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.

Friday, October 9

wheat and cherries and the world's turning

if you missed me, here is what is happening lately:

"In the tundra, yellow grasses waving goodbye to the warm seasons. Marya Ivanova, grandfather's Masha, Mashenka, trudges over camouflaged hills in winter boots, fur wrapped inside, close tied with leather straps. She is heading to the cool slate forest, stamping down gold seedheads and silver tassels. Masha, Mashenka, Marya Ivanova is walking in autumn to the end of the world."

ded maroz and snegurochka are sneaking in through autumn skies to haunt my dreams and press out of me a harvest of words. it's proserpine and the descent of inanna, godfather death and love like salt, kore and the gears that shift the world. see you on the other side.

Saturday, September 26

Labyrinth

Sometimes, you sit on the floor of the shower and breathe steam until you can cry. Sometimes you breathe steam so you can go back to breathing air. Sometimes, you chew your nails to rags and avoid looking at the razor hanging on the wall.

You can sleep for twenty hours a day. You can sleep for twenty minutes. You can feel the panic-rat scuttling around the corners of your mind, digging in with its surprisingly adorable claws until the chest pains begin.

You go for days, weeks, months at a time, in recovery, feeling strong and capable and positive about where you are headed in life; feeling the old power rising in you whenever you say no. Whenever you say yes. Whenever you say what you really want instead of temporizing, hedging because you are worried about what the inquiring person will think.

And it's okay, when you make it through these days, even if you wake up the next unable to breathe or think or see, even if you did it to yourself, trying to re-educate your brain on the subject of abuse. It's going to be okay. Some days, it is not okay. And that is fine, too.

But in every minute and every breath, there is the possibility of fear rising in you. Irrational and rough and blood-warm, or acid, or colder than you've ever felt before. At any given moment, you are vulnerable to surprise, to the wrong word, to a stray thought or idea. You fear being brittle, or too inflexible, too pliable. Too broken.

You are not broken. You are going to be okay. Even on the days you are overwhelmed by all this feeling? We get through. One breath at a time. One step. One word.

Every part of you is a victory. You have breathed steam and air, you have given tears and thought and time. You have eaten, you have hydrated and rested. You have not cut. You maybe cut only a little. You thought very seriously about hurting yourself and decided against it? You win. It is okay to make mistakes, and you will. Because progress is not a straight line, or a race, or a contest.

Every time you think, "It could have been me," you can also remember: You are still here. You are important. You are alive and you matter and you will, eventually, leave all this behind for whatever you want of normality.

Leaving things behind is not bad, or heartless, or cruel. It can be necessary to breathe steam instead of smoke, more oxygen than nitrogen. Leaving things behind can be a necessity. You can still remember with love, but you do not have to carry them with you.

I am not a role model, I am only stubborn. I sit on the floor of the shower and cry, and I have to remember to breathe, and I think, "it could have been me."

But it wasn't. And I do not think I will ever allow it to be.


Saturday, September 19

pour encourager les autres

when the razor skips over thin skin
and blood wells up,
falling on the shower floor like rain,

you never notice.

like whiskey in a parched throat,
the pulse and burn
of ink pooled on your stomach,
black and spangled with light,

scarlet footprints on dark carpet,
a stubbed toe, cracked nail weeping

camouflaged tears.
the stain is still there, hidden,

until one day it disappears,
that secret piece of you,
and you never notice at all.