3-5 years

When I find out about you
my ears bleed blood
fed from inner tributaries—
rivers to
a palace with no prince
in a forest with no purpose
vigil, sigil
growing grimy circle
I bind you to me
unsuccessfully

I used to say I came from nothing
that’s not true
I come from guilt and a legacy of not-naming
of breath barely contained by skin

Your mom dies and you draw the Fool–
shield with salt
shield with amethyst
Sheila with briny purple forehead bruises
a spreading sheen I can’t clean
and folded cold hands that feel like home

I carry the High Priestess
on accident
in a journal with reminders
to ground
to chew and swallow
complete the action
or the numbness will spread until you disappear

I come from bravery
arrogance in the face of cruelty
and a tired, stubborn love that is a little lost in the woods
it doesn’t know a body
or a grassland
or a country
but it has a memory tied to smell
so it can bury fear in the yard
and sit in proximate distance

You said
one of seven sisters has to go first
you laughed a spiteful toothy morsel
I want to talk to you through the monitor
I want my pain to radiate through time and technology
I want to hold your hands while they’re still warm
paint your nails with obsidian

In a dream we are running horses
and we are both free
to give each other exactly what we need
our language makes sense
and for once
the litany of lost words becomes audible

I wake and know
healing isn’t helpful now

I invoke exhaustion
sarcasm
new ways to store tension in the body
secret hollows between vertebrae
a slowed speech spell wrapped around a distressed tongue

I invoke a numbness that propagates new noises
a wild orca calling for a friend that’s not coming back
wrapped in wood
disappeared to embers

I got drunk and wrote down:
don’t blame young trees for not knowing
in the prolific absence of elders
It will take us as long as it takes us
there is a desperation well earned
deservingness absent as a point of reference

I invoke spacing out for hours
staring at the same ten photos
miles of untended memories
neglected trails of dried earth
barrel cacti sweating to burst

I invoke smoking weed until my eyes are crossed
in a perpetual sleeping wake
I’ve lost weeks to this bitter silence
and my friendships are quietly truant
in this smudged light the stars carry my heartbeat
to the other side of a black hole
and my forceful sighs are a sharp reminder
to remember to get it back

The last time we talked
you said Life’s Not Fair
I nodded over the phone
because I knew and know
and that doesn’t help me now

I still want to hang every ex-husband
boyfriend, father, doctor, lawyer, and stranger at the beach
that made you feel crazy and unsafe
from the moon, by their entrails
as a warning
I want to smear their blood across my face
as a beacon that bakes and stinks in the sun
I want to crush their bones for tea to get strong

What is a ritual but a process
bending points of history back to it
offering up flesh
that never quite belonged to us
we persist as decomposers and decomposures
relics insisting that sometimes we have to break down
and we do

I love you and language isn’t enough

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