(a poem in celebration of the Lakelights Art and Music Festival 2015)
Burn your ties, bring your love.
Like a child in the clover fields. Follow
the path of welcome signs.
Balance yourself where you are, spread your toes
sink your bones into the earth and witness.
Without reconnaissance. Startled. Sedate.
Seeking kindness in the void.
There are places for laughter
in your throat, pulling from the belly.
as the creation of the universe. Joy
let me tell you a story about the oyster
a stranger said
with a smile as wide as summer afternoons
it belongs to you,
(stay with me.)
you are the oyster. Dance this around
in your head like stars. Unabbreviated.
Love rises like sea foam. Splitting. Throw it open
like the shores of Spain, Ireland
and lakes in small towns where corn stalks sway
the artists rise like storms thundering
the sound of dancing feet, bare, drums
pounding sleek, warm with body
heat cool as sipping air between your lips. mandating
rituals new as a child’s first cry old as harvest moons.
Halcyon roots of Mesopotamia
Kaleidoscope sutures loose as limbs
on Whitman, Frida Kahlo and ragtime beats.
One day this boy will be a man. He of the
sun-bleached hair and long eyelashes
who smells like dirt under the nails, peanut butter
watermelon shampoo and hugs with his entire being.
I wonder if I will grieve this boy-thing beasty that
would rather dig holes in the yard with a spoon or
create wild art with torn sheets of notebook paper. No.
There can’t be grief where there are long walks holding his
square hand in mine studying bees and looking
for storm clouds and once he said he wants to be a father
and have a wife. My heart stuttered stopped my
eyes watered joy for his good dreams.
I am in the now with him because that
is the only place he can really find me
reading bedtime stories, teaching him a boy can
become a man who dances and women are his friends
not his adversaries and how books open doors and souls
and kindness isn’t something waiting on a shelf
for perfect timing and perfect faith.
As mothers we always find ourselves standing in
Between fractions of moments sometimes heedless
because days are at once short and long
counting calories and stretch marks on our thighs
buying boxes for our treasures left under beds empty
nurturing needing and dismayed by our own perception
of perfect and longing to be better because we value
what lies in the tide of our dna- the knowing it is one
day this boy will only have a memory of the lines on
our faces and the sounds of our voices singing Katy
Perry songs in cars strewn with wrappers and how we
laughed at bad jokes and told him stories about
our lives giving a glimpse of our inner selves
hoping he will see how dear is love and love
is energy that never dies but transcends the
weight of our bodies, bad days, and dirty socks.
One day this boy will be a man bristling with
maleness and wear his heart not on his sleeve
but in his chest loudly beating open, swift, and
giving as his bedtime kisses and curiosity.
I was a sick girl hiding in back rooms
admiring the way chemicals smelled like citrus
and floor cleaner. Nothing wrong with that I thought
learning the names of things we couldn’t say in better company.
I wanted to feel better and it’s always about that
this feeling of being so repulsed by your own flat
two-dimensional sense of self that
stained mattresses on floors and baby this is a nice
buzz put a smile on my face and a shine in my eyes.
One time I talked to an old friend on the phone
and tried to sound like my old self
light as meringue on lemon pie. Not geeking, tweaking, nail-biting
I could lie and say this road is long behind me, but sometimes I see
that sick girl in the rear view mirror
waiting to be slipped on like a favorite dress or that plum-colored lipstick
I loved back in 1999.
I wish I could bury her in her convulsions of plastic glory
I wish she was a seed that would grow into a cherry tree and I could
taste the sweet of overcoming something
I never could understand and it’s so close. I have my victory
but am kept humble by all that loss and
when the reaper stands in the light and I can’t breathe
and I want to hurt myself because sometimes the world is too vast and I
am so small when I am riding the day, waiting for the next unbroken
stream of sameness.
I know how easy a virus it is, this contagion
that never leaves your bones and when I see them in corners or on streets
I want to embrace them and say it will be but a lullaby but
when you’re an addict the only possible cure is the truth
but that’s like saying maybe this winter the ice won’t come again, or that people
will learn to always be kind. It’s there, it’s present, it’s
sunshine blues and tenuous promises. Still. I am entitled to nothing
but faith I can make it until tomorrow and the only way out
is through. It’s been years but time is not the measure of what we are
capable of. It’s that moment
of who you want to be when you want more
than just to feel better for a little while.