Parade

I am either a victim or a hero,
but I never really have to choose. Whichever one I happen to live inside of today will carry the weight of the
other on her shoulders, tall enough
to see the parade over a sea of soft bodies.

Somebody told me once
“you don’t get to choose what
is too much for someone else.”
If I am not too much for
him,
her,
them,
so be it.
I am too much for me.
So I hold my hand today and leave
this love letter in my pillowcase:
Your pain rises up through
the dirt to flower. You hurt
to heal. You ache to grow.

Snapshot Of A Double Take

I have a snapshot of a double take you did last night and it’s taped to a wall in my brain, inside whichever room it is that keeps all the memories. Do you remember? You were ushering me down a stranger’s street through a mess of beer breath-ed humans on a Saturday evening where the bass boomed and panted like a sick animal in the hollow of my body. You looked back once to grab my wrist. Then you looked back again, fast, and the corners of your lips were raised into a crooked and honeyed smile that said, “we’ll be home soon,” or “I love who you are,” or something like this. Sometimes everything inside of me goes dry and blank, like a printer spitting out hot white pages instead of stories. It’s as clear and as muddy as that. So you took me on a train to the familiar pavement where the air smells like you. We sat in the park at the chess table with profanities carved into its face. And then we slept in the room that we both call home now for different reasons, where out the window lives the red brick clock tower, honoring time and space and the deep breath of a moment that you and I get to laugh together in this lifetime.

Movie Star

My stale, faded past darling once
peered into my rib cage through a
telescope made of good intentions.
He told me I look like a movie star

when I cry (he told me every time).
Just now I heard my sister’s heart
splinter on the passé kitchen tile
and I don’t know if I can tell her

she’ll ever collect the whole of it
in her dustpan. I can tell her it
will love again, but I cannot tell
her that last kisses stop hurting.

I can tell her she will muster up
a thing that resembles it but
I cannot tell her he won’t take a
great, sharp piece with him when

he goes. My stale, faded past darling
holds a part of me and I, a part of
him. There is a scar on my left thigh
for proof: It is the mark I made with

the sliver I took and I still see
it, still feel his ghost every so
often when I undress. What a
strange thing to have been held by

someone who will never again see all
of your skin. Even stranger is the
expectation that you will never cry
for him after everyone else has

forgotten, as if the heart is a
thick slab of brown clay, warm,
safe, and malleable in a potter’s
hand. I will not lie to my sister

and tell her she is a fired and
glazed porcelain jar. I will
tell her she is the mosaic made up
of its shattered melancholy pieces.

The Water Is My Church

How can I ever tell you
in human language
of what has happened?

I’ve tried for
one full day and night
to decipher the magnitude

of this moment on earth
but maybe I can’t
so maybe I won’t.

Just know this:
There are angels in the water.
At four in the afternoon

when the beach is soulless,
go swimming and you’ll know.
Jesus himself could

sing hymns at my ear
and I won’t believe in God,
but chest-deep in

the stars of the lake
I will drop to my knees
and pray in his name.

The water is my church.
The water is hallowed.
Amen.

Blue-Green

Each summer
the sweet-toothed child of my soul comes out to live by the water
and taste the sugar of gratitude.
She comes with words to speak, lessons to teach. 
She comes for healing. 

Each day
she learns from the seagulls,
from the dune grass, and the lake.
They know nothing but the goodness
of their short (or eternal) lives.
They speak of nothing less and nothing more than “now,” “now,” and “now.”

Never mind
the world that waits for me.
The water is so blue-green
today it makes me want to cry.
If you press your ear to the sand
you’ll hear the footsteps of passers-by.
Listen deeper and you’ll hear the child, shaking the unopened gifts that lie underneath your thinking mind.