On display

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I have my father’s feet

they are ugly I think

manly, wildebeest, sinew and bone

elongated toe as if saying

I am to be placed

deformed and bunion-esque

in shoes that will never fit

much like life, much like life

my father was considered a handsome man

many years women worked themselves into a hot

lather over his ways

perhaps it was a study in contrast

most men his age had already

mortal guts overhanging and could not

string a good sentence together

my father was verbose just as he was

shy and his hair was thick and hung

just so across his scarred brow

it seemed to galvanize the heterosexual piper call

women wanted or maybe they simply

didn’t want to have nothing and he

was nimble with his word play

indeed they forgave him for being

a redhead and if you think that is cruel

you’ve never known one or been one

they are the vilified among our kind

for their pallor and their color

an exotic relegated to rotten

less so in America

there is perhaps still

progression

yet my father, despite his flaming stamp

seemed to cut through the chaff

always though directed toward brunette, for a

blonde would be scared of the redhead

gene

and it is true they have begun to turn away

russet colored men from sperm banks

so my father had a chip on his shoulder

for being red when his father was

dark and swarthy

how then the man who is neither?

I inherited the pallor but not the color

nor the freckles I have some

of my mother in me though

she would say not

now I see it more and more

as she is less and less

snipping me out like

a bad paper doll who has

transgressed

I miss her even in preparation

for our dissolution

we are quite similar

and just as different

but when I see her eyes in

the mirror I ask

wasn’t I worth trying for?

It is futile to query

the reasons for disinterest

when studying psychology I learned

as only children never understand

the myriad ways we misinterpret

ten people in a room who all see

a different thing

perception then, is a liar and a clown

we should stick to loyalty

but that has fallen out of vogue

I thought being pale I would

age better than my contemporaries

who tanned themselves into oblivion

how I envied their brown

it’s enough to drive you crazy

wanting what you are never

but I am ageing faster

maybe it’s the mercury in my blood

or the grief I don’t seem to be able

to set aside

perhaps I have forgotten what it is like

to be cherished or how to dream

I do not know

but I dyed my hair when the grey came

taunting with its white brush as if to say

here you go, have a sprinkling

you’ve earned it

now my body begins the fiendish process

of cutting off

its estrogen and skin

starts to dull and lose its shine

almost enough to wish for

the discontented pale girl once

lucky I have no lover to

impress

for there is nothing

to brag in my loss of elastic

and sad dumpy thighs

they say you

do not need to have children

to sag

and I can attest

to no live birth

and much gravity

what was once popular in youth

the cleavage

the early fruit

becomes an enemy to

the middle-aged

am I that already? I seem

still to feel like the dancer on stage

earning her moves

taking love between her chest bone

squeezing it of juice

I visited my old studio when I went ‘home’

saw young girls with

long necks and flat chests

I wanted to be them

and also I did not

for it would be tiring to

start over again

with all the expectations and all the demands

there is something

still and good about

less

but I may have taken it to an extreme

with the quiet of my life

the emptiness of my eyes

if you see me

forgetful and slow

and then to dance

in a fleeting moment

you will understand

it is not easy to accept change

when you have not yet had your time

but forgive me my ugly feet

and look into my eyes

that is where I can still be found

searching for you

among the debris

and the loose ribbons

we kept so perfect

pinned tightly

on display

 

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Ripe fruit

The body

Is a soft pomegranate

Shiny seeds spilling out

Soft offering proffers

Sell by date

Arbitrary or fated circles within circles

Once, you bled

The same crimson as a dress you wore to fireworks night

Until invisible hands

Ushered away the urge to bring

Life wriggling on flat earth

Straining you heard

A primal cry

It was you

Half covered with sweat

Shaking off

The emptiness of the day

Your belly full

Of hours

In the heat of the night

they told her

hot-flashes are bad

she couldn’t see how

feeling hot was an infuriation

she was always cold

when the first hot flash came

unbidden and sudden

like a white burning sword

the night she had sinned

by eating a little pizza

she believed at first it was retribution

for her transgression or

the heat of the night

but even the cicadas didn’t agree

the night was balmy and smooth

not on fire

and she

before her time

being too young

osteoporosis and heart disease a danger

for the youthful who inherit menopause early

the bed drenched

her arms feeling like wires of fire

inhabited them

throat sore and dry, wild eyed

she paced the cool floor

shaking and changing

hot to cold

this is too soon

her calcium levels complained

this is too early

her rapid heart beat whispered

not yet, surely not yet

the elasticity in her breasts and neck prayed

we do not

we are not

ready

for rapid ageing

she had noticed

the parchment quality of her hands

dried up like no rain had touched the sand

she had noticed her lack of desire and anxious thrum

thinking it was life

doing its worst as usual

when you experience what you read about

it’s always different in person

now it was her turn

to look back on a life

not yet nearly finished

as if she were further down

the endless conveyer belt already

skip love, marriage, pregnancy, first child

first lost tooth, baby puke

go straight to crone-hood

she told herself

this doesn’t mean your hair will thin

this doens’t mean your genitals will dim

this doesn’t mean your breasts will plunge

this doesn’t mean your waist will swell

this doesn’t mean you’ll never sleep well

this doesn’t mean you’ll catch fire

walking past sulpher

but deep down she knew

yes this is the precipise of all those things

wish I had a robust career to make up for

losing too soon

the other boons of life

wish I had a child in my arms

to comfort me when

I feel it’s over already before I found motherhood

this is the torch of an end

maybe a beginning but

of what?

she didn’t know

anymore than realizing

how a hot flash is not just two words

easily dismissed

but a raging foaming sea of fire

she stood

in the quiet bedroom

burning mute

a novel odd feeling for one

accustomed to saying

please turn down the air conditioning I’m frozen!

she had an sudden desire

to stand beneath a huge fan

to dive into ice

to peal off her skin

and in so doing lose

the disapointment of this too soon

I’m not ready

who is?

who is ready to say goodbye

to hopeful youth and dreams?

and they who are older than her

will say tomorrow when she confides

her bad luck

oh it’s not forever and

there’s a lot to look forward to

yes

she knows that

and still

there is a girl behind her

the shell from whom she has molted

a crysalis girl

dried out and sillouetted

against the fire

she is sad that she is not

still waiting for the moment

she will inherit herself

and must instead find a way to quench

this new

and terrible

desire

for

ice

with

her morning

coffee

Greater solace

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There you are

picture yourself

standing in a vacated room

the walls are nondescript

from the window comes a little wan sun

hardly enough for warmth

you pull yourself closer

recalling how as a child

sitting on old iron radiators in winter

they’d say you’d develop hemorrhoids

in those days

the sound of scuffed shoes running for class bell

figuring you had a few moments yet

to stare out at brick and cement

stretch out reverie

a voice inside your head

surely this isn’t all there is?

you made a pact with yourself

to get the hell out

whatever it took

gathering your books

mindful of their ticket

you forgot yourself in dream

walking past the classroom

after all

learning is better in the mind

than grind of chalk on board

some boy kicking you in the back

with sweaty socks

you knew even then

this was but a stepping stone

though if asked you couldn’t say

what of the grim facade urged you most

to escape

 

and now

all these years later

more alone than that day

when covered by childhoods vigor

and the smell of something better

just around the corner

hope has been sore in her visits

silence too often your friend

as we fall one by one out of the egg carton

we are without wings

without safety harnesses

all the others found places

in busy lives, babies, families, jobs

the weave and knot of life

whilst you stood watching out of the window

glimmering

expecting to fly

 

now in shallow rooms

artifice has left her scent

they tell you the last one has passed over

you feel it in the curve of your chest

no more hands to scoop you back

from your leaning motion to find

somewhere to breathe

where trees are ever green

sunlight full on face

obscuring all trace of bleak homes

terraced and hollow

where you can hear the flush of

neighbors loud toilet

piercing cry of another

born into fitful times

where you never understood

your own role

just the fallacy of drowning sorrows

sundays in the bar

knocking back glasses of regret

nothing could spur you faster

toward wide open space where

no trace of sorrowful city remained

 

and wherever you go

there you are

still back against the wall

still with the locked door

school girl tights bunched in your mouth

hearing muffled voices

discussing your inability to speak

how long can you hold your tongue girl?

before the need to scream

unfurled

and in one howl you swallow yourself

all the disappointment

all the lost chances

breaking through cloud

fast diminishing in oboe sky

open the storeroom of your mind

clear out those long stored hurts

preserved in obscura

 

you may feel you have nothing

but in the sundering fall of flight

we find again our urge

never to quite escape

perhaps more a reinterpretation

carrying on no more alone than before

for we are born crying in singular pitch

in each step grow further to our end

it is in the humility of knowing this

we find our greater

solace

Beyond the quarter hour

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The Indigo Girls did not know

who Joan Baez was

a loam cried out

as first frost silenced the land

likening dawn

etched empty branches

she sang with an old voice

much used

like firewood

is best when properly dried

her voice was a voice of a woman

who had walked many years unseen

for after a certain age they say

women become invisible

she decided this was a wonderful way

her wings could remain outstretched

and not hidden as before

when she was sculpted and honed

like a cold statue

men would seek to touch

now her magic felt like a velvet glove

able to touch the mist and curling into a fist

summon spirits to her world

beyond the quarter-hour

no more obliged to purse

for onlooker