My blue-eyed babies leave for summer break.
They take my smile pressed upon their faces.
They won't return until there's leaves to rake.
Winter was filled with slushy streets and tipsy nights at the hookah bar. Nights that tasted of apricot and held the sounds of the belly dancers' hips. No one thought there was a lack of happiness. It was perhaps when things started to thaw, the scents of comfort started to fade. That winter tasted of roasted roots and home-baked cookies. We were trying new recipes and trying to get life to work out. I was sprinkling with powdered sugar and pressing peanut butter dough with criss-crosses. Scrubbing mud off wood floors and polishing until the salt was washed out. We were sledding with rosy cheeks down hills, holding little hands inside the sleeves of snow suits. We were watching snow melt into ponds and streams, while underneath, where frozen ground lay, there was the changing and dying and shedding and new life budding, something that would break open, release, and force us to change.
Down the path, two girls skip off licking cherry-flavored popsicles. Trees sway away from the trail, the breeze pushes painted grass. Blue-eyed girl leads her friend, hand dripping with liquid sugar, mouth coated red, teeth pink and all smiles, salt in her tousled hair. The sounds of cathedral bells coalesce with flower aromas. They visit fields of flowers, she hands her a violet blossom, born from black soil and silver-cloud water. The girl finds washed up wood along the shore, "Petrified," she says, "Don't ever be that with me." Child's love is best.
Constructing, Then Deconstructing
I’m settling on materials,
Settling on a shell,
Building this because of him.
It will house pieces he tried to take.
There’s a reason why,
There always is.
How devoted I was,
My hand, now empty,
Wrinkling from airflow.
We were tongue-and-groove,
Day in and out.
Yet, there will come a time
When I can step outside,
No longer in pieces.
Holding myself in the moment,
Perhaps somewhat evolved,
I’ll use new colors and senses.
I’ll relax in the shade of the shell.
Freedom will be exiting
What used to house me.
Old security will fade,
I’ll paint myself anew.
Overhead, the sunlight.
Identity to be reclaimed.
The Sadness of Sea Glass
I was fractured long
Ago, though my edges have
Smoothed and I appear
Whole again. But you should know,
There was always more to me.
The flooding stopped, and I watched
The water drain away while the sun
Shone down on me
And made my skin shimmer.
Like diamonds, I saw the future
Lying upon wet black asphalt.
I took my umbrella down
And the last cloud hovering
Above my head washed
Away the dirt in my mind.
I pretend to smile but I'm crying.
I'm crying because I'm happy, but I can't be
Because I'm sad.
You drive south to see me.
We're wearing the same shirt.
We fall asleep together.
I cut your hair.
We hold each other.
We forget. We remember. We forget.
It's time for you to go.
We kiss and kiss and kiss.
And we don't let go.
We're kissing over soft-serve frozen cream
And later we'll pull turtlenecks, fake sass
Undressing, window yawning. Autumn dream
Is sneaking in through wavy bubble glass.
Our sentiment turns the room a pumpkin-spice.
The city flickers, glazes gusty eyes
Because I'm well enough to be enticed
By harvest's plumping moon as it gives rise.
Remember me by pulling fruit from trees
In autumn's orchards, golden, dappled boughs
That drop their crumbled blush before the freeze.
The window's slight that nature's time allows.
Before, you knew the taste of apple's round
Appearance, knowing shortened life is fate.
In equal giving, sweet outliving, we found
Each other. Place your hand here. Feel heart beat.
The sky was peeling back like a cotton ball being stretched. My stomach was cold, had been for months. I thought of dying, of death coming upon me in my sleep, so I wouldn’t have to say goodbye. I thought of sound, and how if I had never heard his words, I wouldn’t be so sad. How if I had never known his touch, I wouldn’t be so lonely. And if we had never shared each other, there’d be nothing to lose. After I broke ground and found a place where no one was, one side of me a brilliant golden light, and on the other, a full October moon, reflective in its nature. Here I forgot about myself and saw things with a sliver of clarity, enough to warm my stomach.
I visited you on a broken weekend,
And the city, like a salve, took me in.
I traded heartache for graffiti,
And the torn-up streets spoke poetry to me.
I slept in, late, on the top floor of your
Row house, finally resting, and tucked in
To your perfect nook you so deserve.
Pour-over coffee, claw foot tub, charcuterie,
And later, holes in walls on corners and a
Bronchitis rasp of unplanned karaoke.
Dinner and a downpour in a cathedral
And heartfelt words I wouldn’t
Have imagined only a few years ago.
I came home in different shoes, picked out
From where lost treasures go to die.
You gave me something, without knowing,
New eyes wet with art, expression,
Openness, and love.
Thank you, dear friend.
Recognizing the Ocean
I have only what I need.
I have a conch shell where the roaring
Of the ocean is always heard.
The sound reminds me to offer
The indestructible Dharma
To worlds that are intangible to me,
Where some good from hearing a sound
Outside samsara's poisons might occur.
I have a heart in which every day
I pray will remain open,
Even through the pain and suffering I see.
I pray it opens until there are no boundaries
Between my heart and your suffering.
I pray, even though I have only what I need,
That I can give you all you've ever wanted.
I want to run through the desert.
Not like the time I was running from you,
Barefoot, crushing flora, dodging tumbleweed,
Cracking the baked layer of the soft, red sand.
Not like the day I jumped out of the car,
Because it seemed a safer chance to take.
I want to run through the desert
Where no one is around,
Where the only sound is a bird's wings flapping,
Swishing, pushing air, moving with the Earth's Turn. This time, I wouldn't be trying to escape,
But rather to find myself in a place of stillness.
I would run until it became a meditation,
Run until my mind slips into calm-abiding.
I'd focus on a point, this point - all around me.
And all things would fall away,
Because their nature is inherently empty.
Shedding the Unnecessary
Taking him out of my life is like
Taking wallpaper off an age-old plaster.
It comes off in pieces,
Like a child picking at a scab on their knee,
I am anxious for him to be gone.
My Last Rose
I name her Laylah.
She's been with me my whole life,
But I only name her as she's leaving.
I name her after a reading,
A reading that came after a blessing.
I name her after my decision is solidified.
I name her after She calls me beloved,
And, I love you.
She is named after an angel,
An angel only the feminine can fill.
And she has been my sacred space.
But I am whole without her,
And she is never without me.
She has brought to me three blessings:
Life, noble helper, and flow of rhythm.
Laylah is named after a great transition,
One of great compassion and wisdom.
She has given wisdom to my three gems.
She has housed them and protected.
She has inner truth and purpose.
She may just be the heart of life.
I embrace this path that has grown so clear,
A white light in the center of my body,
Laylah grows too large to keep.
Spiritually and physically, I have outgrown her.
But she has and always will be with me,
Even as she's leaving in a most
Profound of ways.
I embrace her more now by letting her go.
She has brought to me my last rose,
And I rise higher as I renounce her
And give her over to a new beginning.
And my new purpose, which was always in me,
Strengthens and brings me a joy,
Like birthing a perfect child
Who will change the world with their presence.
I know one girl.
Here is what most people don't know.
How will I explain what she has done?
She is holding herself.
I pull harder, I rattle the lock.
You don't have to get used to anything.
I take a deep breath.
"I hope you don't mind that I'm leaving."
"Of course you can go."
But I don't. I could leave her right now.
I put my hands over my ears;
I lie face down. I breathe and breathe.
I have no choice but to open.
Today I'm mostly sad
For all the things
The kids are missing
It wasn't as bad as it could've been.
The grounds were lit, and I stood in the kitchen.
She looked up at me.
I came to see
It wasn't much of a stretch.
I tried to fit back into,
I got even more convinced.
I settled on and took to,
I didn't want to get too hopeful.
"There's not enough evidence,
I've been talking to some people."
I don't want to see you again.
She was already gone.
I sat out on the deck and wished for June.
In the spell of time's pale glare, I am aware
Of the absent roar, a feeling I've aged too soon.
At fourteen-and-a-half we would declare
Sun Days. We'd drag through grass a folding chair
For each of us, rub coconut on skin,
Then beg the sun to strike like rain on tin.
I always knew the roar was strongest then,
That there would never be another time
When we, like wildflowers grew, formed stems,
Sprouts of small buds, then blooms of peerless prime.
Our freedom was unrivaled, so sublime.
Yet down the street, the school sat like a shell
Without the youthful roars and daily bell.
She’s his little storm cloud. He takes her into his embrace and squeezes until she breaks into sheets of rain that white out the summer air. Passive bouts of longing, gentle eyes giving and stripping him down to bare skin. All moist with dew, he takes her into his arms that reach around her with ease. He mistakes her smallness for fragility, and as she sits on his bed, tears smearing makeup, laughter to make light the sound of her thunder, she strikes out with what she knows not is lightening. She’s unable to control the downpour of emotions, and he’s simply wishing it away, because he wants her rain, torrential yet still, all to himself.
I wake up with a bruise on my wrist, feeling full of something I don't want to be, having talked about things I didn't want to release. I forgot who I am, a pattern that has become all too familiar. I sip coffee the color of his pants, pull his shirt from my ribcage, and in an effort to forget what it is we did, both of which are at fault, I swing my hair around to the guitar and drums. Stripping my bed of its blankets and sheets, placing them on a rigorous cycle, and watching them spin through the pane of glass on the front of the washer, I am wishing my own self to be cleansed the same. And later when I climb into bed at night, new sheets turned down, my skin showered, my mind bathed in mantra, I once again make the promise: Never again.
I was fractured by the ocean long ago,
But my edges have been smoothed over,
So I appear to be whole again.
But you should know
There was always more to me.
One Gift I'd Give
Her voice is sharp, dense
In sound, no subtlety, yet
Mistaken for shy.
She turns up damp rocks
And underneath her fear is
Confidence the way
Water wears on and
Doesn't consider its path;
It just moves along.
Cliffs reside some day
In her future where water
She waits for this like
Someone standing under a
One who knows the rush
Will come, waits with arms, face up,
A smile river wide.
Apple tree in bloom
You plant me yours for the day
Hands deep in my earth
The Rustle in Calm
I'm raking leaves,
Late in day.
This quiet moment
Of coming together
After being apart.
In the raking
Of leaves, I push back
The sea with a hush.
I push leaves
To the bare wood's edge
Where deer roam in morning fog.
Only sometimes I'm
Awake to witness the fog's
Ebb before it fades.
Behind Every Ribcage
Inside every girl
Lies a corner where she cries
For all that seeps in
Girls should be seamless.
I had thought that once.
But isn’t it freeing
To know we’re not?
My heart paper thin,
He blew me a breezy kiss,
And I blew away.