the wake

She proclaims him beautiful

Like an angel, sleeping,

A soft contented smile

Draped like plaster on his lips. 

.

To me he smells sick and wet,

Like dead flowers decaying in the marsh

They found him in,

The anchor wound tight around his neck,

Eyes gone,

Bowels spilled,

The world entire empty of him,

As he willed it. 

.

I wonder how his hurt felt. 

Did it blister like mine,

And bubble up, the pus

Seeping out and clinging to him like

Maggots feasting on his decaying parts?

Was the pain of leaving meant to

Tip the scale

So the pain of staying 

Would feel less like suffocating 

Than pulling the lever 

And excusing himself?

.

I wonder if there was ever a note,

Tear stained words stitched together

Saying nothing;

An oft composed letter

That he could not bear to jot down 

Because they would think him weak,

And to name his pain

Was to pass it,

And the strong carry the pain

Until they stoop and slide into the grave

Broken by its weight. 

.

I wonder if he measured time

By the numbered days he gave himself

To breathe the breaths he wanted,

And feel the sun he wanted,

And hear the laughter he wanted,

And perhaps they would think of this

And not his absence. 

He would give everything 

For a small one

Or none at all—

Just a place for himself.

Different.

.

A mind not filled with black

And longing

And eternal despair;

A space he must measure in sleeping

His only peace in dreams,

Or dreamless slumber:

For the days are overwhelmed with wanting

And there is no more room for joy—

And what if this is catching?

She proclaims him beautiful. 

.

Perhaps at last he is. 

Untitled

I have a part of you that you do not know to miss.

You have lived a life

Without me—

Plump with inside jokes and secrets and

Sorrows and shared scars;

Sweet with remembrances of

Moments knitted together by their

Seeming insignificance;

Exuberant birthdays and warm holidays and

Mistakes and triumphs;

Words of wisdom and silences

Bereft of meaning.

Long days and short years and pieces of

Yourself and moments of your life

Given away without question.

You give way to the blind, unfeeling grip

Of Time: it pulls you from your own mind

Replacing you like a puzzle

Unknown and missing too many pieces;

Though you have lost that which made you

You will not replace the empty spaces

With me.

I have of you your eyes:

Obsidian and wide with small wrinkles in the corners

And perceiving every hurt.

In the mirror I see you and I am broken with the want,

And in those shameful

Moments I am still a child

Waiting: for jokes and secrets

and moments and birthdays

and promised cake and cards

and your love.

I have your eyes but I lack your love,

And you have lived

A full life without me.

found

You can not exist. Today I read a story in the paper; a pair of human remains was found in the creek where me and The Boy used to play.
They are–they were children.
Someone wrote about it online, and another someone wrote , “praying for God’s peace.”
What peace?
I hear that you work in mysterious ways–but I do not think you work at all.
My skin is brown, the brown of coffee and earth. My eyes are brown, the deep mahogany of soil. My hair coils from my scalp and reaches up towards where they said you are.
And people hate me. They hate this skin that you gave me and the eyes that I have only ever had to watch for you and the hair that can only be tamed if I strip it down bare and constrain it.
What are you, that you should watch them kill The Boy, that I should listen to them besmirch him and make him unworthy of justice, that his blood should spill and no one should clean it?
Someone wrote about it online, and another someone wrote, “praying for god’s peace.”
What peace?
You can not exist. Today I passed a man with a cardboard sign; the smudges on it read, “homeless veteran, please help.” I wondered about you, then, now where is your hand, to stop him from falling this low?
What are you doing while they pray? Why do you still not answer?
You can not exist. You can not see me, weeping for The Boy and praying for peace which will never be ours, looking forward to justice in this world because there is surely no next.
If you were there I would hate you. You made me this and you left me and you let them kill me and let me starve and you wouldn’t show yourself to me and you were silent and I could not find peace.

Twin

She speaks of beauty that I will never know.
She reached her peak before I could know her, scars made by their non-existence deep and craggy with bruises that only she could know.
Even now what was looms in the shadows, the whole of Them stretched beyond the limits of the city.
She is kept awake by what she lost;
I can only ever know her
In pieces,
For she gazes back unblinking
into the past that I remember from afar
A past that will not be ours.

From the safety of afar I mourned her loss but it was not mine and she would not share it.
She revisits the place without me.
Upon her return a piece of her is absent,
Alms left in the ever-burning embers, offering herself, a promise–
She has not forgotten.
From my distance I wonder what they were, if they were what she remembers
Gorgeous. Strong.
In their injury and hurt and in the silence they have made
Beauty is.
I marvel that they were, in more than memory and hushed whispers.
When she speaks of them it is as if they stand again–
Their souls are not lost
They boast their possibility again
And I can see them near the shore–

Then they are gone, away into the past that she sees without me
I must subsist on her memory of them.
She speaks of beauty that I will never know.

nests

I was twelve when I knew
That I was dying.
Not then.
But One Day.
A game we played spread blood
Across the screen, angry white
You Lose covering the poorly rendered body.
A three pronged controller slipped from my fingers and yanked me from childhood
And I knew.
Don’t think about it, were my mothers well intentioned words.
You can’t stop the birds from flying over your head but you can stop them from
Making a nest.
She told me to pray.
The God that loved her never spoke to me
But at twelve I begged him.
I begged him to stop the birds flying.
They did not.
They became a part of me and they were silent
For awhile.

When I was one and twenty they attacked again
And I knew that I was dying
And I felt the squeezing in my chest
And the lightening of my body
And I watched myself
And them
And they stared.
And I was crazy.
And she laughed
And I wasn’t praying enough.
And I couldn’t stop the birds from flying but I could stop them making a nest.

Demons, she said.

Six years later
They have come again
And I am older and weaker
And I have tried to stop them.
I have not given them a home
But they are there besides.
I’m afraid I’m losing it, I tell her, and she does not ask what it is. I want her to.
I want her to tell me that I won’t be this way always.
That I’ll grow out of it.
That I’ll hear Him talk to me.
That he’ll speak and I’ll be better.
That he’ll be real.
That I’ll exist always.

She laughs at the memory of the first time. Remembering how they stared.
How embarrassed she was.

“You can’t stop the birds from flying,” she says, as I disappear into myself. “But you can stop them from building a nest.”

lost

Tattered and torn and more empty sack than stuffed bear he fell behind the bed, snagged in the space between the coldness of the bed and the sterile emptiness of the wall, stuffed deep into the shadow place where monsters dwelled.
Lost. We didn’t find him until I had forgotten that the emptiness was for him. 

Svelte and slinky and more strip of cloth than dress it landed behind the machine, in the place where socks hide and favorite sweaters shrink, where the nonessential elements of what wears us dwells.
Lost. I didn’t find it until I had grown out of the desire to be the girl whose name I cannot remember. 

Gorgeous and grotesque and more kaleidoscope than man he crawled into the me of yesterday, the one with the kohl darkened eyes and blood red lips with space in my tortured heart for him onlyandalways, the hole scabbing over without either of us being aware until the gorgeous fell away and then he was just grotesque and the place for him was gone.
Lost. I didn’t find it again until the photo resurfaced and we traced over the faces together. 

You were by the window in the parlor, soaking up the sun. You didn’t go outside. You didn’t want to darken. 
You looked at me when you said that, in the tone that you used. It sounded like sandpaper scratching a rusted can, horrible and grating and who could love a sound like that?
Your fingers were bony and cold and you pointed at the photo of all of us and you told me that I looked like your mother and that she was beautiful. I told you you were. I kissed you. 
I left. 

They call you lost. They say I lost you. 
I did not.
I left you there. In the sun. Alive. You were there when I left you. 
You left on your own. 
You left. 
I will not find you again.
But you are not lost.

perfect

Love felt small and left me feeling weak.
The word laid me bare and defenseless and
I clutched it near me.
You didn’t ask for it.
Did you miss it?
The time for Love is now.
In the moment where our
Fingers graze and I pull away
And you move with me
Love would be perfect there.
Or the moment where the light
–A typical burning, blistering sun made less so
By you only–
Catches the gold in your eyes
And I know that you are made
For other worlds and
Love would be perfect here.
Acidic tears drag down my cheeks
And you sweep them away
And the cause, too.
You offer the words “I love you,”
And greedily I hold them.
I can not offer my own.
I cast the notion about, but I
Dared not speak it aloud–
What if it is given to you
And then lost?
The love I give freely is different
And it won’t ache when it’s gone.
I love that.
I love thos
e.
Love for you, words said to you
Leaves me bare.
Tomorrow.
I will tell you tomorrow.

You won’t hear where you are.
Heaven and earth between us, now,
And I cast the words and all of myself into the wind.
I love you.
Hollow, cold, empty now
Echoing into forever
With no one, no you
To feel them
To know them
To bear them back again.
Yesterday.
Love was perfect there.

sin eating

Black as shadow
And as deep.
Festering, you are in the marrow.
Rivulets of red ribbons made lashes
Are carved in the dark.
Still you will not out.

Hewn from the rock beneath
Your countenance remains;
We cannot escape you.
Without peace
You rest.

Breaking bread
I bear your burden.
The stinging whip of rebuke
Meant for you
I accept.

Eternal sleep found you
And gathered the
Forgotten pieces
To equal the scale
And grant you passage.

The splinter of your cross
Borne with lukewarm intent by your savior–
Your sins devoured in whole–
The magnitude of your hell–
The ash of your wake–
I swallow
And endure.

View the lash upon
My unfamiliar skin;
The remnants of your
Transgressions
Are me.

Coin exchanged,
Bread swallowed,
Soul returned.
You escape to heaven,
I am cursed to earth.

Rest peacefully, Father.

metanoia

You ache, skin first–
a splinter.
The wound (a wound is always
what it becomes,
always)
festers,
then deepens.
Later relief, but
permanence is fleeting.

You contemplate all options.

Each of them.

You stare fearfully into the void.
You wonder if it stares back.

Death is not life’s opposite.
But sometimes it is for you.

A momentary reprieve, you feel the
Sweet burn of Sun, and it feels right.
But the burn begins to ache
and it lingers.

It always lingers.
The ache is always bone deep.

It festers and you think they smell it.
They will know.

You want the ache, you do.
Sometimes you want nothing,
but you want the ache more.
The ache is something and in spite of everything
In spite of this you know it

and it is better than not knowing.

You consider suicide.
Not so that you don’t feel…
but
maybe
you will
feel something else.

bitter bark and scorched earth

I bury him before his breath escapes his body.
Long before.
Ages.

The serrated edge of a memory invades me as I gaze upon you.
My eyes are yours.
I hate them.
For me they are velvety chocolate and they are wonderful for holding back tears.
They drip with honey in sunlight and they are perfect in the intensity of its glare.
Narrowed they intensify and betray a calm that I rarely feel.

They are my best feature.
On you they are ruined. The whites around impure, faded to yellow with age.
They are narrow and hollow, no trace of an essence within them.
They are bitter bark and scorched earth and they are wonderful for creating tears, though not your own.

I hate them.
The blade twists as you speak, shattering the fragile glass of my soul.
“I’ve missed you” spills over your blood red lips, pressed through by your forked tongue, lashing my cheek.
You believe your words.
I’m only stopping through, I offer to no one.
You won’t listen. You don’t know my voice.
We speak of nothing and you ask about her.
You smile when you ask. “How is your mother? How many kids does she have now?”
The space between your words is filled with the curses you don’t dare speak aloud.
My eyes are as cold as yours and I don’t answer.
I’m only stopping through. You say that you will call or visit. You do neither.
I pen the letter to you and the weight of you of hate of the death of me lifts.

I will never see you again.

Not even in death.

Your name was mentioned from a thousand miles away.
Frail and diaphanous you are more ghost than man.
Your mind is gone.

I cannot miss you. Valiantly I stare down myself piercing into my soul through my beautifully complex eyes, vainly trying to capture something of you.
I cannot.
You are gone.
The blade of recollection is blunt and dulled.

The pieces of me are yours no longer.