the white socks giggle on your mother’s clothesline
my heart is sore, tender as a child
a breeze slips through my bones and frees me
we walk nowhere through the park and I wonder if my body will ever love
the thing it knows it has. I feel unoccupied; I feel less than numbness
I am vacated.
the ceiling fan drones like a plane flying over the Atlantic
I close my eyes, it soars over me while I float
like a dead ant in a jar of lemonade
when I close my eyes you are here
stalks of bodies roam my father’s backyard
regret weighs down the clouds
they laugh a little too loud, I think, and
the man in the corner plays a phil collins song that I hate
on a cheap keyboard, they smile through clenched teeth
white knuckles wrapped around clinking drinks
stones glitter on bloodless hands,
and I don’t even know anyone’s name.
my uncle says he wishes my cousin and I could get married
and I want to rip out his eyes.
we sat at the kitchen table and you told me stories about dementia
that she could no longer tell the difference between real people
and reflections in the mirror
I’m not very good at this, she said, this so long. this farewell. I’m too pink. too impressionable. your fingers leave marks like craters on my skin.
and when you leave I am sore.
I don’t know how to go. especially from you, my heart
because you became the sun.
now you are a hot red stamp seared into my forehead.
and here I am, orbiting loyally ‘round you
in a perfect ring just far enough to sustain life.
treading cold airless space.
I have resigned myself to loving you,
if I have to I’ll let you float down and down
into the rivers between my organs.
I think I can manage this, I think I can hold you in my mind.
my brain is sturdy enough, she said,
but the guy in charge is a little strange.
he’s got one glass eye and no front teeth
and he’s been the butt of one too many jokes.
The last one really got him. paying at the gas station one morning
he overheard them.
53 cents fell to the floor and he ran. and ran.
and ran until he couldn’t see anymore, until everything was white.
before him the guys were mostly useless, their days spent wandering around the dusty site, the dry sun picking at their bones. together they’ve built quite the team.
sometimes i want to use my tiny hands to crush you until you love me. until you give me what I need. but that’s just the architect talking. that’s not love. because I know, when all I see is the outline of your shadow moving in the grass. you call to me. and I don’t know how to leave you.
sometimes I want to break and I can’t, she said.
sometimes I want to collapse, I want to cave in
but I am too well-made. this darn flesh clings to my bones.
I wish they would stop falling in love with me.
I wish they could see, I wish they could see through me, through
the pillowy meat packed into my torso, to hands folded delicate behind my back
like a dumpster behind a hospital overflowing with roses of yellowed gauze
I interlace my rotten fingers.
I do not bloom.
If only they could see me at night, like a seething racoon I
dig and I eat my way to the bottom of __________________________
gluttonous, paranoid, twitching; I gnaw at the world in an apple
my eyes burn white with oblivion.
You do not love all of me because you can’t see, like we’re sailing in the black waters of Lethe and I am the woman with the swollen calves who sits on the steps of our church; the paralysis, the visions that charm me; Johnny right now in his grave, his black face in the morning.
I wish they would let me be, but I can’t turn a corner in this city
without bumping into someone I’ve loved or someone who loves me
the millions of arms all fighting to hold me, like tentacles, I wish they would let me be. leave me to scuttle about the floor of the sea, where they’ve forgotten about light where I have no bones, but I am made of claws and meat, where the skin grows over my teeth.
the water runs rushing down me, flooding over me, coursing into me. crystals of ocean, unfrozen atoms of lake rising to the sky; where vapour swells into white, swirling into a soft grey blanket separating us from the sun. that place underneath the sun and in between the grey is where I’d like to live.
the cloud sighs, he breaths in, like when you inhale so deeply your stomach expands. the atoms continue to rise. more of the clouds start to breathe, they grow heavy, drenched, soaked through as things are and the seam of the sky rips open, the world empties itself out. onto us. it pours over us. the cold water runs down my body, over my eyelids and from my mouth into yours. I want to pull myself out and pour into you. [DESCRIBE WETNESS OF WATER.]
your breathe on my skin rises.
I don’t know why I can’t shake you. I don’t know what to say. I don’t know where you go. I can go a couple weeks, a couple months even. I shove you down and out and away. For awhile it seems like you’ve disappeared, like you are finally gone. I can breathe. I smile from ear to ear. I think it’ll be okay. it’s alright. but then there is this nag, this ache, this crawling feeling under my skin. it comes one morning, barely, but it’s there. I try and get it out at first it seems harmless but it grows and nothing works and it gets stronger every morning it gets stronger until it gets so bad that I want to peel off my skin just to hide from you. but you’ve been here all along, hiding in my walls. now it feels like you are ripping me open from the inside, like you are climbing up my rib cage and suffocating my heart and clawing through my skin to reach the surface. I don’t want you to get to the surface. I don’t want you to touch oxygen. I don’t want you to grow. but I don’t want you to live inside me anymore. so claw through me, tear me open, rip me apart, pour out of me. but when you reach the surface, when you take your first breath and I am once again a pile of skin on the floor, please don’t come back.
1. your hands. your hands that move endlessly. fingers drum the table, you search for something, anything to say, anything to quell the pressure that seeps out from the gaps between our conversations. air filled with wanting. I think about small tasks your hands perform. pull out cigarettes, lock doors. your hands have a sureness about them that I’ve never felt before, never known. resolved;
2. but with me always hesitant. bound to your sides by reason, shoved down into your pockets. you laugh, nervous, press your palms together and look up at me. I want to tell you not to worry, I want to tell you I feel safe, I want to tell you that I like where we are but my lips won’t let me for fear of what my hands will do and so the words pile up behind my eyes as they meet yours. worn hands.
3. I think about everything they have touched. the cold underside of an unused pillow, dirt on the nails of forgotten strangers. earth. everything but me.
i ate a piece of chocolate cake tonight. i ate a piece of chocolate cake and i’m going to think no different of myself. i am still whole, i am still here, still okay. i ate a piece of chocolate cake tonight, and i will wash my hands, wash my face, get into bed. nothing will have changed. i ate a piece of chocolate cake and i will continue about my night. i will brush my teeth, comb my hair and be grateful for all that i have been given. i will think about the way my mother sounded on the phone, her smile that i could hear. i will think about the beautiful, broken girl that sat across from me and how i wished i could take her pain away, faster. how mesmerizing is the heart. i ate a piece of chocolate cake tonight and in the morning i will wake up, eat my breakfast and be grateful for all that i have been given.
I feel like air.