But My Aching Bones and Time

My back is stiff and thick, yet strong, but no stronger than my resolve.
Even under the wiry wool, faded from infrequent use, I shiver.
When did it shrink?
A sound?
No just the shift, the groan of the house, cracking his back.
Our load is heavy; he tires from the weight of our secrets.
Made deaf, my ears ring in the silence.
My mouth moves with words I should have spoken. I’ll remember them the next time.
A creak on the stairs where his feet should fall.
They don’t.
He sleeps. A restful, dreamless sleep.
When I’m not there and here he spreads out. His breathing softens. He is at peace.
I am stiff and awake, my resolve as strong as it ever was.
To what end?
He won’t chase. He never chases.
Tomorrow will come. He will ask,
“What time did you come to bed?”
I will shift, my neck stiff from the company of the couch.
A couch not meant for sleeping.
“I slept on the couch,” I offer pointedly.
George sighs heavily, choosing absently from his list of platitudes.
“I Apologize.”
My back aches.
“I shouldn’t have said/done that.” Always “that.”
That covers a host of misdemeanors.
Snide remark. That. Ignored conversation. That.
Absence. That covers that, too.
I ran, I want to point out. Why didn’t you chase me?
That doesn’t quite cover that.
That is the blanket. Made too small. I haven’t grown.
I’ve aged. The blanket has aged.
Made weaker, even though I feign strength.
Back bent, even though I pretend it isn’t bruised.
The blanket, we are similar. Rendered naked and bare.
Time has made a mockery of both of us.
Again, the couch. He sleeps.
In the morning–“what time did you come to bed?”
In the end, nothing to show for my troubles but my aching bones and time.

Unsettling the Dust

We try dinner by candlelight.
Blindly I reach up

Feeling the space—please god let that be dust—until my fingers scrape the skeletal chill of the Candelabra.
A family heirloom, his mother said.
She forgot to remove the tag. 19.99 at Kohl’s. I kept it as a memento.
Your mom is full of shit, did you know?
He didn’t.
The candles are harder to find, the wax built up over the wick.
Blindly I scrape it down, dancing around George.
“Did you want to help with dinner,” he muses absently.
He knows I don’t. I don’t reply.
I can’t see the forks, but if I could I wouldn’t know which side of the plate to place them.
They are similar, so similar. Disturbing in their uniformity.
“Don’t forget your salad,” George murmurs, scraping it onto the plate.
“Should they touch? Isn’t there a separate plate for this? Isn’t there protocol for this kind of thing?“
He stares away from me.
“Don’t you wonder whose idea it was to place those white chunks of iceberg in there? Who eats that? Nobody even eats that!”
George eats it, now.
The roast is burnt.
He has removed the wine from the dinner table. From the kitchen and from the table.
My throat feels dry in its absence.
We contemplate prayer but I can’t remember the words.
Neither can he.
We fill the space awkwardly with words we won’t remember.
I open my mouth to speak—something profound, I’m certain.
And the candle blows out.
And the lights come back on.
Perhaps our words were a prayer?
We nod stiffly at each other, gathering our plates silently.
Moving from the table to the living room. Our legs touch.
He relaxes.
I relax.
Later I replace the candelabra, careful not to unsettle the dust.

I Never Breathe In Winter

My lungs have not expanded in an age.
The first leaf–barely brittle, a baby really–fell (even before we were abandoned by the sun and our warmer nature) and the inhalation began. I withdrew; spread out and all at once.
“So I’ll water the plants then?” George asked in his pretentious not-really-asking-but-making-an-obvious-statement fashion.
I let the curtain fall back and shrugged my answer. “It’s up to you.”
They died anyway. I knew they would.
He didn’t. He breathes all the time.
My breath tightened with the inhalation, the uptake, but it held. Blue-white flecks of powdery snow clung to my lashes like frozen leeches, determined to steal what I have left.
I peered past them, searching vainly for sun.
The chill is deadening, freezing my hollow chest.
It is Winter and I am graveyard cold all the time.
It becomes too much–everything is too much.
George doesn’t make eye contact, but I can’t think about that. I only have eyes for the sky.
We are breaking in the bitter cold, the pieces of us deadening and falling away.
And then Spring. The ascent is fast and deafening, upon us without giving us the chance to catch our bearings.
I gasp as I take it in.
My lungs expand, clear of the presence of dead things–only for an age, but it seems as if it will be enough.
We traverse the garden together, picking through all the little broken things. Finding the tiny nubs, the green where we can make something grow. Winter is at our backs and low in the distance. Too far for our minds to reach.
We celebrate the occasion, promise to stay this way, just like this, perfect like this for forever.
We won’t.
Winter comes again.

black girl, a comprehensive definition from the american english dictionary

Black Girl: noun


longing to be longed for

to touch, and be touched

to leave the in-between

the intermediate space

the place of being and not being.


The disembodied filaments of my Undesired Oversexed self

Uneven fragments cast back from the mirror

Made glass by Them,

Unseen and seen all the time.

I am a token to pull from 

Their pockets;

When confronted with the

Truth of themselves they brandish

The lie of me.

Visible solely in one dimension, the 

Not Like Those. 


I am “pretty for a black girl”

Only a black girl, and only-black-girl is not enough

They don’t “see color” when they see me

“Inside we are all the same.”

Also, I am “well-spoken,” unlike the

Bad Ones. I am Not Like Those.


Black Girl: adjective


Longing to be desired in whole

But instead, devoured piecemeal

The White-Mindedness (noun: that all encompassing state of 

White Overlap, where all of the Not Black things go

When they don’t fit into the Black body), 

The voice, the innate—that belongs to Them,

They take it, attribute it to themselves.


But the body?

Nose. Breasts. Hair. Lips. Hips. Eyes. Feet.

The body must stay.


Black Girl: noun


To be hated and feared.

The bar below which no one in the world dares fall.

The bar that rests on my shoulders.

Shoulders required to be strong, stepped on

To remind me that I am weak.

I am a black girl. I know these truths from birth.

A shared memory, they rest in my shattered brain.

For my daughters, my babies, my

Beautiful Black girls,

This will be their truth, also.


I chose you. 

Not because of your rigidity

or the lie of your countenance,

the falsehood of many worlds traveled:

Your feigned Otherness. 


I looked inside you

and Discovered your


I liked it.

I like it.


I am awakened by the potential, the way you might

Fall apart

In My Hands.

I can fill you with me

Then tear you apart and fill you to the brim


I chose you.

all the little broken things

I’ve lost it,
My mind.
Gone, through one of those cracks–
A hairline fracture,
Invisible to the naked eye–
That company isn’t allowed to see.
I left it caged, gave it instructions
“Don’t think.”

If I kept it caged,
Only gave it minute amounts of
Attention (don’t want to spoil it)
If ignored it–
“I said don’t think about that”
Maybe not it, but rather,
That shameful thing it does. . .

the wandering.
Focusing for too long on
Dark places,
Wondering about its own existence.
Fretting, stewing,
Breaking free from its cage,
Shattering the cracks so often
They are made holes on the surface now.

I’ve lost it.
My mind.
In spite of the cage,
And chains,
The instructions!
It broke through
And left me.

I’ll wait, but I doubt that that
Broken thing
Should ever return.