What I’m Made Of

all my life I’ve wondered what’s inside of me,
what I’m really made of

is it all hope-driven gears, creak-cranking,
squeaky with cynical grease?

or is it luminous rays of wonder and awe,
eyes, blinking and seeking love, pure and true?

is it all smoke, a fevered kiln of passing time,
age-dried straw, a mess of flaking atrophy?

or is it a not-so-flash flood, raging, rising,
the result of an aching, beating heart?

is it all waves of water and crackling fire,
opposing forces, one constantly quenching the other?

or do I simply burn for all that I am not,
for all I do not have?

-artwork by my daughter

Familiar

amidst the chaos,
amidst all I don’t know,
all that isn’t mine to maneuver,
all that is out of my reach,
I know this familiar misery,
this misery that’s all mine

and I can make as much as I want

Smile

they had all gathered to celebrate,
a room full of family from near and far,
her longing to see them equal in measure to the anxiety she felt in a crowded room,
one full of prickly expectation

she tried so hard to be the mirror others expected her to be,
but her smile was like a wound that had thickened as it healed,
nothing but rough, numb skin where nerve endings once existed

Focus

the earth rotates at a speed
of one thousand miles per hour,
while simultaneously orbiting the sun
at a speed of sixty-seven thousand miles per hour

sometimes I feel those two speeds,
acutely, in my body at once

when, beneath my feet,
the world feels spongy,
no longer solid and dependable,
but porous and deceptive

at the same time,
everything is slowly clicking into focus,
becoming crystal clear,
real, maybe for the first time

Communion

life has drastically evolved in our 26 years together,
and we, too, are not the same,
but, still, your smile softens the sharp edges of this hard world,
flapping its wings so high in the air it falls upon me like a meteorite,
its iridescent fabric trailing red thunder and liquid gold,
planting in my heart the kind of hopeful purple only communion can produce

I love you

Somewhere Else

as we sit in the quiet,
I wonder,
is enough of me still located here?

I lead a pretty normal life:
I work, I have conversations,
I make grocery lists and cook dinners,
I parent my children,
I am a wife;
I am not always stuck inside my selves

but it feels so often that part of myself is in this place,
while, at the same time,
the most important parts are in a different place,
a place that can’t be accessed in the mundane,
a place so deep I need to be alone to open,
be alone to sift through and allow to be free

you gently break the quiet;
you speak to me in your raspy voice and I can hear you,
I can talk and follow along the well worn paths we’ve created in our many years together,
but my most important parts are somewhere else,
and I can’t seem to locate them

Time

I have been wake-walking in a worn-out tired that’s perpetually nauseous,
ravenous for something, but not hungry, exactly,
raw in a way that takes me by surprise and frustrates me;
the most trivial things are the last straw,
and there seem to be so many lasts

I have learned it’s not possible to wake up on the wrong side of the bed when you never really slept,
when there was no restful sleep,
just the tiny spaces between the cyclical blips of a never-ending SOS

and no matter what face I put on,
I am not greener on the other side,
I cannot find the sweet, restorative spot,
and too many days it feels like life is a zero sum game –
you only win until you lose again

I have been here before,
in a place that was a slow slide into conscious unconsciousness,
and the difference this time is that I know where I am,
I know who I am as I rest my head on the warm side of the pillow,
because I don’t have the energy to flip it,
and the flipping is never fast enough, anyway,
is it?

time isn’t on my side, which is funny,
because time is the only thing that matters,
isn’t it?

and I just keep asking myself:
what would be the point of living,
if we didn’t allow time to change us?
if we didn’t realize that time is the purest form of love on this earth?

What If?

I’ve been stuck in a sinister roundabout,
involuntary traveling in circles,
swallowing so many words

but there is devastation in silence,
and my tongue in not well-trained in sitting still for very long,
so, sometimes, when I do speak, it sparks,
the words rippling and licking at our bridges to burn

I don’t know what to do, then,
because it’s so strange to want so badly to talk and wish for silence at the same time,
to feel so uprooted and stuck,
so lost

so my idle hands rip and crinkle and unwrap,
and I gnaw and choke and chew,
trying like hell to drown the flames,
seeking for and feeding the source in the deepest pit of my stomach,
but it only manages to metastasize into rolls and folds,
unable to stifle the unbearable heat

and when I do manage to let it all bubble and rumble it’s way to the surface,
I shiver, despite the swelter,
because all I can do is wonder:
what if, even though we see that all our mistakes are forgivable,
when we hold hands and lay time flat,
silencing the maelstrom into white noise,
we find that nothing we had hoped and expected to evolve actually changes?
what if this is as good as it gets?