Mother

bathe me

clothe me

steady my timid feet

before I till the soil

and plant my own garden

 

someday I will

bathe you

clothe you

steady your feeble feet

and lead you

back to the garden

so you can rest

 

5-10-20

Periphery

Tired

the kind of tired

where even your ribs ache

from holding it in

 

I breeze through a cemetery

where dandelions push

their blonde heads

toward the sun

to remind us

that life goes on

 

Even though I am not ready to move on

I have already watched you fade

into the old you and grieved

at the foot of a stranger’s plot

 

I am tired of losing you

So I leave you here, where I can visit

and remember the times when your eyes

kept me in focus

and forget the times when

they pushed me

into the periphery

 

5-10-20

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

If

It is no longer when

but if

I’ll ever see you again

 

Nothing is guaranteed

so I cuddle the dog

and stare at the pregnant neighbor

as I wash the dishes

 

I wonder what it’s like

to bring new life into a dying world

She rakes the soil

to prepare for spring

and waits

for the birth of a new chapter

 

On gray days,

I think of the sun laden afternoons

in Yellow Creek

before I jumped ship

and learned to love a new town

and every man who would let me

 

The uncertainty was thrilling,

but this time it’s different

 

it’s grief-soaked and lonely

and infinite and screams if

until I forget there ever was a when

 

All I know today is I love you

If and when and always

 

4-23-20

Crumbling

Our thighs graze on the couch and I reach for your arm

The senator speaks through a lens and my eyes well

The world is crumbling and so am I,

and here is someone who says it’s ok to crumble,

just not to give up

 

Later, we pop a bottle of Eight Barrel Syrah

and dance to Billy Joel in our sweatpants

And I think of all the times we’ve crumbed

but haven’t given up

And of all the beauty we would miss

if we were so focused on ourselves

 

The world is weeping together now

maybe something will change

 

4-9-20

Patience

Dodging passersby like bullets,

my feet clap against the concrete

and leave invisible prints,

a timestamp of sweat,

 

I was here

 

But so were you

You linger in the breeze like pollen

 

Everything is shared now, even apart

Sometimes we hold our breath

because the air can kill us

 

We fill our lungs with patience

to keep them from collapsing

and make a wish,

even though there are no candles

and we can’t exhale

 

4-6-20

Shortness of breath

four walls

one breath

circulating endlessly

 

I can’t catch it,

even in good health

 

maybe it’s knowing

that you will die

that I will die

that someone I know will die

 

maybe it’s the rent

or utilities

or hard rain falling

on the bedroom window

when I’m nearly asleep

 

maybe it’s knowing

that we have no way out

 

you pace in circles

until the vinyl is worn

 

you wallow in nostalgia

until your cheeks are wet

and you tell me you texted her

because you worry

 

but you don’t worry about PPE

or the local nursing home

or the diabetic who raised me

 

you worry about her,

and ask “how is business?”

while she’s on a date,

vacationing in another state

 

as if there was never a virus

and we were never a factor

 

then you ask me why I’m quiet

and I say the oxygen is thin

(I want to share it, not fight for it)

 

3-29-20

 

 

 

 

 

 

Once was

Cells pumping in veins

like Texas oil,

thick and black as night,

red as waning sunlight

 

then the peace of disappearing hope

and the stagnant warmth of stillness

 

It hangs on me like dead skin–

an extra layer of once was,

the dichotomy of rain and rust,

and everything that should be

but isn’t

 

and everything that will be

but shouldn’t

 

01-30-20

Optical Illusion

The sun glints in the rear view

and spotlights a trash bag in the back seat

 

My eyes are pierced by a flash of white

and I mistake the bag for an intricate cobweb,

a creature’s hard-fought work of art

 

When my pupils adjust, it’s only plastic

and I wonder if I could ever see beauty

where there is garbage,

if I could ever look back and see boxes

filled with treasure and laughter

instead of mismatched socks and uncertainty

 

I’ve learned how to pack properly

how to fold clothes neatly

how to separate the pots from the pans

how to throw out tired utensils

but I can’t throw out the tired memories

no matter how much they exhaust me

 

I heard once that men are compartmentalizers.

They can tuck information into filing cabinets

and store them in the recesses of their brains

and control when anything is retrieved

 

But I am a [insert derogatory reference to psyche] woman

so when I see a cardboard box, my neurons scream

“abort, abort!” and suddenly I am 8 years old

and everyone is screaming

and we have two weeks to leave

 

and I don’t know where we’re going

 

and I don’t know if we’ll be together again.

 

People tell me not to look back

as if it’s a matter of fact,

as if it’s a decision you can make

even when the sun is behind you

and you can’t see what’s ahead.

 

Then and now and later are a blur

of here and there and fact and fiction,

but I finally realize it’s an optical illusion,

so I’m not running away.

 

01-06-20

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Hard Work

Robin Hood, the wayfaring thief that fed the hungry,

has disappeared like the humanity

that prompted him in the first place

Friar Tuck tried to save the poor,

but the rich have always claimed

their full pockets are God’s blessings

Hard Work pays off, they say,

and pays no taxes

Hard Work pays no mind

to the misty eyes of the beggar

or the sex worker or the addict

Because Jesus made his choice

If only they could see,

Jesus was more of a Robin Hood

than a billionaire

 

11-19-19

 

 

 

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