This Skin

This Skin

There are other words I say, but
not today.
This morning, I will say my skin is soft.
I’ll dress you in my arms, my touch is love.
The sunlight brings out hues of deepest sea.
These folds and curves embody earth herself.
My skin contains the vast expanse of me.
Delicate enough to split and bleed.
Strong enough to mend.
Wise enough to scar.
I do not always see my skin this way.
There are other words I say, but
not today.

Tug the Rigging

This poem was inspired by Mary Oliver’s “Don’t Hesitate,” and I shamelessly stole part of her last line – “Joy was never meant to be a crumb.” – for my own.

Tug the Rigging

Tug the rigging, wrap it tight

around your fingers. Pull

the mainsail close to your chest. Catch

every drop of wind. Let

the bow rise. And starboard side.

Rudder and keel emerge, streaming

with ocean. Wipe the salt

from your eyes. Cry out

in fear if you must. Maybe

you spill back into the sea.

Maybe this craft lifts

you closer to your yearnings

than you have ever been.

Later, time for rest and dry land.

Arch your back toward the sun.

Joy was never meant to be a crumb.

Secret Monsters

Was going through my journal and found this ditty from last fall. Such a mood for my whole year, actually.

 

the mistakes we made

we all pretended

the monster wasn’t there, although

we heard the rasping bellows

of her breaths, her cracking

and crunching the bones of animals

that came too close

 

when we walked past

her cave, we didn’t glance in

when the wind blew her scent

to our tea parties, we held our noses

and said the milk was off

 

when she ventured out

and circled the sky

when her great wide wings

blocked out our sun

we said it looked like rain

and called our children out

of the pool

 

a monster would rather

be hunted than ignored

 

Still Alive

 

Still Alive

I like the feeling

of skinny dipping

in the ocean, even when

the salt burns my skin

the waves tumble and bruise

the stones scrape my skin raw

and the jellyfish stings

yes even that

the ocean can be brutal

I might emerge a little broken

I might remember

that broken means still alive

and alive means change

and change means everything

is still possible

Mourning

Mourning

Was it last night I told you

I had some mourning to do

but wasn’t sure

how to do it,

how it would look?

As if mourning

was patient, would make

an appointment. As if mourning

was a rainstorm

that I might prepare for

with galoshes

and a rubber coat.

 

As if grief wasn’t greedy

and didn’t love

to sneak up on a person,

when she thinks she’s safe

miles above the world

in her airplane seat. As if

it wasn’t determined

to swallow her up

to hold her down

while she chokes

on dry pretzels

and sickly sweet apple juice.

 

Was it just last night I told you

I had some mourning to do

but didn’t yet know

how you could help? I’ll let you know,

I said. As if I might simply ask

to borrow an umbrella.

 

 

 

 

 

Little Mystic

oh little mystic
with dimpled elbows
brown curls
and face alight

you bow your head over
your prayer book, a bird
dipping its beak to a puddle
for a cool drink

your mother weeps, imagining
your holy thoughts
your future as rabbi

I’m moved, too, by the holy in you —
then you meet my gaze
with lopsided smile and
a look of faraway mischief

you’re praying to the god
of cookies and comic books
you’re thinking of the lollipop
peeking out of your pocket

and you, with your devotions,
are holier than ever
I shake with laughter, until I cry
through murmured prayers
of joy and gratitude

 

Vibrations

The tuning fork
is a rudimentary tool.
I could say the science
has something to do
with frequency of sound waves
that create a phenomenon
the human ear interprets
as pitch.

But all I really know
is when we hit a thing
so hard it trembles
and hums,
I’d better listen,
and adjust my instrument
accordingly.

Secrets, Free and Wild

Secrets, Free and Wild
It’s true that some won’t love you.
But I will.
You, crouched in the dark.
You, with mirror eyes.
Waiting. Watching. Wanting to be safe.
The coast might never be clear.
Yet here I am. Here we are.
Let’s brush the dust from your hair.
Let’s put on something sparkly.
Drop that haunted expression.
My dear, let’s do the haunting.
And the dancing, and we’ll make
our own safety. Not in dim
corners, but in each other’s
arms, shielded from the sting
of shame and other bullets.
It’s true that some don’t love you.
But I do.
And I choose to live, with you.
We two, a pair of secrets,
free and wild.

Woman Seeking Storm

A Personal Ad: WSS

Woman seeking storm
to crackle
to shake
to blast
and to break
the smug sky apart

Woman seeking lightning
to flash and burn
her retinas until she
sees with her eyes closed

Seeking thunder
to crash and pour
its drumbeat rumble into
her ears so nothing else fits

Seeking rain
to soak and saturate
the skin from the outside in
to soften the heart
and make it fertile ground
as once it was

 

We Monsters

 

We Monsters

 

No one kisses the witch.

For the witch cares nothing

about the innocent, the sacred.

She’ll steal a baby like it

was a loaf of bread. She takes

a plate of warm, beating heart

with her afternoon tea.

 

No one loves a villain. No.

A villain tosses poisoned apples

and hairpins like playthings. Curses spill

from her lips like songs,

and, anyway, she’ll be gone

by the end.

 

No one holds us monsters,

we who kill with a glance, or a swipe

of the claw. We travel by night,

cloaked in solitude. We hide

our unnatural faces,

even from ourselves.

 

We witches, we villains, we dragons,

we thieves. We monsters.

We wait for you to arrive,

armed with righteousness and pickaxes.

We know, we deserve this,

to meet our end as you

dispense correct justice.

We burn. We drown.

Our heads roll, like overripe fruit, at your

feet.

 

Yet some of us will live.

We’ll slink back into our cold caves,

sharpen our knives by the dying light of embers.

We’ll get what we need.

If it means someone has to bleed,

so be it.