Ancient Feeling

Why does everything have to have meaning?

Why do I look for trees that are old?

I look for trees to outlive me, to be bigger than trauma, so I can feel comforted by majesty and legacy.

These trees are small in the desert but who am I to judge?

The rocks are older than pain. They chip apart in more fragments. Surely, that should provide some solace.

Why is “should” being mentioned?

The fly’s eyes match the red rock. Lizards crawl over logs like thoughts. Drops of water fall on my elbow, my forearm. Wind pulls past my left ear.

I wonder what time sunset is. My phone has no service and the suspense is exciting.

I see a future of fainting on the trail, sleeping it off on the red earth. Losing track of time and place.

Is that why I came here? To weep? To watch the yellow pages flutter while my heart beats in my temples?

My breath is not mine, but the land’s. My body is not mine, but the land’s. My heart is not mine, but biology’s.

I pass one family and then see no one. Everyone has gone home, and I have, too.

Home is here with particles of dirt dancing and wet cheeks over dry earth. Grass twists into curls. Moss grows faded green; a green so dry it’s blackened and flaked. The moss has pores like my face. Breathing sacredness. The ground glitters with silver in some places.

The half moon is there. I don’t have anything else to say about it. It hangs. It is being a moon. Can I be a moon? I’d love to be hidden and then suddenly be seen. But I already know that feeling. It’s called love. It’s called an awakening from sleep.

I find a piece of silver and it breaks apart in my fingers like fish scales. Maybe all the silver belonged to a giant fish that swam here when there was water, before it was colonized. It’s a relief to feel something ancient because if something can live that long, I believe I can, too.

On the way back, I clutch a smooth, rounded, wooden stick that fits perfectly in my palm; a walking stick for the soul. Halfway down, a large boulder beckons me. I hug it and feel the mass of a thousand tonnes leaning into me. It holds time itself in its gravity. My cheek to the rock, smooth meets rough, skin meets ant. They climb onto me like I am an extension of the rock. Filled with the weight of the moment, I put the wooden stick into my bag and make my way down the rest of the mountain. I have made an offering and now I have one with these words.

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You Are a Meal

All I have to do is look
At your eyes, and I know
I know which way the wind blows
On Agua Fría at 2 am
I know which way the blood flows
When I come to at 9 pm
I know why I came this way
Through a longitude of suffering
Latitude of brokenness
Like an earth caving in to entropy

All I have to do is look
At your eyes, and I know.
I know that you are a meal
That feeds me, you, a healing
of multiple destinies at once.
I know that I am free
As a woman, free to be
Spectacular.
I know that true love is more than not nice
It is the deadly bullseye of Cupid’s bow
It is the impact that doesn’t come twice
But once. Thank god.
I know that time is a mountain blessing:
A testament in patience and
Reckless fear. A dusting of dreams
And eyeballs. An allergy to stopping
And suicidal footprints on the climb up.

All I have to do is look
At your eyes, and I know.
I know my demise into your arms
At the end of my days
Surrounded by children
Ours, ours, ours, Forever.

I know that I want to survive
The seeping seasons to come
The ooze out of summer into fall
Blending from self to everything
Golden. I know that golden is a feeling,
Not just a color, a way to paint.
Remember that first drive in the sun
After the fainting?
We were gods born from a miracle,
Gasping for air through gritted teeth.
We were cupped in the womb’s hand waiting
for a washing, a cleansing of vices
and untethered joy.

All I have to do is look
At your eyes, and I know.

A Daughter’s Prayer

The Past

As a young child, I carried many ants
on my arms
but he blew them off
in the hurricane of his voice.

He hacked away at the woods with his questions,
one tree at a time,
one dream at a time,
severing my heart from his
until the forest of my soul laid bare.

I grew up in the shadow of his cloud
never asking for more sunshine
than needed to stay put within the four walls
of family and expectations.

The Present

Can roots grow where there are none left?
Can they grow like philodendrons
from nothing but water
and promises to change?

The Future

Here, in the garden
I rest,
with the running water
of the fountain.
The sun burns my eyes with hope and
I feel a tingling.
My nails grow long and spindly.
My body shrinks with wrinkles.
My voice cracks like the heron’s calls.

I see an old woman now,
moss-covered,
with long, greying hair,
roots twisting and
touching the earth
that holds her father’s ashes.

Now

Bid the clouds that muffle
our cries farewell,
for it is not too late yet.

Let it not be death that frees us.

In The Book of Memories

We are still children
attempting to raise the next generation;
pyramids of hope from the bottom up.

We think we progress like keys
on a piano, up to the faintest
pitch of heaven,
but the truth is we fall down
the scale so many times.

Rock bottom is nowhere and everywhere
at once.
The ending of a song,
the beginning of a life.

Getting up is hearing the pianist say,
“she is in the book of memories”
reaffirming the thought that we are
stories walking on stilts.

Two days later,
you’ll think it was a dream,
remembering he said all of it
was an illusion.

Vincent Van Gogh said,
I dream the painting, then I paint
the dream.

Entering and departing
with the screech of a Greyhound bus;
the chimes of hypnosis.
I’ve got the mosquito bites
from the river
and the notes to prove it.

My Friend, The Pianist

For Michael Caldwell

 

I want him
to pull out
every song
in his repertoire,
Beethoven, Mozart,
Rachmaninoff, Chopin,
the music nobody
can perfectly pin down,
untwine the notes
from his fingers,
unleash his aging body,
take the fear
and the almost-fear,
and the love,
especially the love,
and then
and then
play them
on his piano
and see how
they sing
and his heart jumps!

 

Inspired by a slightly more solemn poem, My Friend’s Divorce, by Naomi Shihab Nye.

 

 

A Few Thoughts I Have After Finishing a Book

Once I finish a book and I turn the last page, I feel untethered. For the last few days, I’ve been grounded in someone else’s words, learning someone else’s story, yearning for a different life. When it’s over and the book is closed, it’s an ending of the story but also my relationship with it. Now, with no story to make a home in, I’m a refugee until I find another world to live in. I’m a kite flying in the wind waiting to come back down to Earth.

But it’s not all loss. When I’m soaring up there, I reflect, the sun on water below, thinking about what I’ve just learned. With my new findings, I can turn east or maybe south. The wind is unpredictable. The way you go is never known or set in stone. The scary thing is you can fly anywhere, and that’s the most beautiful part of it, too.

It’s important to be able to fly by yourself. Books teach you how. If you take the lessons learned in the stories you read—and by lessons I don’t mean heavy, moralistic conclusions, but literally anything a story teaches you that enlightens you in some way—you figure out how to become the leading character in your own story.


This was written after reading, The Song Poet by Kao Kalia Yang. I highly recommend it. Five stars.

Open Window

I filled the ‘O’ in LOVE with black
after you broke my heart.
You slipped into the dark hole
of memory, my source of nightmares.

She spoke French.
I spoke heartbreak.
You said swear words
I didn’t know existed.

I opened the window and
thought about jumping, but
I worried you wouldn’t hear
the thud, and the trees’
branches would catch me.

I threw out all your stuff
and her flimsy dresses.
I saw a pink one, fitted,
slinky, and imagined it
clinging to a body
like betrayal.

The clothes hung on
to the trees, flares of love
signaling my rescue from above.