Coming up for air

Coming-Up-For-Air-1-Alice-Wigley_2500When the moving vans took away a life

bundling it in storage, turning out fly swabbed light

when the house stood empty and of us, nothing remained

her death seemed to have resisted claim

yet she was no more there than mouse who leaves behind footprint and soft down of hair, gone beyond the floorboards

her family cleared out and dusted her remains, placed away in a china cabinet for someone

many years from now to produce a much touched pawn ticket, and re-varnish

she wondered

would they thrive without her?

in time, will her children recall the best of her?

or those days she stood tired and grumpy, keeping warm by the oven avoiding world’s bidding and invite

it was her shame

to waste so much time

if she had known she would have stepped from waxen kitchen like fire bird, gathered them in her arms and driven to the coast

to watch the rise and fall of life crashing on wave

and smell the turn of life, brimming with wet salt

she would have seen within her the burgeoning canker and cast it like a bottle of cobalt blue

out into the surrendering molt of waves, hoping it would lose itself and not return to erase her, premature and cruel

a reminder we are visitors

to this shore

not long in our stay

often missing our purpose, locked away in effort and grind, mowing lawns, picking up, wiping down, staring out into the immaculate disorder

she would have said to her children, take your shoes off, wriggle your toes in, feel the sand, the undone clasp, the undone movement

into life and laughter and sorrow, creating lines of wonder on our cheeks, run and run until your bird chest burns

scream into the sound

cover yourself with sun and never

ever

come up for air

 

poetry by Candice Daquin, first published on Hijacked Amygdala

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Kissing phantoms

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I saved an eyelash of yours

grew it from seed in a

blue-bottle

at first the greenhouse huffed and curdled

not used to cultivating such delicate wings

till I put you beneath my mattress

soggy with tears morning dew

you see, I had become

a cocoon again

needing no more than

one drop of rain on my

sewn together eyelids

scalded from rubbing

you see, I had thrifted

the parts of me that had

touched you the most

so I did not have to be reminded

why my hands stayed trembling

on countertops or reached

at night into marjoram dark

why my lips were chaffed and sore

from kissing phantoms

better then, to return to wax

bury the hatchet

and ones history

in somnolent earth

smelling of tea bags and bird feathers

ear wigs and lady bird nail polish

your smile

caught winking through amber sun

your convex toes

wriggling at the end of bed sheets

like crocus pushing up

the paving stones of my new city

it will speak a different language

contain no source for tears

no receptacle for self-harm

the last newspaper says

she left to parts unknown

wide indigo wings catching

cusp of moon as

clouds colored by grief’s insistence

curdle against wan light

mist abounding like a girl

carrying her skirts through water

involuntary sound of loss despite

washing your hands repeatedly

smoothing down the shards of

wakefulness

something grows silently

in you and cannot

be reborn

Except smell

I did not speak your language

until I learned in the dust of play

communicating with shapes and funny faces

then I understood more until

giving away who I was 

I embraced your world

step by step accents relent

we pawn our histories

to fit in better like the crayon

is never quite the right hue

coughing scarlet consumptive 

we want to be unseen unnoticed

to fly at night when all are sleeping

do not point us out in a crowd

or remind us of who we once were

the immigration of battleworn hearts

denies who we were before we marooned ourselves

in other tongues, other culture

they say you never forget your childhood

what do they know? sitting in the same

room as when they were knee high

the truth is you forget almost anything

except smell

and when you come to hold me close

you ask me why do you cry?

and the cumin of your hair is

something I can never explain

except with hands making

feelings out of air