The look in their eyes

Walking around, you don’t even need to convince yourself you’re all right

such is the layer upon layer, you don’t even see, until it creeps up and then

blocking out the sun, darkness invades sight and everything is at once, changed.

I am standing beneath awning, the sun is nearly out, it’s a windy day and the chimes in the back garden keep a steady sound

as I have always been, I am attached but not part of, another dynamic, a family with their own ways of doing things

I bend to learn and listen, I smile when expected, at times I think I feel comfortable with my toes dipped in

he has sorrow etched on his face though he is still young, his eyes betray him and a slight quiver in his mouth when

she clearly doesn’t care

I want to ask her, what happened to cause the rift, but everything is fragile and tenuous as if we are tiptoeing around

a sleeping giant

since childhood I learned to pick up on what to avoid and what to leave untouched, the manners of an outsider

accutely atuned to other people’s needs and emotions

not quite an empath, I can tell when they need time alone, if I should make myself scarce

and all at once I recall, aged eight or so, doing just the same, sitting on a cold flight of stairs for many hours

picking at my shoe laces, tying and untying them, making stories with crumbs and the wrinkles in my joints

hearing their argument echo through the thin door

I am good at placating, massaging egos, staying invisible when necessary and picking up the pieces afterward

her eyes are flashing, she puts on a pair of high heals and I can tell what she is thinking though she would never say

she wants to run and pack a bag and leave and find someone else, anyone else

and his need is as palpable as paint vapor, she is strangled by it and her own indifference

I want to ask; You loved each other once, where did it start to fall apart?

do you think they’d even remember now? Unlikely. Too many years building walls

to keep each other out, they forget in their effort, the beginning of them and how

happy they looked in that photo.

I want to tell her, you have everything you need here, I can see it in his movement, it is as if he acts out the ache he feels

I want to tell him, if it’s going to be this way forever, pack a bag, leave before your heart turns to dust

I want to save them and mend them, and make it right

for the sake of the child whose toys we pick up and put neatly away, as if that

will save anything, or stop him from one day remembering

the look in their eyes

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Alzheimer

The solace of your heart

is not always enough

he said

standing on the pier

touching his left hand

when the wind blows, it feels like a ghost

with breath tinged by salt

your grey eyes still sad

down turned in strain

mosaic of worry, we didn’t anticipate

losing the stretch of land, leading to sea

its hypnotic pull, tearing you gradually from me

your face a shroud of former memory

the words we clung onto

destroyed by encroaching incomprehension.

Once, when we were young

lying beneath a fan in hot climate

you turned in profile

I wish I had learned more languages, you said

I smiled and said yes, in Italian, French, Russian

now I would give that day and others

for you to understand one

and from the sea mist rejoin me, as I stand alone.

The sun left a mark, never removed

on my finger where we promised

til death

though you’ve been gone, long before you breathed last

our sorrow was an empty room

with a man sketching patterns on the floor

in lue of all we were before

his name I forget.

Ode to absentia

I have written enough about you to fill a slim volume

or maybe two ships

set sail for one of the countries you visit

sending me letters in the day, with marks and fingerprints from all around the world

they would smell

like you, even as that was impossible

and I prepared, as nobody ever can

for the day I would lose you

why not, you ask, appreciate the now, when you are here on earth?

I have, though, we have never spent our lives together or even entwined

I have been saying goodbye all these years

yet it will not be sufficient, it could never be enough

you are more of me, than myself

and I feel you inside even though you are not here now, and gone in the future

loving you has felt like continual loss and little gain

yet I do, more than anything else, for you are that kite, unmoored itself and got away

the thought that comes creeping up as you laugh, as if I had a twin, and yes, she was the one who grew in courage, living full in ways I knew only from books

you have the lifeline of twenty palms and though you could not be a mother, you have always inspired me, like the character from a favorite story

reaching near and never touching, someone marvelous and unable to approach

I live sometimes with my eyes seeing through yours

the waves of your life nearing but never reaching, shore

at some point there will be a day when you are not simply absent and not around the corner

but further then, impossible to mend, hands of time, spent longing

it may be my song to want and not receive, the beauty that is you, and your life as it cleaves

further away, until from a great distance I cannot distinquish, squinting until my eyes hurt and run

I would if I could, but I never have, and I won’t

it is the theatre of our lives to play out

my role is that of thirsty

yours to make ordinary seem

extrodinary

you are the giver of dreams

I shall always wish

for one more day where I see

your figure coming closer through the dusk

perhaps to stay a while, even if we do not touch

I long, in layers, not to lose, what I have, not.

A glimmering girl of movement

images

Things are not always what they seem

I came from negative photography so I believed, beauty came from broken wings

She’s is a muted goddess but she feels she is muddied totem and godless

Running on raw feet to keep the fear at bay, she is Zola Bud without a flag

A thin line of angularity, stretching on tarmac into distance with her naked courage

She says, damn it, don’t put me on a pedestal

I want to tell her; it’s just believing in you, but she’s like me in that regard

Children brought up on curses, never believe velvet coated words

They’re drawn to the familiar caustic lack of praise, boiled with the bones of shaven headed ancestors

She feels safe in critical people’s iron gaze, mulling over flaws like antique appraiser

And if I could I would, redo her start, give her warmth and security, raise her up and place, the sunlight in her eyes

A golden trophy for my cousin, who runs at dawn to hide her cries, one long limbed stride into furious future

And as she runs she hears the chime of those who believe in her, even as she can only concentrate, on feeling motion tuning its drum

There in her deep heart, thrumming to keep going, against weather’s worst, she defies expectation, a glimmering girl of movement

 

FOR MY BEAUTIFUL COUSIN. I LOVE YOU.

The others heartbeat

Make as you will

A figure from paper

Layer each breath

Run glue until it shines

Keep all strength in

Let no part be feeble

Save us in our design

Fortify the bow, the stern and sides

Carve meaning in ancient symbol

Burn black, secret incantation

Deeper than dermis

Throw stones to guide direction

Light fires on shoreline and

Whisper to your proud, paper children

That your heart goes with them

As setting sail

Receeding into

Marmelade sun

You feel the undoing of the papier maiche ambelical chord

Ivory notes forming beneath weight of ocean

If they could speak

An ache as long and needed, turning flute to mother’s cry

Marveling that she survive

When separate, she and her child 

Like dancers at opposite stage end

Feel through the soles of their feet

The others heartbeat

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