hoping they will train me in the art
of opening up
I stand on mountain tops believing
that avalanches will teach me to let go
but I am here to learn.
unless it comes out of
your soul like a rocket,
unless being still would
drive you to madness or
suicide or murder,
don’t do it.
unless the sun inside you is
burning your gut,
don’t do it.
when it is truly time,
and if you have been chosen,
it will do it by
itself and it will keep on doing it
until you die or it dies in you.
there is no other way.
and there never was.
You are a
and a while,
do not drown
When Daddy comes in, he carries you to bed. Is there anything you feel like you could eat, Pokey? Anything at all?
All you can imagine putting in your mouth is a cold plum, one with really tight skin on the outside but gum-shocking sweetness inside. And he and your mother discuss where he might find some this late in the season. Mother says hell I don’t know. Further north, I’d guess.
The next morning, you wake up in your bed and sit up. Mother says, Pete, I think she’s up. He hollers in, You ready for breakfast, Pokey. Then he comes in grinning, still in his work clothes from the night before. He’s holding a farm bushel. The plums he empties onto the bed river toward you through folds in the quilt. If you stacked them up, they’d fill the deepest bin at the Piggly Wiggly.
Damned if I didn’t get the urge to drive to Arkansas last night, he says.
Your mother stands behind him saying he’s pure USDA crazy.
Fort Smith, Arkansas. Found a roadside stand out there with a feller selling plums. And I says, Buddy, I got a little girl sick back in Texas. She’s got a hanker for plums and ain’t nothing else gonna do.
It’s when you sink your teeth into the plum that you make a promise. The skin is still warm from riding in the sun in Daddy’s truck, and the nectar runs down your chin.
And you snap out of it. Or are snapped out of it. Never again will you lay a hand against yourself, not so long as there are plums to eat and somebody-anybody-who gives enough of a damn to haul them to you. So long as you bear the least nibblet of love for any other creature in this dark world, though in love portions are never stingy. There are no smidgens or pinches, only rolling abundance. That’s how you acquire the resolution for survival that the coming years are about to demand. You don’t earn it. It’s given.
It blows my mind that after all this time you’ve spent on earth, nobody ever bothered to tell you that your eyes aren’t fucking brown.
They are copper against honey and sage and when they water they glow, two perfect orbs the same shade as nature after it rains.
You’re not as simple as they wanted you to be.
"you’re not as simple as they wanted you to be"
i liked you because when you spoke you said
things like “blue busses remind me of Easter”
and “God lives inside the walls of art museums”
two days before graduation you picked me up at 4 AM
and we drove down to Michigan, I told you about my
sister and you told me about winters in Connecticut
when i left for college, i wrote you three poems and
handed them to you in white envelopes, you gave me
sea shells you found when you were thirteen and alone
he tastes bitter and i still think about your laughter
i wonder if you look for the moon on broken nights
because my skin burns when strange boys touch me
when i received the invitation to your wedding,
i took a shower and boiled myself into patches
of pain, then i called and said congratulations
she looked beautiful at the wedding and i got
drunk off of red wine and told your mother how
you used to cry when people called you brave
we talked once, you told me you haven’t read
my poems yet and asked if i still had your sea
shells, i told you i was supposed to be in white
i moved to Australia and three years later i
received an apology letter from you which
i burned and then wouldn’t sleep for weeks
i still think about you on nights when my
husband is sleeping and my black lungs
want cigarettes i promised to stop smoking
i saw you in my dreams last night, you
were kissing my neck and stroking my
thighs and i woke up crying in sweat
i went to your funeral last Thursday night,
you were always talking about Autumn so
i didn’t think you should have died in winter
i cut my hair short before visiting your grave
because i didn’t want anyone to recognize me,
i left your sea shells and cried on the way home
The world is such a scary place. Sometimes it seems like it’s nothing but anger, and violence, and hurt.
It can be terrifying when you’re out there in it. But if you know where to look for it the world also has warmth, and love, and forgiveness.
The world has joy in it, when you find a place that allows you to experience that joy, when you find people who make you feel safe and loved, like you belong, you don’t walk away from it. You fight for it.
This is not your destruction.
This is your birth.
i don’t know what to tell you
other than the fact that a giraffe’s
heart weighs 22 pounds and that
somebody once told me when
flies fall in love, their entire brain
is rewired to only know loving each
other. when one of them dies, their
memory becomes blank. i hope you
never think about anything as much
as i think about waking up next to
you during a windstorm at 5 am.