Wednesday, July 7

No Harm

 

Tanabata, tired hands folding waxed paper into
wishes to knot around hollow limbs, foil-bright
cranes under howling hoods.

I am still plating fiddleheads in July, through
heat advisory heavy weather sunscreen salt and
not one breath without the thought of you.

Sweat more than tears rolling down my arms as
I lift them to the sky, longing to reach that cool
river of stars that separates us still. I am caught
in canes of red berries,

I cannot be submerged. But I can weave, warp
and weft, words and winding, each thread a
fragile song whose whispered notes barely bend
a single leaf on the slender bamboo of your time.

I love in shards of glass reflecting, in the blood
that falls, in the way it cuts, unthinking:
lacking in filter, with total disregard for consequence
or the curses that ring in my wake. Śīla,

paper knives and silk, stars and every anxious
breath pulling me deeper, sky and sea. Śīla. 
A stone in my shoe and a weight on my heart.
Śīla. A ragged inhale. Śīla, śīla, śīla.

Tuesday, June 22

Anemone

Even in love, permafrost. Cellared autumn against incipient winter, scarlet glass,
a blaze of coral against velvet night. Exhale your prayers, visible breath,
take off your gloves. Settle here in the earth next to me and taste the chill.
How deep my roots here and still reaching for your hands, my refuge in rosemary.

I want them sunk to the wrist at the harvest moon
and seeking, I want them tangled in my hair to unearth me, turning my face
to the heat that lights my skin. Season-agnostic I tend the shape of you, held close,
awaiting convergence. There is always space for you in my garden bed. 

Some flowers need the cold to bloom; you are the only warmth I need.
I have no heart for any other--let me be your shelter when you seek the sea,
where the currents catch their breath at your every whispered word. Lay me
more than six feet down, what's left of me lit against the ocean floor,

burning wires wound tight in my marionette limbs, tethered where weeping
Tethys rages still. Sing me from the deep, call me from the catacombs
where dawn never breaks, see me tattooed in night skies and hung with pearls.
I am only foliage, dark under the veiled moon, bright petals on the verge. 

I dream of you while I sleep through summer, lost in salt water. I will wait for you,
tend my garden thalassic, where the stars are always sharp enough to cut us free.

Thursday, June 17

marrow

Summer is like this, stifling: last winter's yuzu still sticky on my hands
and every hovering firefly flash a whisper, just a brief flicker of heat lightning.
A cygnet, a signal, a falling-star ache, whip-sharp burn of want,

A wave--it isn't the rain you asked for, falling from my hair in sparks and drops,
a smile in shudders and notes and the rose-petal bruises that blossom in my skin, singing
in molasses candy, a bed of brown sugar in the snow falling from the AC vents.

The sun so bright it burns in every direction, obscuring my way home,
the shadows so long I can't see a difference in the distance and the depth,
desire sweeter than antifreeze and just as thick on my tongue.




Saturday, April 17

Cold in my hands,

in this dream, I hold a carven silver pomegranate. Scarlet juice runs down my arms, garnet seeds scatter, I am bound in a ring of peony petals, palest blush matching my cheek. 

I bear white gauze into the summer starlight, I tattoo myself in woad. My fingertips are stained the color of your eyes when they have gone dark with desire, and I can paint on the mossy stones each shuddering breath that burns beneath my skin, reddening the pale. 

I taste toasted coconut and desert air, dry and scented with cactus blossom, I come clothed in spider-silk and pearls to the sun. I am blooming, blushing too. This year is marked in pinks. In magenta shading to deep violet. 

At the pollen-bright center my body lies, an invitation writ in gold for a kiss--oh! Just one kiss, to begin! I write all my longings in a shaky hand, posted to the wandering bee. 

Saturday, April 10

Doradilla

Do you know the resurrection plant? The false rose of Jericho found tightly wrapped
into a ball that looks like string? They sell them at the side of El Camino Real
next to the corn dolls that look like blank bisque pottery, like my tía in stage makeup
and the lime-green ribbons for folklórico at the bright sunset of each month, skirts whirling, 
eternally crowned with the huge white silk dahlias she loved

as big around your palm that dwarfed the saucers at the cafe I used to haunt. My sun
still rose and set on you, and the afterimage of that dizzying light tasted like the slow
burn of your smile, discretion darker than a summer midnight, sweeter than cafecito 
pouring thick into a paper cup on a counter along the busy Miami streets where
we have never walked together. Not yet.

I do not talk about the drums echoing wildly through the brilliant desert night,
some days I cannot speak at all--but how long can one false rose stay curled
so tightly in on itself that it could be mistaken for something long dead? 
Even in a city of sand and glass, the rain can roll in, thirst can be quenched,
time retrieved from drought's grasping hand.

I rise again and again from my own ashes at your whispered invocation,
the walls I built around my heart spun from moonlight and flax that shiver at a touch,
the green radiating outward, relieving the strain, relaxing each limb.

And Abuelita said: I chose this name because I wanted you to heal,
like tatarabuela, I wanted you to touch the wretched stones that 
rise in each of us and set them to rest the way your eyes dissolved my
aching bones in joy when you laughed at your own birth.

I've always preferred marigolds and the Moon, so I never bought one,
never brought any of them home to rest while
I gently pour water into a hard-baked terracotta dish so I could watch
it unfurl and bless us with so many beginnings.

Saturday, March 27

kshanti

I want to taste the end of days on your skin, I want
to watch your eyes when my breath catches. Tell me
what you see, through the blush? Light descending,
time running out, the thread unwinding? This isn't
safe, it never can be. Stone sparks against water,

a mystery whose price runs high. Always on the edge 
of a conflagration. Still, I want to breathe it in, I 
want to drive those fires into my skin where I fall.
What is the feeling in my kintsugi heart that is not
quite emptiness, the desire to press my face 

against your back as you drift off, the tangible
knowledge of the aching distance we put between
our physical selves? It's no accident we're like this.
Śūnyatā whispers to me just out of reach, pale and

shaking in my hands, my renunciation of desires
forever shredded by this want, this strange and
telescopic love. As if no moment has passed, and
yet as if the end of the world has come and gone.

The resin I used to repair the cracks raises welts
on others' skin. The metal you burnished into my
wounds is all that remains. Mushin--the breaks
are our history. I will not forget, will not taste
the antidote in this life. I'd have you no other way.


Tuesday, March 2

消えないで

my heart is a jackal in the desert night, makes a sound
somewhere between a sob and a peal of laughter,
is fencing the stars, slender silver stabbing against
a backdrop strewn wild and white. I dream the clouds are
swelling over the cliffside, the salt air in my mouth,
I know this. this dream where your face is imprinted
with lines from my pillow. where I place my finger

and trace in blood returning. bread rising in the kitchen,
my pulse is a muffled drum, the same as the breath
dragged from the deepest part of my lungs;

clouds dark against the sunrise,
deep blue streaked with gold and orange and violet
dim in the memory of your hair, the new light reflecting.
and I smell tangerines, I smell jasmine, I smell clove
rising from my own skin. water wants to run, water wants
to fill up your slant-smiling mouth and overflow in words
I salt away.

Sunday, February 17

Kannon

In the beginning, I woke up every day without my teeth clenched
on this scream that would shatter the sky. 
I still wonder if I can ever return

to that quiet land. Amida Butsu, pure land, where no earth is barren, no life or love wasted. Lost, 

sighing wind, pulled recklessly from my shallows. In shadow. I am not her. Only the tears are the same.

Wednesday, April 4

boke-aji

planted, I rot
germinated, then wasted away
here at the end are "wet," "torn," "soiled,"
no words to conjure true magic

I have no arm to raise
no sword to brandish
three times
and fade away

(once) I cannot
(twice) I cannot
(thrice like a charm) I cannot

lay me in the lakebed and bury me in mud and amber beads
close my eyes with pearls, peel back my fingernails
dress me with wheat-holed coins and discarded fish scales
press me into the clay and let me breathe green lake-water

I wish I was anything but this

Saturday, April 30

remote update

A carpet of stars
caught on blue velvet, each grain
faintly glimmering:
impatient, I'm rushing past,
waiting for life to begin.
--

I miss the darkness;
the skies outside the city,
the scent of the wind.
--


Tuesday, January 12

Thesmophoria

It is not right that I cannot pull the ghosts
and wreckage of all that pain out of your hand,
clenched half-closed around a cigarette,
while your lips firm with the idea that I will turn my back.

I cannot say: here is my heart, full of teeth
and bent nails, bound to destroy, bound to reform--
I cannot speak without the rust of tears betraying me.

Give me your hand and let me draw out the cobwebs,
put your palm over my chest full of forge-coals and discarded ore,
touch me and be assured that I know of sorrow,
know of its threads that come loose and tangle,
knot around the tongue.

I cannot say: the stars in their bloody orbits know
that I am unable to walk away from your wounds
with healing held behind my sharp teeth,
ever needing to press my mouth to the cut,

to whisper black ink and snip loose threads,
prayers rising in smoke. I cannot tell you
I can hear your refusal to acknowledge that pain.

You grit your teeth and go on, you turn
your face aside from the only words I have to give.
We are not twins, but mirrored. I do not fear any end
but uselessness.


Friday, November 27

Ananke

These are the flaws that make it mine:
a slanted stitch, a hole, a miscount, a wavering hem
that flows from side to side instead of marching steadily on.

The hands that make these things are as contrary, each
slow shift, each clicking needle a testament to shallow
waters. Each wrist flick, each knuckle crack, a metronome.

Contradiction in every cell. Wide palms and narrow fingers,
spread aslant to pull a thread, to snip or coax just a little farther on.
I cannot weave any longer, but I can cull. Press a finger into the

hollow of this wristbone, press your lips against the pulse that beats
there, grey wings thrashing against a black iron cage, grey wool winding
around ebony needles, grey pinstripes on silk like dark waters.

Slipped stitches, dropped skeins, slow and steady will make no
imperfect thing. Speed alone will kill, rushing headlong into the end.

Knot it tight and move on.