Up in your tower with rifle in hand
ready to quell a rebellion:
“Just stand in perfect formation – Don’t blink and don’t bleed –
Don’t you try anything – unless you succeed.
Don’t show your hunger – Take up the slack –
Don’t be seen thinking you’re something you lack –
Don’t step in places where you don’t belong –
outside these walls they all know you’re a con.”
Acute and unyielding, relentlessly mean –
I want you to know that, my darling, you’re seen.
In the time of the siege when rations were low,
it was you who made sure that consumption stayed slow.
When detente into skirmish invariably broke,
our head below crossfire you kept, and you woke
through the night with your ears tautly tuned
to the rumblings of hellfire
and never assumed what the morning would bring.
You knew that one firefight could change everything –
everything ever and always at stake,
one misstep from us could make everything break,
so you taught us to tiptoe through lands full of mines,
to be diplomat/decoy/defender
to find what the moment required us to be
and shapeshift so quickly that no one could see.
Your vigilance sheltered me, carried me then.
But the time of the siege…it came to an end.
It ended a while ago, darling. I swear.
If I tune out your voice, don’t assume I don’t care –
you constructed a fortress to help us survive.
Don’t be angry, my love, if I wish now to thrive
in these wide open spaces – I know love – they’re scary –
with no hiding places to shelter the wary.
We’re better at margins and better at walls,
and in places where others can run we still crawl –
but please don’t be angry with us about that.
My darling, it’s just that we’re at where we’re at.
We’re here. And we’re breathing still. After the siege.
With time left to find out what things may yet be.
when i was in my larval stage
before I knew the word “misogyny”
i asked my diary why God
put the dreams of a great man
into the body of a small girl
who had neither the strength nor the intelligence
to achieve them.
and i was so, so smart,
and i was so, so strong.
I’m sorry for the time I spent looking for your flaws
when all I ever needed was to bask in your glory.
I’m sorry it took me so long to understand that there is
enough special to go around.
That, in fact, every last one of us is a motherfucking masterpiece.
That we’re sequoias – mighty, heavy and sprawling with interlocking roots
such that when one of us is nourished
we all grow strong.
I’m sorry I didn’t know that pain is not a contest.
That there has been enough of that to go around.
That it’s not the severity of the wound that makes it important.
It’s the mere fact that you are wounded, and you are important.
And that when we all tend gently to your hurt
it teaches me that all my own little pain-filled places
are also worthy of love.
I’m sorry I didn’t see the lies in the stories I was told
about ugly stepsisters and evil cheerleaders.
I’m sorry I thought you had to lose for me to win.
To all of you young ones who dare to know your power,
I’m sorry for pushing onto you the judgment I was served.
To all of you vibrant ones whose magic I begrudged,
You see, I believed a lie that I didn’t have enough of my own.
Ha. We are dripping in it. Drowning in it.
As many shades and textures of it as there are sisters.
God who holds everything together
by whom molecules bind and firing neurons form thoughts
Inventor of toddler snuggles and loving glances
by whom rocks banging together can result in
the living sound of water escaping snow under a late february sun
of birds, giddy with newness,
in competition for the most weightless song
incursions of purple into a wasteland of white
as the crocuses sense that something is coming
there’s snow on the ground but we know that it’s coming and you can’t tell us otherwise
God by whom I have been seen
God who has met me
on the floor of that apartment
on the way to that hospital
who has not required of me
who has only asked me to accept comfort and to know peace
who at times when there was no floor
has told me that I would not fall forever
who has shown me that
even when it is not alright
somehow still I am alright
I’ll call you by the names I know
but I do not expect the name that I call matters
as much as that I call
and ask for a floor
just, at some point, a floor
and that when I land I would not be alone
I wrote a letter.
It is a business letter.
Not even a creative letter.
I wrote it for you to use on your committee.
Did you read it?
Have you seen it yet?
Please tell me it is wonderful.
Not wonderful. That’s not it.
Please tell me it is The Best Letter That Anyone Has Ever Written.
Please tell me it is The Letter That Is Going To Change Everything.
I don’t write a lot of letters these days.
I wipe a lot of bottoms.
I sweep the same floor a lot of times.
I put the same clothes into the machine over, and over, and over again.
I really hope you like the letter.
Because I kind of stapled myself to it.
love is rebellion
when you begin to crack like scorched earth
and the sun’s traitorous kisses leave you like a sparrow’s egg
when what was demanded of you since the day you arrived
falls further into memory with each sunset
love is mutiny
when your shadow covers more sand than it should
when your body is soft
like your will
and keeps moving after you have stopped
love is brazen
when all you’ve made evaporates
like dew from a cactus’ spine
and the only thing you bring to each dusk is that
small drains on this plane’s resources
are still breathing
love is madness
when you’re the molted skin
of the creature you once were
and changing winds
leave you flailing
for how or where to spend yourself
and anyhow, you’re spent
you miss her
all nerve and knowing, instinct and ease
you regard her waffling, wilted remains
then you survey the terrain that shaped these remains
brittle, broken, careless
beating down on every beating thing
and you realize your contempt is borrowed
from a place that only ever wanted to hollow you and move on
and the taste of venom rises to your mouth again
fuck everything you’re supposed to be
you whisper tenderly
with a flick of your forked tongue
there’s pixie dust in the water
off this island coast
where time is liquid
so i am both mother and child
and can learn the things i never did
about how to fall
and how to fly
there’s place on this rock
where hands and feet press concrete
to shape the land
but it is the land that shapes
as it did mothers and fathers
great-grandmothers and great-grandfathers
whose ashes conform to the landscape
there is family in this place
sprawls like family
stings like family
deep like family
thick like family
there’s sacrament in these cups
their origin unknown
intermingled as the stories that flow with wine
on docks, on decks, in kitchens
there’s story in these beams
creaking beneath my feet as they are lifted and dropped by the tide
whispering things to which they have borne witness
battles and confidences
(marginally) true tales
hymns and bootylicious
curses uttered over failing motors
prayers of gratitude
and other pacts
feet that have pressed them
running-running-running, slowing, but never ceasing to return
to the rites observed here
there is pixie dust in this water
so I stand where beam meets sea
falling into the deep’s embrace