My great aunt's pearls
are too long around my neck,
bouncing off my clavicle
like tiny semi-circle promises.
If I wear them loose
expectations choke me
as if the pearls were too tight
like a fashion statement.
At the first garden party
where we decided to dress like
flappers, you let me dance around you
until my feet turned blue
like the oxygen was gone,
even in the middle of the garden,
where everything was budding
but heavy around my neck.
I used to know you
home after sunrise
Last night you stuck
a rose under my sleeping
nose after you creeped in.
I slept on the couch
until you get home
tickling my bellybutton
like raspberry fuzz
if what you say is true
we finally made it
out of the bad days
and my tea
You think they're too sweet
for our kale salad--
tiny rubies sparkling on taste buds--
staining our shirts,
so we discard them in couch cushions
and cover our torsos in the fleshy
How like you--a hard center
disguised in sweetness.
They're not on a mission
from god--or even their mothers
hands too frozen over
from planting vague rage
to squeeze love back
into the earth
instead it is they who take
first who stays alive.
The Stone-Heart Girl
Inspired by Jane Eyre and Wide Sargasso Sea.
He called her names
to paint her into boxes
he could understand.
But what she could not
understand was why
he couldn’t love her
for her and not another
or a figment of his
She imagined, if he really
loved her, it would taste
familiar but there was
no taste for home to
the stone heart girl.
He kept her secret
as if ashamed of her
ivory. Grabbed a mallet
to chip away at her
best intentions. Believed
he knew better because
he convinced himself
he was, as men do
when they don’t know
the whole story. No
way of knowing
the stone heart girl.
When everything burnt down
she could finally roam free
the rubble, the remnants, of
the stone heart girl.
Not Afraid Anymore
I’ve never seen Star Wars through
when galaxies flew off the screen and I fell asleep.
One of us said it was the hero’s journey
who believes in heroes anymore?
My mother used to let me hold
things between my toes
to know what real fells like.
Nothing fits between them now,
not even you.
It’s only darkness.
I sleep with the lights on, the closet door closed
I’ve seen enough monsters.
This girl I used to know
decorated her days in
purple pipe cleaners and googly eyes.
She covered her hands in bright
yellow finger paint and waved--
her hand a mass of eyes
that would stick everywhere
but on paper. They lived in
her shoes, on walls, in her hair
the better to see everything.
From the first day of preschool
to her fourth birthday
when the cake tasted strawberry
and the princesses all had googly
eyes. She pulled them from
the sugars, as if to see what
the princesses saw
but other people's eyes
are only reflections of
the things we pretend
to be and all she ever saw
through googles and clever
confections was blurred,
[a terza rima]
Late night, after the restaurant
you dragged us away
to your old haunt
Too familiar with how your eyes play,
you liked the way I spelled 'chrysanthemum,'
less when I refused to stay.
You sang your apologies like an anthem
for the the things you knew you lacked
and asked me to forget them.
And, through the bed sheets, my stomach racked
I was never quite sure how
all I had known had been attacked
Now, on the list of what you don't allow,
is to talk about the things I want.
He's not the guy that you are now.
The Last Five Signs That You Are Alone
your eyes never know where to look on trains
other peoples’ public kisses taste like charred doorframe, in your mouth
you are the only person watching sunrise from the brooklyn bridge on a thursday
the toilet seat is cold
apple sauce jars go unopened
post-it notes stay stuck to walls, constant reminders that you are alone
you forget how hard it is to fall asleep alone
after sleepy whispers once faded beneath late night elevated trains
now the closet goes unopened
and you, afraid its contents will seep through the cracks, like your secretive mouth
bury your indecencies under comforters and leave the window open. cold--
but the only way to reach thursday
you thought you saw his shadow in a puddle last thursday
it was that same pyramid-shape as love in a pea coat but you were alone
and, without mittens, there is nothing to shelter your hands from the cold
like the way everything goes ‘local’ after midnight, most of all trains
you put your finger to your mouth
the shape between your lips wordless and unopened
as the sun sets along the hudson, your eyes remain unopened
you come home late, to make a pot of tea and wait for the end of thursday
gingerly bringing the cup to your mouth
turning it so you can see ‘All men’s misfortunes spring from their hatred of being alone’
you bring a thermos and read ancient philosophers on trains
as a distraction from the cold
you imagine him most when you’re cold
pretending you long for the bag of doritos you’ve left unopened
claiming warmth from the newly abandoned seats on trains
not like the seats in your apartment, where he sat last thursday
assuring you, you would never be happy alone
“shut your mouth”
the last time his words reached for your mouth
their sentiments came out cold
like his side of the bed, now that you sleep alone
and the drawers that go unopened--
as unfinished as every thursday
since you watched his smile disappear on a crowded d train
you spend too much time training your mouth to go without ‘us’ on Thursdays
when singular-pronouns feel cold next to the unopened opportunities
that you can’t help but feel alone
Petrichor (the first rain after a dry spell)
Metal arms, spindly
carry the parachute above
our heads. The wind
but water. I am a fish.
You are drowning.
face up on sweaty
cobblestone barely missing
puddles as we jump across
congested streets. Today was
a good day, when we ignored
the storm and got to play
dress up, instead.
We are made of water.
Replenished by the rain.