a foster home with metal teeth

thrown out at 17 for falling in love and shaming their Baptist ideals

as you and he prepared to marry he rode his bike in the night to pick up

his mother’s narrow ring

skidding on freak ice on the way back his head caved in like an exploding star

you stood at the altar alone waiting

impatient clock showing

he will not attend

afterward with nothing, there was no reason to stay

someone said like they do before you pass 20

let’s go to India

so you packed up your emptiness, put your leather sandals on

high in the Himalayas you caught the fever and nuns with tight wrapped mouths

whirled with lines and decay

nursed you as you slipped in and out of consciousness

liquid and sorrow pouring from you in bucket loads

a miracle! they announced when clawed your way back

what did you have to live for? being the whispered irony

and there, in the desolation of knowing nothing you walked

kept on walking until your feet blistered and your soul took flight

in the low hanging mangrove trees

where at night the shadows looked like an epiphany and you decided

I will return to my native land, the one of my ancestors

you wrote a distant aunt, she replied; come to the black forest we have

mud that will cleanse you of your sorrow and broad-shouldered men

Germany with its fairy tale castles and starched people rolling their own

you clambered over your wreckage, beginning again as only the young can

a flutist falling in love with your dark eyes and shiny thick Germanic hair

a marriage led to loneliness, he toured, you waited, touching his absence

with lightest fingertip

until it seemed being without him, would fill you more than staying put

traveling to Greece alone, you burned and burned and burned

turning yourself into oak

a waiter slept in your bed and kept you cool

against the battering murmur of sea tapping at french windows

life grew inside of you

when you took your first real job in London’s garish metropolis

heaving with anticipation and empty suitcases of hope

your daughter gave you the first peace you ever knew

a perfect child with a little mouth and large eyes

your Greek baby she lay in the curve of your hips smiling

and you breathed, deeply, and slow

like a long traveled bird finds purchase and easement

on empty shore

she, with her little tiny fingers and little feet

died of crib death just as

a match can be blown out never to

be re-lit

feeling like she hadn’t existed and she couldn’t be gone

here was your second decade of sorrow

etched between your fine eyes and deep clavicle

WHY? was not a word you used

absent of all

living only because your chest deemed it necessary to rise and fall

in time to your still-born ache framed

in reluctant silver requiring continual polish

you wanted to hurl yourself out of existence

yet you flourished as if life had said

we have taken and now we nourish

you grew successful, wealthy, every night you tucked yourself up

alone in a singletons bed

until the smell of the sea on the shores of Australia called you

it’s been eighteen years and it’s time

to come home

passing over Sydney Opera House you saw

the curve of sky and water meet

something within you released

he seemed to be waiting in the first corner you turned

as if always there, just ready to reveal

his promise to stay

with time they say pain subsides

which you know isn’t quite true

though love can keep together broken halves

by its stubborn hold on people who

would otherwise fracture and become

light on water skimming surface

it was not fair,  it was not right

now you are back in your homeland where

you began and will draw to a close

I hope

with the knowledge that even lives

built on pyres can hold

depths we release like night birds

flying unseen

overhead