spit-smooth

we are sitting around the dining room table trying not to think
about how it is the last time we will. the ceiling hangs over
our eyes like a cloth so we touch hands, cheeks, lick salt
and dirt off each others noses. it tastes too good to be
the last time we all come to rest between my teeth. the mouth
is not made a place to keep things but we have given it
our best. we are worn spit-smooth, good under thumb
and tongue. i have done nothing that matters more than making
this, this object shaped like a good skipping stone built of our bodies,
of my little black dog, a hundred ripe bananas and the way we insist
on brushing our teeth at the same time. i want to draw in each
of us where i can’t imagine us not. it’s hard to lose something
all at once that you gained little by little. though i am not sure
it would be better to lose every piece of this house, this life we built
at the speed we made it. to wake up one morning with a hole
where the stove was. the next day, we undo our laundry and bicker
for the first time. some day the hole will be one of us. no, it is better
like this. there is a joy in seeing how far you can throw even
the afternoon’s best stone.

Advertisements

too cold for digging

it has been snowing as long as i can remember which maybe says more
about me than it does about the weather. the big oak paws at my window,
almost indistinguishable from the scratching of small warm things
that have made a home of my walls. i am glad something
has made a home of it. the world is in greyscale which we think is a certain
way 
of beautiful. sometimes limited visibility is a blessing. another blessing:
at the cemetery two blocks from the house that used to be ours,
the ground 
is too cold for digging, the metal shovel sticks to skin.
it is no use, anyway – here, there is nothing to bury. that’s the thing
about this kind of losing: 
the mourning begins and ends
with a breathing body. it’s just that now i can’t hear
the breath or sound of skin 
touching itself or your alarm
in the morning. two thousand miles of land 
will do that. you are not
a creature made for cold and that is all this midwestern state has ever
given you. maybe it is all i have ever given you. at breakfast i look at my life
without you the way i know you see everything: through a jar of honey,
the light 
through an orange slice. you are in love with the hour
before sunset and that 
i can’t compete with. i am waiting to love
whatever day ends the snow.

pinned

it’s snowing in the first week of april
and it feels like it’s all i can take.
it heaps on hoods and branches
while i dance frantically in our empty living
room. the music is so loud i would fear
for the speakers if i could. i’m drinking straight
from the moonshine jar i’ve been saving
for a special time. i wanted to wait,
share it with you or at least drink it
while you watched, kiss you a hundred
sixty proof and let the dog lap up
the spills. instead i’m left with the best
option that doesn’t include you. what i must
look like to passerby through the windows:
a sugar drunk girl, body like a sheet
pinned to a clothesline. i hide the moonshine
behind a lamp where i hope you’ll find it whenever
you are here again. when i hope you’ll worry
just a little. i crack a screen-less window
and the snow swirls in like a cloud.
it is not wrong for you to be gone
today. there’s no day where it’s wrong
for you to be gone. it’s that you are gone
on all the wrong days when it’s too snowy
or rainy or sunny or anything to read quietly
on the couch or appreciate red wine or
pretend i’m doing anything other
than trying to make someone on the sidewalk
see me and think i look happy.

running

i can’t tell what this is about, this want
for running. yesterday it was seven.
today, ten miles. my knees look like
tomatoes, squishy with the swell.
i have never been able to run that far.
walking down stairs takes twice
as long and both hands on the rails,
a full body endeavor. it started when
i stopped being so sad all the time.
or maybe i’m not so sad all the time
because of this. this self care
is indistinguishable from trying to hurt
just enough—it is harder to feel anything
much when the body is so tired.
the options: joints like vegetables
left too long in the sun & a touch
of seratonin. or body intact, unswollen & too
little want to leave the shower. once
i spent four hours behind the curtain
and only left because my heart beat
felt wrong from all the heat. no towel.
the water made a river to my bed.
the mold started slowly, sheets wet
for days it was like sleeping
inside a dewey corn husk it almost felt good
but not quite. nothing ever quite
felt good. now i am hair damp after
a normal length shower, legs
covered in bags of ice. a roommate finds me,
asks why do you do that to yourself. it is hard
to be honest the only real thing
to say is that it makes the bad thing
into something different. the last winter
storm knocks hard on the front door.
the roommate answers it, walks out
onto the porch in just his boxers. it’s hard
to see him, even so close. he leaves
the porch, down the street with no shoes.
the snow looks like pillows swinging
at his body. i imagine it doesn’t feel
quite so soft. maybe it is the good
kind of hurt. 

west wash

never have i had a schedule like this: one that feels
do-this-every-day-til-you-die. the same 1.1 miles
to work, sometimes puddles sometimes ice.
i pass a section 8 apartment building and try
to say good morning to everyone who will look
me in the eye. maybe it is polite habit maybe
i am just trying to help. i pass the buildings between
nine and nine fifteen. the cast is often the same:
woman with daughter holding her backpack strap
in her hand, dragging the tired old bag behind her.
middle aged man walking ridiculous puff of a dog,
its screeches audible through headphones.
i smile at him too but hate that thing, a sorry excuse
for a pet. the man who looks barely older than me
with a face full of potholes. his lips look indented
where the cigarette sits. he paces while he smokes,
as if walking the same six sections of sidewalk
might counteract the tar and carcinogens. i take
an extra long step to avoid an uncapped needle.
i am wearing boots with soles as thick as a steak
but you can never be too careful. i say good morning
as i pass and he breathes out heavy, lungfuls of
smoke catch in my hair and i know the lady
who sits next to me at work will notice the smell.
i wonder if he will do this every day now. if i will say
good morning and he will douse me in cigarette stink.
another addition to the list of rituals that come
with this sort of living. lady-who-sits-beside-me will think
i’ve taken up smoking. perhaps i will take up smoking.
the only reason not to smoke is so people won’t think
you smoke—it can look unbearably cool. cigarettes
are unfair this way. if you already look like the bassist
for some up and coming, cigs can only make
you cooler. but if you are standing outside
section 8 housing with skin like a bad backroad,
the smoke smells terrible and nicotine nails
peel like old wall paper. it is not a life
i would choose. luckily it is not a choosing game.
maybe some morning i will step on the needle instead.

(edit)

here is the situation: we are drunk walking
the dog, one a.m., vilas avenue.
neither quite naked, hot
from drinking and dancing and being near
each other. being young is funny that way:
it never takes much. stop at the intersection
to kiss and a middle aged couple catches
up to us. man says: we used to do that
when we were young. chuckles. the woman
is suddenly close—her face floats in
like a lantern. her hands are on my shoulders.
she tries to pull my gaze into focus.
are you okay. what are you guys doing out here.
do you live close by. do you need anything.
i don’t know why this is happening. of course
i am okay. i live at the green house on the corner.
i don’t think i need anything – i guess a pizza
sounds good but—
she looks hard at my boyfriend, peels away
his skin with her eyes. now i see.
the woman’s fingers take to my shirt buttons
i am all done up in a second. i want to tell her
this is a love you don’t worry for i have never
been safer. we are just being kids.
the man says: let’s stop bothering these two.
grabs her arm. she shakes her head but
leaves us, my buttons done tight to my throat.

(toward the light)

we have finally outdone ourselves.
when eye to eye i can tell
we both know it. it is better
just to hold hands. the mescaline stands
up inside me, paces like a caged animal.
it rubs its wrists together
i am rubbing my wrists together, now massaging
my eyes for the light show. there is nowhere
else to look. i laugh for minutes because
i bought this, these neurons firing
into each other,  crying and snotting
and unbridled awe using money grandma sent
for valentines day. she doesn’t even like me
having a drink with dinner. i can’t think
of a better way to use up
this celebration of love. i heard recently
that mostly rich kids do drugs heavy
anymore because it’s all too expensive.
it’s good to have grandmas
with underused checkbooks,
good to afford both dinner and psychedelics.
sad this is another bought pleasure but
it is a bad time to be sad. we know
we are through the thick of it
when we can look at each other again
and like it. ten hours in we lay on the limbs
of a bur oak like big cats, talking
about other times we were high
while hikers walk the ridge beneath us.
i want to grow into this tree:
a resting spot, a way to get closer
to sky.