Until They Both Knew Better
Mom, I do not want
to wear pretty clothes that hang
off my frame and remind you
I am not fat, that remind you
you are. I do not want to rejoice,
the way you do, that we
are not the same, I am lucky,
and splendor in my body.
Its shape deceives me. I am to be
happy in all this body rightness.
Right curve at the crook in my thigh
where it meets my pelvic area,
just like the underwear models,
indented, smooth. I do not want to rely
on all this body rightness
but I am given no other way. So I know
I am happy because my clothes are loose,
because I am one small size
from head to toe, with a minor curve
behind me and narrow places
praised below my rib cage.
I don’t know what to do
with all this rightness that does
not make me happy, that does
not make me feel anything at all
other than not not okay like
my girlfriends whose torsos are larger,
squishy, go out where commercials say
they should go in. So I know,
at least I do not have that to worry about.
Until all this okayness shows up
at the roller rink in 8th grade in slim jeans,
in a half shirt, in the way I stand a particular way
to see who notices all my okayness and makes me
feel like I am something I have not considered
wanting to be or not. Doesn’t everyone
want to be ok?
We are a sea of bodies
each on a mysterious path
We are an ocean of souls
We could reach each other
I stretch my arms
day after day
until the veils
What do you see
Long brown curls
a ready smile
ache to reach
Why do we
each an island
that another's story
is not woven
into our own
On my way to writing group
I walked past despair in flesh
her crumpled form convulsing
in a broken-down vestibule
in a forgotten neighborhood
where cars make quick stops
Her head tucked in knees
arrows gathered in her shredded arms
along shattered sidewalks
my tears a sorrow stream
Where are we?
I closed my eyes
reached for her
heart to heart
Through emptiness I cried
O God! What can I do
I stepped inside the library
by a familiar light
She lives in me now
a constant reminder
we must love
I am never alone
When Light Emerges
Inside my abdomen I hold all the tears no one claims,
these tetherless sadnesses that wander person to person
seeking a home.
So I rest by a window looking and not
at what God has sprung from seed and soil,
as empty garbage cans roll curb to house behind our neighbors.
When I move my neck a few degrees left, a few degrees sky,
I let out the light-held breath and lose these orphan tears.
flower to flower, whisperless.
For no thing do we strive, I think.
Atoms and smaller than atoms are not really,
but individuals alone in their orbit so close together
we are asked to believe in their transient synergy:
the bed from which we rise
floor on which we rely
and every other matrix dweller’s tool.
My mannerisms wish to be less me,
until, untethered, your voice
My hands returned, thick in memories,
a few pieces were not swept away.
Rock Star Turbulence
There is an ache when finally facing
your deepest fears, gently setting them
in a safe corner, carrying on in opposition
to their desperate plea for you to continue
only the familiar, well worn path,
the one you are determined
to step away from in order to become a rock star.
Early afternoon is hardest, when the sun angles in
and the long evening is just around the bend,
when you must keep walking this new way
at a time when it would be so easy to give up,
fold into old habits, pat your dreams on the head,
set them on the shelf and act like there never was
a higher notion.
Sadness is knowing that if those dreams were shelved,
you couldn't properly go back to an old path.
The possibilities would become ghosts that weave a whisper
through every decision you make, even to stir the potatoes lest they stick.
There you'd be at the stove, your arm swirling
in deference to the mundane, your heart aching in the never-knowing
if it would have been better, if you might have flown.
Accepting the difficult truth, you walk straight
into the path of perceived risk, a single tear,
the sign of courageous determination, sliding
down your cheek, falling from your face,
a soft breeze cooling your wet skin as you hold on tight
through the turbulence of takeoff, and look forward
to the day you just might soar.
Summer Evening Blues
Smooth jazz, iced decaf
warm, humid, windless hour before dusk
I am perched beneath a sheltering canopy
and a thousand grey clouds ready to burst
Ash trays on empty tables
vacant chairs for no company
A tall girl with an orange barrette
her short, white, cotton dress ruffling out
just above the top of her pale, thin thighs
walks silently through double doors
Nothing else moves but prairie grass
planted for atmosphere
two feet from yellow-covered power lines
and an endless parade of cars driven by the faceless
For one moment I don’t care
I am a sullen child craving succor from external saviors
I ache for autumn
single syllable sentiments
love, blessed, life
solid matters, my opinion
details of a single moment
in a walking meditation
one mile at a time
no beat holds me steady
the sun, a promise
carries my frame
accompanied by a fragile silence
a link to grace
i am neither free
a smiling whisper
holding to the cord