Back to life

What is this place that one returns to?

for some, possible, easy even

to put aside a person, shelve them with other memories

like a box of postcards growing yellow

whilst I was always the girl who climbing on top of boxes

found the postcards and brought them down

splayed like restless tarot on my lap

try to fathom, walk back into time

absent people, love letters sent to

girlfriends now married, unrecognizable

childish handwriting, burst of emotion scored in yesterday’s colors

I have always liked stories and wanted

to read the secret histories of those

who would not share them with me

so your letters I had to put

in a green river one by one

for fear if they were not wet and destroyed

I’d read over and over til you came back to life

finding myself

running lonely highway to your home

knocking on your still familiar door expecting to see

your living breathing face, cheeks infused with color

smiling in that way only you did

when I stood before you.

When someone has died

they steal air from the room

leaving behind closed windows

rattling against wind and chill

you have to go in with heavy shoes

make noise, shake cold from your bones

open them wide until pure sunlight

blinds primal darkness

I recall

how your hair looked when

sun stroked it in streams of light

how unbroken perfection of your skin

resembled fruit, summer time and children

lolling about in gardens upsidedown, tongue out

though you were older, I always felt

protective in that way I imagine a parent may

reaching for their child, smelling joy and motion

of their life laid out ahead in patient sillouette

I have always been remote and stood away

from frilled crowd with hidden daggers

content to observe and only participate

in flung arms of dancing and those raw easy things

not requiring sustained inspection

it takes a lot for me to wish

to share myself with another

to open up those parts of me, I struggle to reconcile.

unceasing criticism can close off even the thirsty traveler desperate

to sit by warming fire and stoke shadows to divination.

With you, we were two unsupervised kids

sitting on the dusty floor of my attic

opening boxes of memories with fearless hands

we talked without fear, then as

day began to show her pink slip in sky

I’d take your slim arm and lead you

into my bed where

light enveloped our heads like halos and we tasted the rapture of undisturbed acceptance

see in the eyes of one born of me

part of you

our mingled DNA taking lilac wing

in the electricity of love making

I could smell you on me afterward

and loathe to bathe

stayed writing by the window

watching you cycle away

the strong muscles in your skinny legs peddling like

knock-kneed urchin

turning the corner

always leaving

the circumfrance of you behind

radiating on the road

like a mirage

and in my hair and on my body

a ghost or whisper of

someone absent and close

if I could have kept you safe

or stopped time

but the heart is a closing flower

once damaged she ushers her dancers

fold into velvet, trap the dream

we were strangers, then siblings

of sorrow and laughter

like night and day play

on the fringe of their fading

your dusky skin against my pale

never enough time

to say what I wanted to say

in language untranslatable

to mortal minds

we existed as pollen

carried on high wind will

strike new life into that which sleeps

drousy and given over to liquid day

and I have never returned to that place

without a throat full of pain

wanting to call your name

hear your return

the indent of your existence

anything but

silence

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Absolution

tumblr_n7uflxumP11qanheao1_1280I don’t know if there’s hope

When friend turns foe

I don’t know

Where in separation

Yoke and embryo

Glistening placenta gouache

The painter may

Render this potential life

Legacy of strife

In verdant whisker

I could have been born

Elsewhere

Or not

Chemistry

Cellular change

Alchemists with tears as

Coat of arms

We consume tangerines

The smell of orange rind

And cloves

Seasonal with moth holes

Moses climbs from his wicker man

Escaping the fire

And disbelieved share

Their bronze debacle

Lend me the mahogany deep of your voice

Bringing me back

From kimono exile

Remember

I have no power

But the truth

Of nude vanquish

Attributed to

Low lamps, proffered incense

Summoning believers

In thin macintosh bones

We are rubric

To gardens

In the rain

Bird baths for those

Needful of absolution

No words

For all our words

We say nothing

In the blue of dusk

My hair catching light

In combed moments

A rise and fall

The thimble of surround heartbeat

Toes pointing

Dancing in stillness

Somewhere there is music

Like cream

Slowly spreading

On cold tile

While those of the house

Lift their skirts

Climb on mattresses
Held aloft

Sinking into softness

Arms over arms

Swaying

Closed eyes

Brief dizziness

The nip of proximity

Your mouth on mine

Furthering

No words

And how

Hear how the fox festoons dusk

With larkish bark the color of a young girls best pitch

And how

Bathed in sweat I consider mortalities strange lyre

The photos of parts of me transposed and caught in time

Nothing is real and all is magnified by the mind

As she weaves her dream about our smoky heads

Tiptoeing over slate roof tops like ballerina forced to cat burgle

In this sliver of reality I choose

To disguard any mantle of victimhood

In imperfect slices of myself I have survived

Nothing will tear me down, save the last licorice root before tree fall

I have played acquiescences tuneless keys long enough

This is what growing up feels like at any age

The acceptance, not all is well or right yet

If I look, I know my worth

I’ll not give it away to appease those who seek

Through their own brokenness, to strip me of waterproofing

Time is too drunk on her singularity

She is in the bare knotted tree branches

Bowing together in subjugate to winter’s breath

Fat cheeked children licking plum juice from woolen fingers

And though separate, we are in conversation from

The very moment of our meeting

I am talking to you and listening close

As river water hides stoop of cold

Dashing its relentless self across us all

Bound and sheltering

From chill? From ourselves? The secrets behind our eyes or

Those said things unwrapped and steaming on kitchen table

The fire changing light to ghosts

I hear three generations

The reflection of another casting

My own breakage

Gathered with bright leaves in sacks of deposed

Being told fear is a disease we let enter

Turn it out, rent out those rooms you no longer inhabit

Turning as I have, to you

The shining of your throat covered in words

I’ll not let loose

Waiting for you

At hungry waters edge

In any country in the world

In any language

You run ahead

Turning back

The half moon of your face

Drawing light

An infusion

Aching

And the unseen fox

I imagine her as you

Bold wordless vibrance

Full tail, muscular legs

The twitch of beauty

Stark against tarmac

Owning darkness

The savage rent

don’t put up the tree this year

because in different directions

festivity trickles, a sloe-gin reminder

of loss

wintered in the dyed hair of visitors

who pinch our cheeks and proclaim

you are healed

when we know

such things rarely occur

the savage rent may

gloss over with skin

a scar as smooth as ice

can cut despite its fragility

they hand out mince pies

to carol singers who stamp

their booted feet in earnest

whilst we have no need of lights

winking and ushering

memories best left unwrapped

she has gone on with herself

a banchee howling her moon song

like a new chapter in an old book

the leather worn and much used

but still the characters implore

one more story grandma

and I am mending old clothes

to fit around my leaching soul

as ice turns back to water and

skies reveal

another season

another set of rituals

this time I will not

hang a wreath and pretend

to usher the year in with confidence

sometimes all we can do is

darn the holes in ourselves

tighter, less gaping

almost neatly

though anyone looking closely

would see how they

sung and stretched

the fabric of us

perished beneath

Anywhere but this

How many times

Have I said

I’m tired

Close the chapter on me

Let me sleep

High up with mistletoe and squirrel moss

I sent away for a facsimile

Perhaps it will come already programmed

Take my place at the side of table

Mannikin hands jointed clicking clacking

Perhaps she’d love that mail order version

Better

Though love is no longer in our lexicon

The broken shoes of children

Destined to run barefooted

Toes stained with rhubarb juice

Tasting sour, tasting tart

Something bitter lingering among sweetness

For so long I waited

Watching

For you to turn at curve of road

And you did not (you did not, you did not, you did not)

The simmering lump in my candle throat

Never swallowed

When pain builds

First callused, then scars

Has anyone inquired what comes next?

I lost my voice

Then my sight

Then my hearing

It was terrifying

And it was peaceful

For I couldn’t hear them fall

Like tiger moths born in ice

Freeze with first breath, pirouette to ground

Nor see them rot and turn to wine

Nor speak of the pain

Through their juicy little mouths sewn quiet

I see now

Why people run

Why people turn to stone

But what if you can’t

And all you knew was love?

Then

What?

Sometimes I want to cut you into tiny pieces

But you’d still exist

Larger than life

In my filing cabinet of expectations

I was told once if you expect nothing

You can’t be disappointed

I found that so sad

Like eggs without salt

I wanted to taste it all

Be genuine, be real

But first the fur was rubbed off

Then the gentle felt

And finally my glass eyes

Scratched

Just like when you cry

The world was blurred

I couldn’t make out who it was

Who ached and who tore

Till I looked inside and saw it was me

Standing there in the sunlit road

Watching for traffic

And maybe your return

Or maybe a fast car

Whether it hits me

Or passes by

Maybe it stops

Maybe I get in and when asked

Reply

I’m going anywhere

Anywhere but this

Behind your eyes

DSJPQ56W0AEq2Dl.jpg largeWhen I stopped dancing full-time and entered delayed puberty

my breasts swelled like a lily in a pond

at first it was kinda cool getting attention from boys

then I hated how they jutted out and called ahead

like car headlights

slowly tracking, flashing, blinding

in those days of Flashdance and Fame

the three L’s; leggings, leg warmers, leotards

loving in the afternoon, running to studio

dancing with the smell of sex on my stomach

other girls ate salad and cardboard

threw up in the bathrooms

bound their breasts with cloth

I admired their long necks and sinewy thighs

the tightness of their waists and flat chests

my own puberty felt like something out of control

foreign and unwanted to me

I wanted the lean girl of childhood back

the one who climbed trees with one hand

hung upside down

eating apples

there was too much

attached to owning breasts and thighs

even his circle of me dimmed

looking at some of my friends

the ones with slimmer hips and shoulders

still in their girl-doll-bodies

I with my woman seeping out

became a thing of disgust, or so I thought

when I carried his child, my breasts grew even more

wetting the front of my nightshirt with wasteful milk

his eyes took in the sum of me and disgusted

he looked away

always preferring me hairless and skinny

like a girl not a woman

no make-up, wearing little thin things

someone he could control

so I had a sickness in myself

of warped images, desire and lost babies

starving myself beyond the pale

it wasn’t hard, I had little to lose

soon I ran for buses on the breath of feathers

circling my waist he’d say

you remind me of Audrey Hepburn

being tiny, I decided it had been a dream

no child, no loss, no lack of desire

he sexed me every night until sate

leaving bruises on my legs and arms like

vampire bites

but always turning his head away

like he was thinking of someone else

when he left me for that girl

who was dark-skinned and voluptuous and healthy

I realized being a little girl didn’t keep me safe at all

after that I never gave myself away

to people with eyes that looked straight through me

or hands that grabbed to own

a piece of me or what I possessed

though I had no idea what

that was

lying by myself in a small room

smoking hashish in the dark listening to

Tunnel of Love on repeat

I tried to turn my heart to glass

only my body wanted to be awoken from her slumber

a virginal boy, with no grace and long hair

filled my nights and my bed for a time

I taught him how

to roll the perfect joint

and study, where time ended and pleasure began

once he asked

why do you bind your breasts every morning?

they are beautiful

I turned from him

my skin burning with secrets

and did not ever reply

for who can disclose the litany of pain?

as it lies

like a sleeping child

behind your eyes?