To My Inner Critic:

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.

a rainy afternoon in covidtime

the world has grown small –
just these walls
and some screens but it seems

the world has grown massive
impassive
two hours and forty-five minutes away is now
a year and I fear
it will continue to grow
ever slow
ever swallowing small moments we cannot retrieve

The world has grown quiet.

And by it
I feel l’ve lost you even though
I know
you are twenty-six blocks away

I miss
the clink of your coffee cup on my kitchen counter
small voices squabbling over toys
mottled boys
people noise

diving lessons

 

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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
tear-soaked towels
(marginally) true tales
hymns and bootylicious
curses uttered over failing motors
prayers of gratitude
hand-clasped leaps
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
and tip
head-before-feet
falling into the deep’s embrace