Sometimes I step outside

our family river,

out of the flow

that sometimes floats me

from Monday to Thursday,

from January to June,

that sometimes pushes past my wading knees,

sometimes dunks me in an overwhelming joy,

sometimes dunks me long enough and hard enough

to make my hands scrabble along the bottom,

seeking purchase, direction, traction,

seeking up and out.

Sometimes I step outside

not to smoke a cigarette

or take a brisk walk

but to catch my breath,

to catch it like a firefly in a jar,

to hold it close

and look at its flash and burn,

to feel myself big and strong

for once

to feel that I could crush the glass

with my overcharged and pulsating hands,

these hands that pet my children’s heads,

that steer our car,

that feed hungry meters,

that stir sugar into strong cups of coffee,

that touch my husband’s soft ear lobe,

that shove themselves deep deep

into my jeans pockets

to steady themselves

steady themselves



Sometimes one shrinks

from the brink

of a gathering

of wonders.

Will I be warmed

by their flashing, collective light,

or torn asunder for lack

of the firmament needed

to hold my own candle steady

against and amidst

such bright gusts of self?

Early in the week

my door bell sounded, resounded

through the stone-surrounded apartment.

My allotted time with a mentor-writer

came and went.

I spent that golden hour

face down on the soft, rented bed,

enshrouded in knowing

I couldn’t bring my flame

to the shared banquet table –

it was too fragile,

I was too fragile.

Always building, shaping, loving

my own glow,

always bandaging, soothing, kissing

my deep hurt.

Always eyes wide,

the world feeling curt.

I was not ready

to join the show

and therefore

to know

if others


that yes, the time had come

to speak.

If others

would pull out a chair,

lay a plump worm in my beak.

I was not ready

to plant my seed

in a shared, fertile row

to see if it would grow.

I stared into the blanket,

into nothing.

Later I tracked down an afternoon coffee,

troubling off-duty waiters

who acted untroubled

despite their double shifts.

I lifted that dark drink to my lips

and told myself that this dose of bravery,

of caffeinated who-gives-a-shit,

would have to

it must

do the trick.

I licked my milk-caked spoon

and quieted the stubborn, nervous swoon,

the panic of showing this gorgeous group

one sliver of me.

The me

that is

part tree

part fairy

and part

what other people see.

What only they can see.

I can’t breathe through my nose anymore.

Is it stuffed up, or just damaged beyond repair?

It’s hard to say.

But I can smell with my mouth

and my eyes, with my memory of blue skies

and yellow cheerfully yellow daisies.

I know in my tippy toes

what scent fresh raspberries carry

above their bowl – it bowls me over still.

It is an odor of promise, of effort spent

in bending low and plucking,

of bees fucking,

of ruby jewels tucked away

and playing CUCKOO! with prying eyes

and protective leaves.

I forever know the wafts of roses

climbing my mother’s walls,

petals falling down and my soul lifting,

soaring up past the roof, POOF,

I am up there, even now,

resting, loafing on a cloud,

a perfect bed of perfume,

mom at her loom, dad who knows where,

I didn’t care.

So here I am, head jammed

between explosions of yellow and more yellow.

Who needs, what do they call it,

an offsetting color?

Ha! Yellow does it all, the petals

curl and unfurl, anchored at the center, yes,

but each one with a mind of its own.

And I KNOW what it smells like,

what it wants to be,

how it touches air,

how it pulls up water

to feed its shock of hair.

Sometimes I stick my nose

such as it is

deep into the blossom’s center.

I ask if I may enter,

I won’t stay long, won’t prolong

this ecstatsy, this face embrace,

the touch on my cheeks

that reeks of kindness

and pleasure

and acceptance.

Middle-Age Privilege

Outdoor cafe table.

Wine glasses full.

Local greens spilling out

   of hubcap-size bowls.

Hair fluffy but well-bossed.

Glossy toes in mules.

Chunky watch.

Large overflowing bag

   sitting like a well-behaved dog

   at ankles-crossed feet.

Phone nearby, silent.

Best friend, all ears.

More wine.

No interrupting.

Lots of nodding.

Long spells of describing

   running injuries,

lamenting having sold

   the eliptical.

Lamenting being forced

   to do yoga

   until the knee

   is better.

And if I stand too close

to the cold walls

of the quiet house,

if I let my cheek touch the paint,

my hand will reach out

to grab hold of the door frame,

old and substantial,

its task so simple and essential,

holding open the space

through which we walk

safely every day,

keeping the roof from pushing down

on our crowns.

If I do grab the frame,

press my skin to the inner skin of this house,

I can then let the tears come.

The house mothers me

while I let go of grief.

I could stand here for hours.

The walls and doorways,

the wood floors and windowsills,

the corbels and porches and many, many doors,

they've weathered much more

than my weakness,

my nudity,

my life.



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