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

Rumors

we walk as we talk,
marveling at the sun’s slow plunge into the darkness of the sea,
the houses growing larger as we get further from the campground,
like an infinite row of monstrous nesting dolls,
larger and larger than life, it seems,
further and further from who we are in day to day life

I squeeze his hand and ask him if he’s ever done it before,
and he tells me no,
a slight pink shade growing in his bronze cheeks,
a raw, irresistible honesty behind eyes that match the bright blue of the sea in the morning

we come to a place where there are no lights or other signs of life,
nothing, except his rapid breath and pure excitement,
a slight shyness and awkwardness,
which I find riveting;
he wants me

and in the gritty sand and damp kelp that line the beach,
I let him have what he thinks he wants,
as the bold waves grow unrelenting,
spreading rumors of my rapaciousness back down the shore

Brittle

it’s the people you think you know that you really have to worry about,
because one day, you wake up,
and you don’t actually know them

you look at the person,
and they are so familiar it hurts,
but, somehow, they are also a stranger;
you know you love them,
but you no longer recognize them

and you realize the knowing is just a story you’ve been telling yourself,
the one that helps you get out of bed every morning

you knew each other once,
but, at some point, it became easier to write a story than to cross the awkward space that grew,
one silent, stiffening moment at a time

now it’s all too brittle,
and you just want them to leave

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

Contrition


my body is not an act of contrition

it’s not a performance I put on to pay penance to those who must look at me;
this is not a transaction,
my effort at some standard of beauty
for your regard

I will not apologize for your attention,
or arrange myself to make your looking at me a pleasant experience

I will not suffocate,
agree to the expense,
or bow to the impracticality of it all;
I will not mold myself to earn your recognition

my body is not an act of contrition

Rain

it’s not a midlife crisis,
it’s a cracking,
like thin ice on a puddle of water,
first just some hairline wrinkles around the eyes,
then the rest, all at once

it’s a 40-odd year journey of finally feeling free enough to crack,
of figuring out how to pick apart the shell and stand in the presence of myself,
of giving myself permission to unearth and to write,
but also to stalk my own soul,
and sometimes having too much of my own self

sometimes the stalking hurts,
if for no other reason than my skin doesn’t feel like it’s mine;
sometimes I panic,
because I’ve been staring at the answers for so long,
but can’t locate the questions

finding and asking the right questions,
speaking them out loud and in the open,
oh, God –
it turns the air around my words into weather

they say a person’s personality is the sum of their experiences,
but that isn’t entirely true;
if my past was all that defined me,
I’d never be able to put up with myself –
I need the freedom to convince myself that I’m more than the mistakes I made yesterday,
that I am all of my next choices, too,
all of my tomorrows

I am words into rain,
face upturned as the dirt around my bare feet becomes freckled with brown question marks,
my body a thing to be spoken with

and I reach out with open arms for those I love,
pulling them so close there will never be room for blame

Riveting

his face transforms as he stares at me,
a burning recklessness filling his eyes as he leads me into a wind tunnel kiss,
my whole self leaning into the sweeping lost

I become the warmth, the wet,
the tickle, the sting

we can’t let go –
it becomes the writing of a song,
a balancing act of unearthing,
the ferociously visceral sensing of the other as we sway,
back and forth in search of a revelatory harmony

and I realize the only time I feel alive is when he looks at me like that,
riveting me to the moment