You should have gotten yourself a dog. No, really. I mean it. Instead of chasing me Until you caught me. What you thought you’d found, When you found me— And that’s what you wanted me to be— A rescued dog— Full of gratitude and loyalty for the perceived rescue. With no record or memory of previous owners, Ah, an extremely important part. A wagging tail at every word or look from you. Sitting at attention, waiting patiently for you. Desperate for any command you should happen to give. Dutifully complying with each command, each wish You should ever express. No friends, no family, no loves. No needs Other than you and to serve you. That is what you wanted That is what you needed— In your own words— To be my number one at all times. After all, no one would love me better. No one would give me a better home, As you so lovingly liked to remind me. Next time get a dog. She’ll feed your ego better.
Image from lostgirlmyths.wikia.com
I dreamed of you the other night.
A dream in color and complete.
We both know I rarely remember dreams.
But this one I awoke from—fresh
With that it felt so real feeling.
Imagine my surprise
when I realized
this dream hadn’t dripped from reality.
We sat, it seemed, at some café
In Dallas or Houston,
Or perhaps, we were strolling
The streets of Provincetown,
Walking across the Golden Gate,
Hiking some trail up a Colorado mountain,
Riding the subway of Manhattan,
Driving the traffic jams of Baltimore or
Los Angeles. Perhaps, we watched the whales
Out on the Pacific or maybe it was the Atlantic.
For in the dream, the background shifted like
A chalk drawing on the pavement in a rainstorm,
The colors bleeding, fading, sliding into one another
The way we used to do.
The place doesn’t matter, in the grand scheme
And all, of any such dream.
You talked away as you always did,
Leaving me no room to breathe
Or even catch enough air to say a word,
Squeezing the freedom from my soul.
Your eyes glowed, shining sapphires with no rain.
Your golden bleached hair blowing wild in dream wind.
Your words twisted, tangled in on themselves,
Doing a contortionist’s dance,
Snaking their way into my ears and on toward
The inner working of my heart and brain,
Slithering under the door to my soul.
Once there, your words tried to bite away,
Injecting some poison into my heart, my brain, my soul
To twist me into saying all the things
You wanted me to say–
All the things your ego needed—
Like that oppressive August afternoon
When you argued nonsense to get me to say
I was to blame and beg to stay.
I never knew a slither of words
Could slide and twirl so many ways
like those ribbons of a gymnast, circling this way and that.
As you saw a snaking pattern wasn’t working so well,
I watched your frustration rise.
Your back straightened even more so.
Your eyes narrow almost microscopically,
Your thin lips disappear completely.
I woke then, laughing.
I think I startled my dog.
I laughed again—
To think the last few days I had been missing you—
To think I had once thought you beautiful as a goddess–
Even wrote Botticelli and Byron got it wrong.
Now I see Medusa
When I think of you.
It’s a bloody wonder I, myself, am not stone,
But the well of my hope is another matter.
The lies we tell ourselves
Such sparkling things.
Belief needed in the moment–
See diamonds, rubies, sapphires,
Gold, treasures to cherish.
Let the mirror reflect
The lies to eyes
In needing desire.
Do not hold them in harsh sun.
To withstand such blazing light.
Gently bury them deep
Beneath the soil
Of a needing heart
And the damp decay
Of foolish wants.
Let the lies take root
Growing into the very soul.
We tell ourselves,
The truth at bay,
As the lies grow
The rot of hopelessness
Into our very souls.
My daughter, at twenty-one, stands to my right.
The gentleman to my left turns to light my candle.
I do not know him, in that moment he is a friend.
I turn to my daughter, and with the small flame of my candle,
Light the candle she holds.
I lift my eyes to look upon her face and I know.
I feel it within me. A tiny spark jumps back
As I think of my own mother and wonder.
Did she ever look at me and feel that light, that flame inside?
Feel that spark of her soul live inside me?
It matters not what I have left undone:
No trip to Paris, No months spent living in Europe,
No books published, Nothing I wish for is important.
Nothing I long for matters to be lived, matters to be accomplished.
I have accomplished all that truly matters
And I can be at peace with any death
My daughter lives.
Remember whispered intimations
In the time before sleep.
Having faced down the hours
Of another day of what must be done,
How long will it take before
Forgetfulness wipes the whispers away
Of well-intentioned comfort
Along with any memory
Of facades presented but to a few
Who knew the truth?
Until then, stumble onward
Facing the intimidation
Of a blank page,
Smash a soul against it.
Read the splatters left
And know time is the matter.
Time, neither too fast, nor too slow
Can it pass before realizing
Nothing really mattered,
But the kindness
Never could breathe
When in your air.
You, your perfume,
Or something in the scent of you
Clogged my nose,
My bronchial tubes
With fluid like cement,
Leaving me no air
To live on.
Never felt so sweet.
You were warmth personified
Like fire you fed on the oxygen
Whenever you wanted,
Wherever you were.
But God, it felt like heaven
To warm myself near your flames.
Until it felt like hell
And I burned in the flames,
Sucking in nothing but smoke.
Now, from the ashes,
I rise and breathe.
I know the air.
I’d take my steak
Well done only,
Extra dead, I’d say.
having been taught,
Palette educated years ago,
I’ll take my steak
Extra moo, I say
Raw if I could,
I say with a smile,
The tang of iron upon the tongue.
Swallow down fibrous chunks
of bloody muscle
Wash down all reproach
With the tinny taste
This was written after I completed a five mile hike and then picked up a volume of Elizabeth Bishop's poetry to enjoy once again on a sunny afternoon. My answer to Bishop's poem, One Art.
In this thing called losing, Bishop said we become masters And that losing isn’t a disaster. No, Not a disaster. Losing socks and such stuff. I’ve lost earrings, bracelets, Expensive ones too, didn’t care Beyond maybe a minute or two. And no pain beyond a stab of nostalgia Did I have upon saying goodbye To three houses and two cities. And yes, it was no disaster To bury my mother, A father who really wasn’t, The man who really was, First one brother, then the other, Then lastly, a wife. With each, my body and soul Savaged by a hurricane, catastrophic, yes. But no, no disaster. Except perhaps, yes, I’ll admit, A tiny bit of soul eroded From the waves of each hurricane Breaking over me as I buried each. And nothing, nothing did I master. Except, maybe this— I did not look for them Since they were gone, Emptied of this earth. Now, there is you and I look for you In everything I do-- Every sunset Every sunrise Every in between time. I look for you in strangers, In cars I pass along the street. I look for you at festivals, In films I see. I look for you in places, In the sky of Ruidoso, In bars, In restaurants, In the eyes of strangers, I look for you. I look for you in all this. And in this thing Called losing, In which I am well-schooled, As are we all, I have tried to make an art, To make an art of all this loss. Yes, this may be no real disaster, But Bishop lied. There is no art in losing, No art at all, That I can find to master.
Truths we’d rather not see
Raked into the compost,
Used to feed vines,
A soul stilled
in one place.
I read Every word, every sentence of you; I memorized paragraphs Of you. I found warmth In the chapters Of you; My lips whispered the words Of you As if they read sacred incantations. My fingers tenderly turned each page Of you, Missing you upon turning to your last. But finding joy Upon turning once more To your first page, Reading you, Discovering you, All over and over again.