I am cotton candy
sugar and air
but sooner or later
in the inevitable heat
I become a damp wad
of weeping pinky-red
I am cotton candy
sugar and air
but sooner or later
in the inevitable heat
I become a damp wad
of weeping pinky-red
as we sit in the quiet,
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
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,
time isn’t on my side, which is funny,
because time is the only thing that matters,
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?
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 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?
she always did that,
went three steps too far,
trying to map things forward and back
she had to;
she could trust only herself,
and the things she knew to be true
papering over the cracks doesn’t make them disappear,
but life is prettier when you do,
but pretty is temporary;
paper is thin,
the sun goes down
I often wonder where other people go when they turn off the lights
are they peaceful?
do they drift and dream?
or, are there some, like me,
who often wander into the crevices within themselves,
digging around inside the shadows of their blackness,
clawing away at the dirt of memories they wish they could forget,
running from maybes and what ifs,
grasping at illusions,
hoping like hell no one else can see this fitfully desperate place?
daylight ignorance isn’t bliss,
it’s only fear postponed to a later date,
and control is an illusion that can only really be felt in the letting go
denial is the most destructive form of self harm,
it’s such an exhausting work,
and the truth is always there,
lurking in the shadows,
refusing to be silenced,
demanding to be seen when the lights go out
it’s a self-inflicted,
I built my prison meticulously,
with solid walls made from bricks of guilt and obligation,
walls that seem to have no doors
but the way out is always there,
I just can’t always see it –
I have learned I just have to be willing to watch myself crumble
the sweet glow of summer rests,
ripened to golden on cheeks,
as fastidious fingers tug and pull that which is not meant to take root
a curious breeze blows welcomed secrets,
as deliciously sore muscles and hard-earned sweat unearth truths once hidden beneath the now upturned soil and rocks
anxious leaves rustle a whispered concerto in the tree tops,
as she gathers herself in handfuls,
piece by organically grown piece,
leaving behind for fertilizer that which is no longer useful above ground
and when the work for today is done,
under the blue light of the August moon,
ready for the change a’comin’
-an older favorite
this fiery fever is fierce,
a shivering cold whose frosty fingers won’t let go,
the light so bright its too-sharp blades pierce everything,
no matter whether my eyes are open or closed
it’s slowly killing me;
I am liquid mercury,
trapped inside a glass maze where the unkept, curly vines overgrow through metal grates,
like overread expressions on eyebrows I can’t escape
everywhere is too alive,
a contradictory evergreen that only seems to point to dead ends,
and I just have to keep turning back and forth,
a forced emotional mobility requiring a switching of gears too quickly,
so I end up nowhere far too often,
forcing me to ask myself:
is nowhere somewhere important?
and I can’t help but notice,
even after all this time,
I’m not able to triangulate the distance between carefree and unconscious,
there’s no formula for that,
and I’m afraid my fingers won’t find the right keys
but I also don’t want to continuously roam the same overgrown paths to the same dead ends,
so I shave the gooseflesh off my back and grit my eyes and put one foot in front of the other toward something else
I don’t know where I’m going –
I don’t know,
and maybe that’s the most honest answer anyone can ever give
I don’t know,
and even though it’s a lonely thing to have answers whose questions seem to have all died of natural causes,
I’m still searching through the maelstrom,
because my eyes are always drawn to the space between the bars,
to the place where the forest meets the stars
we were skin to skin,
our heat a ravenous, tangible entity between us,
and I could feel myself thawing beneath it,
softening around the edges,
like the petals of a freshly-emerged flower ready for bloom
we spent hours exploring one another,
night after endless night
all I remember is white everywhere:
the white glow of moonlight creeping around the edges of the curtains,
the white-hot need bursting behind my eyelids,
the whites of his eyes staring so deeply into me,
his teeth beaming from between his lips in a grin, a growl, a pleasure-pain grimace,
his pale white skin against the soft gray sheets
I’d never known skin could be so luminous and translucent,
a network of purply-blue veins visible just beneath the surface,
like threads of color in white marble,
threads that connected us so completely,
I couldnt tell where he ended and I began
through flesh and unmetered time,
I absorbed his calm,
I said yes to things I previously would not have;
I reveled in this new person I became,
this less afraid person,
this free person he inspired me to be
we fucked all the time;
I was consumed with lust,
perpetually, urgently hungry for him,
for this coupled metamorphosis
l needed to touch him,
meld with him,
to shed all the layers of contrived bullshit –
for him to know me
I couldn’t get enough
Bang, pop, whoosh. Sizzle, snap, crack. Fizz, hiss, BOOM. BOOM.
The phone rang, and as the foreign voice explained on the other end, there was no air, only the sinking, limb-tingling fear disguised as anger. Questions ejected themselves from between my lips in a stream, but I don’t remember any of them.
I rushed to be by his side, tunnel vision guiding me there. I couldn’t think, see, feel anything else. Nothing else registered, none of my surroundings, nothing at all. All I thought was – I need to hurry. I need to hurry. I need to hurry.
After the doctor delivered the news in person, I stood there, stunned. In my peripheral, I could see the glow of colors exploding in the sky just outside the large window next to his bed, and it registered that it was the 4th. The rumbling vibration of each detonation seemed to be coming from inside me.
BOOM. BOOM. BOOM.
Once I arrived home, though I desperately needed the sleep, there was very little. I tossed and turned, and tossed and turned. Finally giving in to it, I got up early, dressed and returned to him.
As I walked down the stark, institutional green hall, each step brought me closer to seeing with my own eyes what had been conveyed in words the day before, the weight of those words sinking like quicksand to the pit of my stomach.
I was acutely aware of the clinical smell surrounding me, the smell of sickness, the stench of sadness filling first my lungs, then permeating outward, finding an unwelcome home in my veins, thick like sludge, coursing and thumping.
I could hear the cries of sorrow in the bated breath wafting from some of the doors I passed. I could taste its metallic tang on the tip of my tongue. And as I arrived at the doorway of the room to which I needed to enter, I felt it in my bones, in my marrow. When I opened the door, I became its embodiment.
The few steps to the bed took me years:
I passed myself snuggled on his lap as he read to me for the millionth time, Put Me in the Zoo.
I watched as I sat between he and my mother on the yellow paisley couch, as they tried to explain why we would no longer be a family.
I saw the desperation on his face as he finally allowed me to call my mother, but would not yet let me go home to her, still.
I remembered tearing open the Christmas wrap to see the purple down coat I’d wanted so badly, the yolk-only egg sandwiches on Sunday mornings, and stove-popped popcorn with a rented movie on our every-other Saturday nights.
I saw his suntanned, orange-tinted left arm that was darker than the rest of him from hanging out his truck window, his splashing in the pool and volleyball in the summer, and helping my step-brother with homework at the kitchen table while he looked on drinking Pepsi from a two liter bottle.
I remembered the wishing I belonged, that I fit with them differently, more.
The coughing, I remembered the coughing that just kept getting worse, the constant handkerchiefs in his pockets and on the end table with his Winstons next to his chair, the red-faced breathlessness and the wheezing. And the fear in his eyes.
I remembered the devastating, life-altering heartbreak and the disappearing and the wondering, the worry and the doubt. The reconnecting and the doctors and the testing.
And finally, the hope. The hope which had fizzled away the night before with every sizzle and crack, hiss and bang and pop.
Standing next to the impersonal-feeling bed, I gripped the cold, stark metal of the railing with both hands, trying to take in all that I saw. The blinking and the beeping in the semi-darkness, the machine whose trepidus noise filled the room.
Suck, push, suck, push. SUCK. PUSH.
Eerily loud and unwelcome, it was reminiscent of the sounds heard outside the window the night before.
My eyes ran the length of the shiny metal pole on which the machine was mounted, down to the swiveling wheels which allowed it to be maneuvered to where it was needed. I noticed the simple black cord which extended to the wall.
How could such an ordinary-looking plug hold life in the balance?
Letting loose my grip a bit, I became deftly aware of my own breath, in and out, of my own heart beating, ga-gong, ga-gong, so loudly in my chest that it rang in my ears. Reaching out, I rested my hand on his chest, feeling the unfamiliar, robotic rise and fall. I felt the cool absence, the force of what would not be. And then I looked up, nodded my head, and closing my water-filled eyes, I felt with the lengths of my fingers, with the lifeline in the palm of my hand. With my very soul.
The robotic gave way to an arhythmic slowing:
Beneath my palm there was only stillness. In the tips of my fingers, there was only the thump of my own heartbeat, the trembling cry of my core.
And he was gone.