The Storm

The ocean gathers himself,
shoulders raised, crazed waves
spewing from his brutal mouth, swallowing stars
as he comes. Shaken, stirred,
the shore quivers to receive him, her love.
Her lips still bruised by his gnawings, but there she goes –
there she goes into the rushing beast of the night.
In the lives of those who love each other,
the storm always come too sudden. Quick as whips,
the lightnings tear the sky in shreds; wounded
shreds to be sewn back together
by the red moon and a watchful owl.
They already know. They always knew. When it is over,
the ocean – his violent heart broken –
laps soft kisses at the shore’s fingers,
knees, dreams and never ever again. In the lives
of those who love each other, the morning after the storm
always promises to brighter; brighter than
yesterday; brighter than all those days
that furl into remorse; nameless remorse
born in the name of love;
the kind of love
that makes us rage, and destroy;
destroy everything we love.

The Waiting Room

Once he heard it, he felt relieved.
Not sad, not mad, not even afraid, but relieved.
Relieved that he was finally falling
into this black hole he had been
tiptoeing around for months, not knowing whether
this dull yet ever present pain inside
his body that he dared not touch
or speak of was the beginning
of an end. How many nights has he lain
awake on the cold bathroom tiles, slowly
trailing his fingers to its core, feverish
with doubt, unable to say one true thing about it.
Once or twice, he sensed something, a pulse, a rhythm,
a dark quickening that was unlike life. It was
unlike anything he had ever known. Afterwards
the nurse came out to talk to him, with carefully chosen
words that meant to give him just enough
to go on hoping that he might be the exception,
one in a hard million, a lucky star. It was cruel.
Nevertheless, he listened, and smiled,
almost too cheerfully, at the nurse, while
silently congratulating himself for no longer
having to be burdened with this fear
of falling into the black hole. Now that
the fall has begun, he can just keep on falling
until he meets it at the end. And when there was
nothing more to say, he left the waiting room,
and strode into the crisp autumn afternoon.
The fearless angel and the wicked dragon
alone in the dark wood.

Vanish

Tonight I baked a raspberry pie
under the poetic moonlight,
washed and dried dirty dishes pretending
they are my blooming peonies,
and I put out a fresh roll of toilet paper
in the kids’ bathroom before lying down to dream
all that could have been
in this pantomime of life
if only I could live my own self
in my own pretty lilac words; never vanish
into a life without making a mess; never yield
to the waning season like the soured crops.
They may have been right all along: sooner or later
the great wind rushes under us all, and winter comes
to take the red fever out of every autumn leaf, but remember my heart
O my heart that has gone soft and blue, like the cratered moon,
once thumped, ached, and burned for a fevered future.

 

Originally published on March 24, 2017 on my old blog. 

What Remains

I thought of you this morning, dear Josephine. In early spring, the dandelions became alive again in the garden you left behind. White parachutes of fickle seedlings, gone onto the same curving road you took to get away from here. I often wonder where you are, my sweet dandelion. The light’s filling up the sky as I am writing this letter to you, thinking of all the bright summers we’ve spent in this town; thinking of your liveliness, your sadness, the knot in your heart and all that gave you scars. Remember we used to run wild in the thick of the field, somehow seeing through the boarded sky that there would be a different life, two pebbles pattering in the palm of an invisible hand, your long hair windswept and struck by moonlight. The monotonous tide didn’t matter. The hunched backs of the fishermen didn’t matter. The cold rain, the wet grass, the wind maliciously tugging at our dresses didn’t matter. We were not afraid, Josephine, of what was beyond, or what came after. When we stood on the black rock cliff to watch the sunrise, a pair of white birds circled over us like impossible love, before diving into nothingness, never to be seen. You said that is how you like to go one day. You dreamt of a world that wanted you in it, that needed your wide teary eyes and tight fists. Years later, some say that this dream was not the right kind of dream, but rather an impish shove against the breakwater that no waves could ever defy. But I want to believe you haven’t given up living a good life wherever you are. Today as I sit under this old willow tree where we used to share tiny secrets, watching leaves fall as they fall without haste, my memory of you, laughing, and holding a conch to hear the sea, is what always remains.

 

Originally published on August 25, 2016 on my old blog.

darkening, brightening

At midnight I stretch flat on the wooden raft,
out on the lake by my father’s house.
It is August of 1999, the summer I begin to tie my hair back.
The boy says he adores the nape of my neck.
How lovely of him to use “adores” instead of “likes”.
The grass is warm to touch, kissed by the light from stars
that are already dead.
Surely nothing that beautiful could live long.
darkening, brightening,
sixteen winks and a tulip.
Most of the time I meditate on the dark waters.
The moon is my mother.
My mother is the moon.
White as cow’s milk, round as a breast,
lactating, and sagging over me in the bluest air.
And I am that baby fattened like a little buddha.
Flower buds bloom, bloom, bloom,
until moony milk turns sour.
I wear my mother’s white silk dress without a bra.
I dance across her retina like a bright ballerina.
Such is the ritual to perpetuate one’s youth,
the waiting through the hot where nothing has significance.
It’s funny and a little sad,
that no one notices me gone,
moused out of the great house without triumph.
In the family room Josephine is playing the piano,
my father’s out cold at the bottom of his bottle.
Daddy’s blue and mystic hours. Daddy’s lullaby. The the husk of the house
chases me down, down the lake,
now in sight, now hidden behind a yew tree.
Dark as an eye and terribly mad. Daddy, daddy,
is that you? Or has it always been my imagination?
How I would love to believe in tenderness.
How I would love to drift into the sea,
and let the lighthouse beam sweep over me.
Not even the light from my mother’s window could reach me then.
The white light emitted from her laburnum lamp that she never turns off,
not even in her blue-capsuled sleep, her lipstick
smearing onto her sheets like old menstrual blood.
Everybody is afraid of something. I have to tell someone
about this terrifying space inside me, like the closed hollow of a bell pepper.
I hardly know myself, elbows, knees, fingernails, and those echoes!
Listen, the season is changing soon.
The boy curls up against me in the afternoons.
I think I will love him for a while.
And I will always remember. The touch
of the thighs, the damp hair, and the soft fuzz on his upper lip.
darkening, brightening,
sixteen winks and a tulip.
The shine of dead stars sweeter than any kind of love.

 

Originally published on July 26, 2016 on my old blog.