no. 112

advice to self

when having a crisis of faith

and of character

meditate

contemplate

reflect on the transience

of all things living

and already expired

clarity?

confidence of conscience?

conundrum of conviction?

or

is there nothing

fraught with naught but

the thought

that the indecision

brought about by

years

both too many and too few

to make a mistake

in that moment

just stand still

and find comfort

in the fallibility

and the imperfection

the knowledge that

others have tried

and

succeeded

and tried

and failed

and still move forward

into the unknown

(written 14 august 2019)

no. 111

pulled from a delicious lethargy

(that of course can only be found in this microcosm)

a blanket burrow, fibrous with polyamide and cotton

swaddled until that moment

when, marshaling all the breath of patience that abides,

bhudda-like, within that bubble

of stale but comforting air

a sweet but mewling timbre

that at first calmly coaxes, but quickly becomes

more and more urgent

when, with the demands of morning just below the slip of sunrise

(that orb also struggling to heft itself from soft but heavy restraints)

a hand, small fingers curled, stealth-be-damned-now, brazenly yanks

oh, the sear upon skin liberated to the gray of pre-dawn light!

that is when defeat becomes precursor to movement

wood meets toes with icy welcome

hands greet eyes with increasing vigor

hope fills nose and belly with the promise of that which occupies

kitchen cabinets and soon sizzling pans

(that those thoughts trump all else, now, is paramount)

when, legs scrambling for purchase on the counter-top

suddenly find place around hips and arms around neck

that no-longer tiny body, all limbs and curls,

plasters itself unabashedly to the form which birthed it

too long ago for comfort, but not long enough for the space of maturity

when, nestling a lanky head between the crook of chin and neck

(that last bastion of sleep’s warmth and afterglow)

mouth receives the repast from mother’s feeding fingers

(written 2 january 2019)

no. 110

the reason for faith is not one of the need-to variety

 

recently, i became fossilized

i glanced in the mirror, and the creature reflected therein

was bones and petrified skin, still standing because of its

biological integrity, bolstered by methods of internal and external beautification;

wisps of hoary, curling hair, preserved for years by a haphazard regimen

that ignored all contrarian advice

 

strangely, in this moment i also saw my own impermanence;

bile rose in my throat, the soft tissue of which fell away

revealing the stacked bones of my cervical vertebrae

the mast to the ship of my shoulder girdle and rib-cage rudder

musculature barely there, deteriorated to a patina upon my frame

 

still, my heart beat–i could see it there

a reminder of faith

the reason for which is not need, but want

the desire to believe, that like a fossil,

a marvel of epochs existing in scientific imagination,

i will be unearthed

(written 30 may 2019)

domestic(ated) bliss

i.

is domestic bliss just a state of

brain-spun confusion?

a mindset in which we’ve convinced ourselves

there is a paradigm of false perfection

we’ve domesticated our minds

roped them in to those everyday tasks

that the bliss is just a stupor

down to the cellular level

happiness is found in a tear storm

inducing mundanity

 

ii.

you infuriate me with your love of

the brilliant boredom of bliss

you sound so contented and i want you to be restless

i want you to be like me

to be messy on the inside

i want to share those secret disappointments with you

but you smile through your saccharine words

the one-liner that reveals nothing

the photo that is so preternaturally perfect that

i must send a twinning one of my own

the smile doesn’t reach my eyes

i imagine that yours is the same

 

iii.

never thought my domestic life would be

like an old hollywood musical

a lot less sparkle, a lot more dusty-dingy

not entirely devoid of self-made melodrama

i find myself strangely breaking into song

a fugue state in which i dance an 8-beat phrase

to the pop-hits of the day

to fill the space between loads of laundry

and emptying the dishwasher

reorganizing props for the millionth time

setting the stage for cereal box reality

 

 

(written 13 april/8 may 2018)

leaving the castle by the lake

Equating home with family had always made sense to her before she had lived anywhere but this boreal country.  She knew with certainty that she was out of place here:  From her brash American-ness to her multi-ethnic appearance, no one could mistake that she was not of this land and never would be.  Curly black hair wild under her attempt at a hand-knit beanie, children still stared at her in unabashed wonder of her origin.  She had come here for her own children, but even though they could sponsor her residency, they could not make her any more acceptable in this place.

Nevertheless, she found a strange sense of peace in her bubble of otherness.  She was largely left alone, only spoken to when absolutely necessary, able to bask in her own thoughts during the quiet school days and nights when the children were asleep.  She filled the silence with songs and soliloquies or the quiet tapping of her fingers on the keyboard.  Soul food was different here, but nevertheless filled her belly with its bland richness.  Taking up a national hobby, she brushed off her needles and knit with abandon as if her creations would inspire admiration from anyone but herself.  One morning, she realized that she had dreamed in a language not her own, and thought:  Am I finally one of them?

She imagined what it would be like to go back from whence they came.  Things had changed:  Her homeland was a foreign country, more foreign than this place.  Her house had been renovated while she was gone.  Old landmarks and routines were no longer familiar.  Her driver’s license had expired long ago.  She could hardly remember street names or locations even though she had lived there for twelve years.  Shocking what absence could do.  For some, homesickness made the imprint of memories stronger.  She had never been homesick–her brand of sentimentality never allowed it.  All she had done was waved goodbye, let go, faced forward, and jumped head-first into a singular adventure of her own making.

Now in the kitchen, she peered through the blinds.  Much of her time here had been spent looking, staring, observing with intention.  She searched the evergreens in the distance, eyes stopping only once they lit upon her favorite building in the town.  In the summertime it was not visible; the foliage of cottonwood trees lining the back fence of the parking lot obscured the view.  But now, during the winter, the bare bones of the trees framed the castle with their phalanges.  It was tiny at this distance, even though she could reach it in fifteen minutes on foot if she left the apartment right now.  Its cone roof, slate grey against the sky.  Although she could not see it, she knew the lake, its face undisturbed, provided the perfect backdrop.  At night it was obsidian, reflecting the lights of the town.  In the long summer days it was wreathed with her favorite lupines in purple, pink and white.  The flowers and the lake were etched into her arm by a tattoo artist named Sanni.  The short-lived pain of carrying this special spot with her seemed a small price to pay.

She would miss this place. She felt a sadness that enveloped her entire being.  It was so powerful that she had to hold her breath to push it down.  She no longer knew where she belonged; too removed from her previous life, not enough invested in this one to plant herself firmly in a land of strangers who welcomed her as a curiosity.  There was no place that felt like home.  She wondered if there ever would be, and who she would have to become to find it.

(written 12 january 2018)

no. 103

reappear

have you wondered where i have been

lurking in corners, fallen off the earth

or have i given myself too much importance

?

the messy center of my own universe

suddenly withdrawn, retracted, only to reappear

when all is quiet

and the weightiness of life has fallen off my shoulders

when things are less messy

and i feel more centered in this universe

that doesn’t really belong to me

unable to string together simile or metaphor

no figurative language to describe

my current state of being

except to say, oh, how i have missed you

will you know i have returned

?

will you open your arms

accept my non-apology

a silent sliver on the tip of my

once silver tongue

treat me like it never happened

?

written 24 july 2018

 

no. 102

monday

does the universe hold something against monday

an artificial organization of time has doomed that day

to be forever vilified by all but eager-to-please school children

and those who have no sense of the ordering of calendars

long ago before gregory and julius

before the compartmentalization of time

we rose with the sun and lived by the cycles of the moon

and monday never existed

i wonder were we happier then, or merely not as disappointed

by the passage of time and the inevitability of its running out

were we still obsessed with busy-ness and weighted down

by expectations unfulfilled

did accomplishments mean anything

or did we just exist

(written 16 april 2018)