Liquid

for many, the sun’s rising is a new start,
a spark of freshness and hope,
of some new unknown,
of possibility

but the sharp rays peeking through the black curtains were anything but;
they were sinister tentacles gripping and pulling her into the known,
which she fiercely wished was not

her blurry eyes were smeared with yesterday’s camo,
her mouth filled with sticky secrets she had tried so hard to swallow but never digest,
and this morning was just another in an endless slice of time that never seemed to pass

so she reached to the bedside table,
desperate, not for the glass of water,
but for the two small pills that would begin her swift transformation from a solid,
something rigid, too tight,
to liquid, not flowing and fluid,
but a stagnant pool of nothingness,
however fleeting it may be

Duality

there are moments of astonishment and resignation that hold me forever in debt and bondage to the memories I harbor from living a childhood in a small, factory town,
in a family in constant battle

I belonged to a family with a fatal attraction to intensity,
to instant gratification,
to outrageousness of response

we were instinctive, not thoughtful,
connoisseurs of fight and flight,
never happy unless we waged our own private war against the rest of the world,
priding ourselves in our ability to survive

and the war just repeated and repeated itself,
only revealing itself to be a war against ourselves,
lives in constant, unrelenting tension,
always dancing with blind risk and driven by fear of exposure,
a life composed of ice and falling rock

these frequent moments of surprise and consecration center around a singular fear –
a fear of emptiness in life, nihility, boredom,
the hopelessness of a life devoid of thoughtful action;
it is the death-in-life of the masked perpetuity of middle class,
the fear of the kind of deep dive that brings forth truth which sends a shiver through my soul

I often try to ground myself,
remembering the days so long ago when I buried my tiny bare toes in the clean grass,
the fresh smell of rain seeping through the cheap wooden screen door as I stood, listening, with my innocent forehead pressed against it,
and I try to duplicate it –
if I walk my tired bones before the sun rises,
take the time to breathe in the silence of the air and feel the moonlight on my face,
I am sometimes able to connect myself to the deep hum of the planet,
inject life into the marrow of these papery bones

but if I continuously turn on the television or bury my face in the rabbitole of my phone to avoid an evening alone with myself,
it feels as if I am admitting my membership with the living dead

it is the humble, messy, industrial town part,
the splintered, chaotic part of me that is most quintessentially and fiercely alive

those small town, tumultuous memories are the ones that infiltrate the entirety of whatever authenticity I continually bring to light as an aging woman

it is an intricate duality that exists –
they can both fuel and extinguish my flame if I let them

Delicate

what do we allow to lie, hiding,
in the margins of our silence?
in the sinking absence of all impetus?

autumn leaves change not by choice,
but by necessity,
a silent, inevitable reaction to all time passed,
to all interaction that came before,
an inherent response to the wholeness of their surroundings,
to their experience of living

first, it is a slow loss,
almost imperceivable,
then a maelstrom of many stimuli at once,
eventually becoming the catalyst to something so beautiful and transforming,
it feels extraordinary,
because it is

then, there is a necessary letting go,
a freeing and frightening fall whose landing transforms into something fertile,
something that slowly,
not painlessly,
decomposes to feed their own roots,
to prepare them for days to come

what do autumn leaves know that we do not?
what lies in the margins of our silence,
in the delicacy of our awe?

Blister

some days, I can’t feel much at all,
but I can smell my own grief,
overwhelming, distant,
like the first hint of smoke hitching in the wind,
a foreshadowing of something larger,
gaining momentum

but there is always too much to do,
and never enough time,
so I snuff it out,
pinch the red hot phosphorus of it between my tired fingers,
leaving behind only scorched, raw skin

it’s fine,
it’s fine

I keep repeating it to myself,
but as I go about the day,
one mountainous thing to the next,
I keep catching a whiff of it,
and I can’t help pressing the blistering it leaves behind,
both comforting and chilling

and I wish I could just take a needle to it,
relieve some of the pressure,
but I can’t –
I can’t say I miss her,
I’m not ready yet

Combat

everything inside her is slowing down,
as if time has shifted,
the thunder that had fueled her movement and kept her perpetual,
is gone

she knows she’s dying,
and it seems a ridiculous death,
caused not by the rapid growth of sinister cells invading,
but by the painful slowing down

without the thunder inside her,
there is an unbelievable emptiness,
ash where fire used to burn

I see in her eyes the combat,
the fighting against the belief that when you no longer exist,
the world around you ceases as well

though she never thought much of herself,
she is grasping,
convinced the world is contained within her,
denying the fear that it all probably just goes on,
it all just continues

and I don’t know which is more painful to swallow

Impossibility

“how are you?,”
she asks,
like people always do,
as if she, like most,
does not understand the absolute impossibility of the question

it becomes a frantic puzzle to decode:
does she really want to know the truth?
how can I possibly sum it up in a simple answer?

or is she just asking in the meaningless way people do,
only wanting the answer,
“fine”

because I am not fine

Roots

I still think about the way he listens to my secrets,
cradling the words and folding them into himself,
even as I continue to unearth the worst of me,
digging so deep,
I chip away the cracked to find the patinae,
so aged,
I taste rust in the back of throat

many days,
my bones feel as if they’re already drawing me
into the earth,
but he reminds me it’s just a returning
to the safety of our roots