Hell, I don’t even know how to feel yet.
I vibrate from feeling to feeling so quickly,
gliding from one to the next, never really touching down.
I smile or laugh, but the remembrance swipes it off my face.
She whispers in my ear that she doesn’t want the smiles to be stolen away, but I love her.
I knew it was coming.
But, I’m not prepared to watch her suffer.
I’m not ready to let her go.
I hear the constant prattling of the voice, but I cannot hear my own thoughts.
When you speak, I watch your lips move, grasp their graceful forming of the words.
I watch your eyes speak louder than your voice, notice your face animate with conviction.
I read as I listen.
The voice incessantly clacks its triage like keys on an old typewriter, always placing feeling before logic.
Your feelings before mine.
I have done that for so long, I can hear your thoughts, even when your lips do not move.
In the mirror, I try like hell to read my own lips, but the keys are eerily silent.
There’s a poem in this place,
in the not-quite-silence of the early morning,
in the constant companionship of the ticking of the clock,
and in the furry paw falls across the laminate floor.
It is here where a woman writes a lyric she no longer whispers to say.
There’s a poem in this place,
in its second-hand, blue collar grace,
in its well-worn wooden things and well kept lawn,
and in the backyard garden boxes engineered by her youngest daughter.
It is here where she has planted roots.
There’s a poem in this city,
in these tree-lined, bicycle-ridden streets,
in the laughter that makes its way through the open windows, lighter than the air,
and in the warmth in the smile from the elderly woman across the street.
It is here where her heart became full.
There’s a poem in his eyes, always,
in the way she says his name,
in the history they hold between their hands,
and in the future for which they know only one certainty: together.
It is here where she knows home.
you hug her with flippant arms,
kiss her with lips pursed with words lying in wait,
listen with ears that scramble her station unrecognizable;
it may as well be static
and she looks at you with knowing eyes,
her lungs crackling with the laughter of too many ghosts,
your name a promise beaconed by her light and slipped into the glass bottle that is her heart,
knowing there’s a chance it might break
even though she wishes she did not;
you love her with a squeaky, newborn heart,
with words that are too large to fit through the close-knit threading of your ego,
protecting a past that fear keeps you from seeing through a microscopic lens,
so the words bury themselves in infertile soil,
never to bloom
maybe she could sacrifice,
maybe she could stay;
you ask her to,
you say you’ll change
maybe I could give up parts of myself for you,
maybe I could go without,
maybe he will really change
but who would she be if she lived her life fishing empty glass bottles from a perpetually low tide?
life was Dorothy Hamill haircuts and bright white roller skates with colorful wheels,
dimples and batted eyelashes and 25c ginger ale in returnable bottles
before it became grocery store boxes of hair color and the embarrassment of paper food stamps,
30 pounds of extra weight and fingernails bit to the quick and too many crushed cans of Milwaukee’s Best Lite littering the shitty apartment
life was bruises no one could see and tear-soaked pillow cases,
reduced priced school lunches and ketchup sandwiches at home and too many unasked questions by too many people who were supposed to be doing the asking
before it became her own hands swinging and her mouth repeating and too many more tears on another generation of pillow cases,
expired milk and bare cupboards and needle tracks up arms that have hugged all the wrong people
the rains come again,
tap-tapping at the window panes,
a symphony out-of-sync,
not unlike the fearful beating of her own heart
a familiar, creeping terror rises from a place beyond thoughts,
some innermost trap door flying open,
her instinct to leap upon and lean against it with all her might,
to padlock it shut,
but that energy has long ago evaporated
so she murmurs in a rhythm,
uttering age-old phrases that spin-cycle in her mind,
an attempt at talking herself off an unrevealed ledge,
fear pumping off her in virulent, toxic fumes
she isn’t herself,
hasn’t been for a long while;
her very smell like that of imminent winter,
brittle and airless with the heavy inertia of time
as the weight incrementally increased,
she folded her desire in half,
then in half again,
until she could barely feel it at all,
tucking it into that hidden corner of her heart,
a minuscule origami equal in measure to her worth