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i pull my unwashed hair back
each morning
grow out my body hair
welcome the scent of my
own sweat
have a thick coat of dirt under my nails
constantly

i study the soil
the roots within
the worms beneath

across the valley, i see
dust swirling in the
spring wind

drive through mud
spattering my windshield

the soil is not a barrier
grime is not a shield
i am not glass,
will not shatter when i
fall off my bike
fall on the rock

i carry bruises
study them like a map
learn from their bumps,
colors, textures, memories

i have considered the dirt on my hands
at the end of the day, running down the drain
with water and soap

but for what?;
it always returns

-A

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light and the absence of it

what if you gathered the seeds that you need?
with instinct?

can instinct be trusted?

the sun wakes me up each morning,
greets my eyelids with shadows
(my window blinds, the tree branches
swaying outside, light and the absence of it)

my instinct is to
question everything –
to lay down in darkness,
allow it to pass until
the light wakes me up again

why am i asleep
when you hold me?

have i gathered the seeds that i need
to sustain myself?

will storms pass, will they come back again?

all that i ever see is
light and the absence of it

-A

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cycles

i am the earth
because i grow
from my own
decay

today, i trace the lines of my teeth
feel the gaps
with my tongue

and the salt i tasted
on your body yesterday
still lingers

is there a place i am going
where i can sit still?

am i everything i’ve
gathered until this point?
(dead cholla stalks, stained hair-ties,
dusty Appalachian books, flaky orach seeds)

the answer is no
i am only skin
only tissue
only the cycle of
life feeding on decay

-A

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How Our Garden Grows

Yellow pansies for me,
multi-color for you,
then six more
for that price!

Dianthus because it blooms later
and we hope for butterflies
and I like the sound of “fire star”.

Columbine because it is large
and unruly and blue.

And a fourth whose name we forget.
Also blue.

You agree to a second store
because we still need the birdhouse –
The cats would love it.

A smile. A dream.

Later, hands in the earth.
Adding cool, dark, pillowy soil
to the dried dirt and rocks.
Leaving some of the weeds
because if they make it to the top,
they deserve it.

My hands know exactly what to do:
how much pressure to apply,
how to be gentle yet firm,
how to dig and mound and shape
from years of practice with my mother.

This is your first time,
but instinctively
you know, too.

Another smile.

Twilight, cats at the window.
No birds yet.
Waiting for our garden to grow.

-LIMG_0502

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to my Opa, the hog farmer

in the barn, late at night
we walk across frozen manure
to find three piglets, squealing
and one, cold and stiff and dead

we watch expectantly as
mamacita’s body ripples with the waves
of labor, her moans indistinguishable from
those of a human mother giving birth

the next morning, we find
three more piglets, feet away from
mamacita, crushed or frozen
dead nonetheless

i don’t cry, only think about
the tiny hooves i can see
how they formed in the womb,
entered the world only
to crumble

i think to myself
maybe a heat lamp would help
but a thought from somewhere deep
within me asks

“how will a piglet find their mother
to nurse if there is warmth
all around them?”

the business of eating meat is
looking death in the eyes
standing ankle-deep in its shit
carrying stiff corpses to the compost pile

if you can’t, and if you wouldn’t,
why do you partake?

the next day, I happen to wear my Opa’s
wool hat, feeling deserving

I have been where he was.

-A

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Enough Now

You ask
why I seem so much older
and I wonder
why that matters…

Is it not enough
to sometimes feel the sunlight
falling through the pattern of the window
to broken patches on the floor
alone?

To let that warmth
rest on your face
unquestioned?
Noticed, but not called out?

It can be enough
to just listen
to the space around you.

To just feel
the bodies moving –
hugging, touching, being;
To just observe
the connections
and the moments and interactions.

Questions
and curiosity
are both true things

But so is
resting
and accepting
the energy present here and now.

I think that there is a time
for speaking
and saying
and adding;

But sometimes it is the time
for appreciating
and observing.

Not everything requires a reason.

…The answer is
not older,
or wiser,
but more:
at ease.

-L

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let us be

how many ways are there
to love someone?

we keep finding new ones,
you and i

the papersack lunch you send with me
on my way out the door

sitting in your mom’s floor, 3 am, reunited
naked with a guitar, singing

your hand resting easily on my thigh under
the table at dinner

floating silently in the hot springs
as the feathery snow falls all around us

reading spanish before bed,
dictionary in hand

meditating next to one another in the mornings,
hearing each other breathe,
centering in on the junipers and
the empty space in my mind

holding me this way
holding you that

i tell myself now, that
when i feel panic
i will allow myself to see you
to see me

and to let us be.

-A

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walls

i want to build up four walls
to keep you out

and yet
i want to build walls
that we can live in
together

i don’t know where
i am going and i can’t tell
if you are going there, too
(i want you to)
(but will you?)

there are reminders
nearly everywhere
for me to take up space
and breathe

i see my shadow as i run
along the rio and
the notches in my spine
remind me of the ridgeline
of the sangre de cristos
turning pink in the
evening sun

i have never felt so close to another

how do i say
how do i tell you
with each breath that sinks into
my lungs
that you make sunlight brighter
my nights warmer
my laughter fuller

and that i want to leave so
i won’t be left

-A

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morning reflections while drinking tea with milk

Gratitude for plasticity. For the dynamic nature of existence.

I sit here, in color. In warmth. In sound. How do I reconcile my access to comfort, to beauty? Does it cost someone else something?

I am so grateful for song, melody. My own song and the songs of others. How truly awe-inspiring to hear birds sing. Insects chirp. Wind howl through frozen branches.

I am so grateful for creativity. For the collective consciousness and creativity of life. Seeds carry themselves across the breeze. Attach themselves to my sleeves.

For the blood that drips from my cavern, reminding me to pay attention. To dip into myself like a well, a spring, that provides me the strength to rise, to sacrifice, to be still.

For taste, for connection.
For hair, for grasslands, the prairie.
For lessons in trees, in roofs, in dirt, in age.

I sit on my knees. I kiss the ground. The ground kisses my forehead.
I see myself. I see everyone, everything.

I will treat you better.

-A

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pain, the teacher

i look with wonder
at myself,
first

when i left him,
i asked my pain
what she might teach me

it was me,
falling on the rock,
bleeding ankle,
laughing to the sun

it was me,
plucking my guitar strings,
teary eyes,
singing to the quiet

it was me,
tending to the garden,
sweaty brow,
giving thanks to the dark soil

it was me,
picking up,
carrying through,
owning up and
accepting the weight

it was me,
trudging up the snowy hill,
surprising my own self
with my movement
with my stillness

i tell you now that
i have not forgotten my pain

but i have arrived on the other side
where i can carry her lessons
with me;

that my hands are never empty,
that my heart heals when i sing my song,

that i am worth
all of the wonder
i can give myself

-A

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light like feathers

I love you, he says
and I hear him,
and I don’t wish it were any different

The next morning,
when his truck won’t start,
we walk up the hill and
push each other into the snow,
light like feathers
laughing
floating

Today, I try to fight back tears
feel the weight of frustration that
I can’t accept
don’t accept
the love that people offer me
the love that he offers me

I wrote in October that
I want to think of a relationship as
a small, moving piece in the whole of my story,
not the focal point

I want to accept that love is not a promise,
but an acknowledgement
of who we are to each other
right now

How do I allow myself (not force myself)
to feel through the static
of past trauma
without giving it the power
to define who I am and
how my relationships are
today?

-A

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Affirmation

I lay with eyes closed
back on the cool floor
in a dark room
listening to soft breathing around me
and the instructor
who tells us
to imagine we are near the ocean
sinking into the sand
letting thoughts come and go
and my mind wanders
to how my mother
always sees her mother
in her dreams
and then to how
my Afghan friend
says her aunts are visited by their mother
in their dreams
but her grandmother does not visit her
and my grandmother only visits me
sometimes
except for always
because I am her
in many ways
in how I carry myself through the city
to how I dream of flying
and how I can never make up my mind
welcome your thoughts but let them go
it’s okay for the mind to wander
but bring it back
here I am
back on the mat
with eyes closed
in a dark room
just breathing now
instead of thinking too much
about whether I am on the right path

-L

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a new beginning

how to explain the
feeling of you
next to me?

i felt it easily, that first
night when i told you about
tarantula hawks and
my first climbing lead fall

i remember leaving and
knowing that
you felt it, too.

we’re sitting by the fire
on a chilly december evening,
longing to know one another,
drinking each other in.

“would it be insane if i
kissed you?” you ask in a shy way.

i think about all the ways
my heart was broken
only a few months before

think about the words i said to him,
picture them as shards of glass,
envision them in reverse, not
piercing him, not causing him to bleed
flying back into my mouth where they will
stay and never hurt him.

on this morning, i wake in your bed
and still, though it is dark outside,
a morning glow beams on the horizon
where the snowy san juans are dimly outlined

i feel close to you, feel pulled to you
(we are pulled to each other)

i leave with a loaf of bread in hand,
a tender kiss goodbye
and the promise (no, not promise)
the possibility of
a new beginning

-A

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“woman”

it is not a title i earned
was given
but am

i do not claim it
as anything
but armor
anymore

try to tell me
that i can’t be
pretty and rough
all at once

or that i should have to explain
the knife in my pocket,
the hair under my arms,
the polish on my nails

because in my own
version of myself
i encompass each
line of my own topography

ranging from river to
mesa and
back again

when you ask of me
my heart on a platter,
i will offer you my tongue,
instead

-A

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you and I

I am tattered but let me explain

only broken in cracks, not pieces

not glued;
re-attached

I will wear my socks
to my knees
and I will beg for your skin
(but only because that
is what I want and how I
want it)

I have cried out for more
asking the same questions
over and again

now, I’m not asking,
I am demanding

we will get what we want
from each other,
you and I

-A

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The Fight About Tupperware

The fight about Tupperware wasn’t really about Tupperware
but rather, how I ran through every prayer I know
and stopped at three.

It was about guilt – about wanting to be there
and not being there,
about only remembering three prayers
and being too busy to call.

The fight about Tupperware wasn’t really about Tupperware
but rather, how I shoved clean laundry on the floor
to go to bed.

It was about exhaustion – about wanting to fall asleep
and not being able to,
about my teardrops landing on the cat
as rain on fur.

The fight about Tupperware wasn’t really about Tupperware
but rather, how I ran through every prayer I know
and stopped at three,
my teardrops landing on the cat
as rain on fur,
while she was scared and alone on a hospital bed
and I wasn’t there.

The fight about Tupperware was really about pain.

-L

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when he watches you walk away

i remember writing you an e-mail
letters
crying in your arms
crying alone on the floor

feeling the weight of all
we were about to lose

clawing at glass
begging for time, patience
your love
another chance

looking for answers in
your tears, words
silence
choices

but you let me go

there is pain in my whole body
and i have decided to allow it
to serve its time and purpose

then, i will be able to let it go –
that is where my power lies

in letting it go

-A

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I think about how I have not written anything lately.

But then I think about how there have been so many monarchs lately.
It is like they all decided to migrate home at once,
at the same time that the leaves are slowly falling,
and that the whole world is burning,
and that I constantly find myself at a loss for words.

-L

 

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endings/beginnings

i wonder if he’s considered my heart
shattering
when he walks away each time

i wonder if he’s considered my voice
wavering
when i tell him goodbye, goodbye, this is for the best, goodbye

i know i gave him my heart, but does he remember my heart?
does he remember the curve of my spine, hips
the warmth of my skin
as he holds another?

does he remember the love we shared?
the whispers, the tears, the morning tea
and laughter in between bed sheets?
it’s gone now, it has disappeared
but it lingers, for me, in memory

does he remember?
has he considered?

did it exist? did i matter?
if he doesn’t?

is there an end to
remembering?

and if there is

if a tree falls in the forest and no one is there to hear it
does it make a sound?

if my relationship ends and there is no one left to remember it,
did it happen? was it important?

where can i go to ease my pain?
not in memory
not in ending

perhaps, in embracing
beginnings

-A

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on leaving

for some reason, i start with the refrigerator magnets
the polaroid of us from when you visited
the first place i ever felt myself

we woke up that cold november morning, embracing
to stay warm and we marveled at how
i had never slept a full night in
someone’s arms before

the boxes i am trying to fill are
broken down and i try to tape them
and i wish you were here to help

and last night, your tears fell onto
my pillow as i told you our time together
is growing shorter

i want to believe that love lost still matters
that all we shared over the past few years
doesn’t just disappear
when i walk out the door

when i do step, i see
sunlight and mountains
and all the colors of springtime that
bloom

and even though you are no longer
by my side, i feel you and know

i will never forget you

-A

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gold meeting green

i focus on green, on
gold meeting green
shimmering and dancing in
evening light

illuminating a new wealth
of energy that is
born within me

i will harness it
i will feed it

in the mornings, i pull weeds
taking great care to pull
at the root because
i want something to grow there
that will nourish me.

-A

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follow currents

hollow bones
follow currents
invisible as the breath
that fills my lungs

I remember watching the river with you
that summer
learning how to read the current
the flow, the seams, the ripples, the patterns
a language not spoken, but observed

lately, I learn new words
(a virga is a streak
of rain across the sky
that dissipates before ever
touching the ground)

try to name my grief
try to name my guilt
try to name them over and over but they

flow from somewhere else,
not mouth or brain

sit inside spaces
unspoken

and I remember, always, the river
as I look towards the sky
and breathe in
as I dig into the dirt
and observe

currents are wind and water
light and earth
leading and guiding
so that I may follow

-A

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Bound

My cousin asked my other cousin to come bury her dead horse
and I can’t get the image out of my mind
of him standing over the giant chocolate steed,
head bowed,
praying.

In our part of Ohio the soil is a sponge in the rain –
dark, porous and alive;
while in the dry, hot summer it is a powder –
light brown and airborne.

Little cousins kick up dust in the diamond;
bigger cousins rush home with dinner after work;
the large orange sun sets over the hills around the Valley;
and they all see each other on Sunday at church.

I don’t pray on Sundays at mass
but I do think about the way the wet earth feels
planting flowers on a sticky summer Sunday night.
Such images keep me bound.

-L

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wisdom, hard won

i have laid in bed at night
tossing and turning
feeling the absence of your body
next to mine
feeling the absence of your hand
holding mine

cool mornings remind me of the distance
that has crept between us
from a time when, even though
it was summer in the chihuahuan desert,
you would hold me each night and each morning
like a treasure

i have remembered your tears
tried to transform their moisture
into answers to all my questions
about where we went wrong

because even though i packed my bags
and left,
you closed the door behind me

lately, instead, i choose to remember
that my hands hold themselves,
this pen, a garden rake, handlebars
just fine

that i have the tools within me
to cultivate sorrow, loss, and grief into
wisdom, hard won

-A

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Relationship Status

at night the mountains look like the backs of furry animals:
alive, under so many stars;
and in the day the world is blinding and white,
but still we make our way through the snow.

we are covering quite a bit of ground together in this short time –
but why wait?

in a few days I’ll be gone to Africa
and anyway,
why shouldn’t you see the Amish buggies that drive down the lane?
and know that I spent my childhood in a brick house that smelled of boiled Brussels sprouts?

what I mean is,
why stick to someone else’s timeline
when we know exactly the ending we want?

-L

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Waning Crescent

The morning after the wind storm
we have to stop the car for wild turkeys
who decide to turn back to the hill they just descended
before flying over us as we pass on
to the state park where fallen trees litter the trails
and we can hear creaking as the forest settles
into its new position.

Like those trees tilted and leaning on each other,
I am still settling
into what it means now
to walk through life with another person.

-L

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i love the way you

hold me
cry at movies
cut sweet potatoes small
help me with my bike
weed the garden, watch it grow
listen to friday night radio
teach me knots
smile nervously in big situations
laugh easily with others
dive head first into something new
listen to me ask big questions
(listen to me complain)
hold my face gently when you kiss me
let me paint your toenails
ask me to edit your writing
motivate me to be present
drive the long drives
have never won a game against me
bring home sweet treats
have a hat for every occasion
appreciate sunsets, appreciate rain
know me, love me, support me

thanks

-A.S.

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before the temperature reaches triple digits

as i meander through
the side streets on my bike
this morning,

i am forced to face this place
i have reluctantly called home

i notice easily all the blooms along
brightly painted garage walls and
from sidewalk cracks,
oleander and desert willow
sunflower and nopal

the viejitos sit outside under the
shade of a fruit tree, tending to their
shrines of the Virgin Mary

caged up, boxed up little casitas,
exposed adobe bricks melting into
the earth

harsh sunlight warms me as i
peddle down mesquite,
tornillo,
manzanita

i recognize this place, know
which way is north to colorado
and south to the border
where the rio winds through
the orchards and even
how to climb to the highest peak
of the organs

one year here, and though as
reluctantly i have called it home,
i can feel the chihuahuan desert sand
settling in my heart

-A

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Solitude

I want to learn how to sit in solitude, again.
I want to re-learn how to be alone.
How to lie comfortably in silence,
surrounded by my emotions,
uninterrupted in my thoughts.

I want to learn how to stand in solitude, again.
I want to re-learn how not to be lonely.
How to rise confidently in seclusion,
grounded in my surroundings,
unintimidated by the day ahead.

I know what it is to be lonely.
But I also know that loneliness is not alone.
And I want to be alone, again.
Or rather, I want to re-know what it is to be alone,
but not lonely.

I want to not miss you so badly when you are gone.

-L

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The Quiet

the quiet
is made of yellow wildflowers
in long green grass
amidst sun-scorched tan patches

the quiet
is also made of blue sky
with puffy white clouds
and birds flying in pairs

the quiet
is that place where
grief settles

it visits on the drive through the valley
then comes to stay on the bus through the mountains
and remains through bluegrass music on the radio
patiently

it is heavy
so that movements are slower
as if made in water
with care so that nothing cracks or tears open

the quiet
is where sadness lives
when the burial is over
and where we will dwell for some time now

-L

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May 4, 2018

Eye-watering spicy curry
at the hole-in-the-wall Thai joint

Later, crying in the rain
on the way to buy ice cream

Idiosyncrasies –
images that do not fit together

Because how can I still laugh
at how my shirt is now splattered with coconut sauce
when I just cried in the entrance to dinner
as my mother called to tell me the news?

Maybe in the same way
that I can immediately want to sit down and watch Casablanca
even as I feel an overwhelming sadness
and know that the worst of the grief is not yet upon us.

And maybe also in the way
that I know I do not believe in conscious life after death
even as I run through every prayer I can remember
in the hope that she is somewhere I will eventually visit.

-L

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an ode to our almost-romance

why i still think of you, i can’t quite tell

but that summer, i rode my bike each morning
before the world had woken up
to that little house by the
wood-fired pizza place

we built that house, or rather, you did
while i learned to drill a few screws,
use tin snips,
and drink yerba mate from an old
mason jar

on the lake, in your canoe and
along the path, you point out
all the plants,
crush leaves
in your hands and bring them to
my nose
“spicebush,” you tell me, smiling
so i can see the little gap between
your two front teeth

and there, right off the lake
on the branch of the giant sycamore,
we built that swing with scrap
lumber from the house and you
tried to put your arm around me

i think the swing is still there

do you remember what the difference is
between a yam and a sweet potato?
over pizza, we discussed and to this day,
at the grocery store, when the clerk asks me
“is this a yam or a sweet potato?”

i think of you

-A

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quietude

for how long have you mistaken being
quiet for being
small?

on the path last week, near sundown
i carried my binoculars
and aimed them towards the treetops
down by the arroyo

i didn’t recognize any songs,
but heard them, nonetheless

i watched the desert cardinal
ahead of me off the path,
perched on the cholla,
pyrrhuloxia

heard the quail scurrying
through the dead leaves
and shrubs,
glimpses of the feathers on their
heads

when i listen
when i look

when i am quiet

i expand and i stretch
and i am filled

i am not small for being
quiet

besides, the size of
joy
cannot be measured

-A

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Springtime in the City

weather like silk
just a light fabric
blanketing the skin

even the traffic horns
are a symphony
and the man selling papers
looks new and alive to me

evening stars shining
despite the stoplights

I sleep with the window open
because it seems we only get
two nights a year like this
and here is one

-LIMG_1557

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Sketch: First Full Attempt at Self Portrait

I see her there beside him in the parking lot,
studying the stars,
trying to make him proud.

I want to tell her
that one day she will find the Little Dipper
from the window of a plane flying over the Sahara.

But I know she can only feel her feet on one continent for now,
so I just hope she knows she can be enough tonight
loving the stars without knowing Perseus from Orion.

IMG_1525 (1)-L

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lonely girl, desert journey

am i only a
reflection?

the hues and
textures of
those i love
woven into
the lines on my
palms?

when i am so
far away from
the rolling hills
and rocky peaks,

do i still exist?

i cut open the thick,
stale air around me
and can finally
breathe in the light,
again

this happens, i
am reminded of
myself with
no context,
no crutches,
just spine and
bare bones

i am green,
dusty, soft,
rocky, sharp,
ragged, muddy,
and hazy

i am tethered
to belonging,
only this time,
to my self

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-A

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dirt trails

i do not know
what it would be like
to hold you

but if i were somewhere
else, i would grow there,
ache there

the scent of freshly harvested chamomile
this morning reminds me that
we carve out our own path
towards healing

pluck it tenderly with our
fingertips
steep it in our
insides
allow it to float
through our bloodstream,
our inner river

healing is every day,
ritual adjustment

i feel sand in my shoes,
cinnamon in my scalp

i smell the chamomile,
drying on the countertop

i see the dirt trail
across the floor, and
i find myself
longing to
lay in it

-A

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On Loss

Lay’s potato chips dipped in fizzing
Coca-Cola is the very best
After-dinner snack, but I have not
Indulged in that since the days when we

Would sit at the kitchen table, six-
O’clock news in the background (we eat
Early) and gossip about the town,
Cigarette smoke hanging in the air.

And even when the din of that big
Oxygen machine replaced the sound
Of the news we still kept on sitting
At the kitchen table like normal.

I will never understand death, but
I am starting to see that we miss
People more as time goes on and we
Realize which questions we should have asked.

-L

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At Kigali Genocide Memorial

The busy chatter of birds
enters with the morning light –
sun already bright and blinding
heat already sticky and stifling
through the open door
filtered through the stained glass window
down the stairs for reflection
into the room where I stand.

I have never seen human skulls before,
but what strikes me the most
[in this silence]
is that when bodies are just bones
it is impossible to separate
between Hutu and Tutsi.

-L

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a letter to you, and her, and me

sister, all the water, blood and juices
oozing from you body are
freely becoming one.

and in a sea so fiercely curious,
you stand at the shore –
the culmination of all the whispers
and limbs and bones that brought
you into being.

imagine for a second, sister, that
you are not just a body.
you are a collection of synapses
and bacteria, a walking planet.

and inside, did you know, sister, that you are
layers of all the things? like
sandstone and mudstone, layered and
eroded, layered and
eroded,
pieces of fossils are your very
make-up.

these tools, this dust that sits within you.

don’t you know you’ve always had
everything you needed?

-A

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Mid-Ohio Valley Roots

He says he loves me but he knows nothing about me.

I have rolling foothills for my insides
alive at simple things
like neighbors playing bluegrass
and warm sun on my face.
The hair he likes to tuck behind my ear
should blow freely in wind
like my grandmother’s white sheets
as they dried on the line.
My ears seek the somber song of wind chimes
as a breeze passes through
echoing in the valley
on a long afternoon.
A hooting owl to him would mean nothing
like how it reminds me
of the field where I would play
under relatives’ eyes.

I have climbed trees with a journal in tow
scraped my knees on the climb
just to sketch a cicada
as it shed its old skin.
The hands he holds so tightly in his own
have known the slime and slip
of toads pulled straight from the creek
in sport with my brother.
My eyes search for the bright constellations
out my window at night
when we would sneak out and hear
barges in the distance.
A woodpecker in rhythm is nothing
to him like on the hikes
led by my fearless father
before time for supper.

I have passed gardens with my grandfather
watched him pick tomatoes
juicy red straight from the vine
eaten whole like apples.
The feet he calls light and made for dancing
stepped barefoot in wet grass
over mossy arrowheads
and Hopewells long buried.
My limbs beg to find a porch swing to rest
on a lazy morning
mind steadied by the quiet
and constantly rocking.
The smell of green walnuts means nothing
to him like my parents
talking with each other
on the porch at twilight.

How can he love me without understanding my past?

-L

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adoption

memory, 3. i am in the room, the one with the games and toys and
the glass windows
so they can see and document
the interaction

my mother’s blond curls are covered by a pink bucket hat
“i like your hat,” i tell her
so she takes it off her head, and hands it to me
to keep.

memory, 9. i am in my room, the one i shared with my sister
and now it’s mine and i hide a box
underneath my bed

it contains old letters, cds marked
“the jimi hendrix experience” and
“pink floyd dark side of the moon”,
a music box, and an
old pink bucket hat

memory, 18. i am in the room, the one he’s been
living in, battling the cancer, my mother is
here too and she is crying.

i came from my factory job, second shift
i put on his
shoes and jacket for him, then take them off
as he requests

such an odd feeling, to be somewhere
but feel so
far away

memory, 23. i am on the other side of the room, the
one with games and toys and
the glass windows
so i can see and document
the interaction

little boy, blond curls crying on the floor
his mother failed another drug test
this week but
she brought him a new
coloring book

memory, 26. i am in the room, the one i go
to every week to talk

when she asks me to draw
what it looks like, what it feels like
i choose the color pink,
think a moment, and draw
roots

-A

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At Great Falls Park

The two turkey vultures
held our fascination
for a bit

in a morbid,
can’t-look-away
kind of way;

but we all watched the crane
silently glide through the water
for what could have been an hour:

the satisfying crunch
as it bit down into a crayfish
or do you say crawdad?

the satisfying echo
of the ice chunk
hitting the frozen canal

the satisfying kiss
at the pub after
in front of my friends and yours.

-L

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my mother always interprets my dreams

what i like about myself is that,
once i am awake,
i will look you in the eye

last night, i dreamt of a jaguar
laying in my bed —
a mother and her cub
i startled them,
they left, and
i lost them

in this way, i carry my skin
as though i wish it were armor

at work, i hide my underarm hair
as a secret
i smile when i register that
that’s what you need

and when i get home late at night,
after mopping the floors,
i can’t sleep

last week, riding the sierra vista rail
i had to stop so i could listen to the
wind brush through the lovegrass

from where i stood, the wind
carried the sounds of
coyotes howling from the west

and tonight, on my walk back to my car,
i notice a fox crossing my path
ahead of me, looking for a bush
or shrub to
hide behind

now i think about looking him in the eye,
disrespecting me, “excuse me?”

i think about looking him in the eye,
disrespecting me, “i will explain”

i think about looking him in the eye,
disrespecting me
disrespecting me
disrespecting me

the jaguar, an animal,
and instincts,
my mother tells me –

something about
following them

-A

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A Playlist of the Music that Boys Play in Cars

1. Suedehead by Morrissey

at midnight I am awake on the carpet
watching the ceiling fan spin round and round
while I listen to his mixtape
in the bedroom at my parents’ house

Morrissey is strange and new
but again, so is he
a year older than me
teaching me what couples do

but Morrissey makes me uneasy
like it makes me uneasy to
kiss him in the back of the movie theatre
when I really do just want to watch the film

2. Mr. Brightside by The Killers

nothing about this feels exciting or right
riding shotgun with him to the movies
with my favorite band’s songs playing
since he somehow knows that I like them

I am so much older now
this seems like what to do
towards the end of high school
to prepare for future dates

but just yesterday in Spanish class
after I tried to turn away
he would not stop touching me under the desk
watching my face for my panicked reaction

3. Gypsy by Fleetwood Mac

at noon we are riding through our college town
running errands I hate to do alone
while I put on my favorite song
and we both enjoy singing along

Stevie Nicks is familiar
her voice cozy, like him
a year younger than me
teaching me how to be friends

my favorite song makes me feel light now
like it makes me feel happy to
have someone who shows how much he cares for me
with no hidden motives or expectations

4. She Smiles For Pictures by Big Trouble

there is a sadness I cannot tap into
riding shotgun with him in his old car
with his favorite band’s songs playing
since he wants me to enjoy them, too

I am so much older now
this feels like what to do
when you love in college
and want it to last so long

but the next time we sleep together
after letting more go unsaid
I will realize trust makes a relationship
feeling our friendship break from what we won’t share

5. Tricky to Love by White Lies

this is not a song I would normally like
but I decide to listen just the same
because I want to know his interests
after I have just shared some of mine

I have never felt so sure
that this is how it goes,
it should be this easy,
that when you know, you just know

by the time we reach my apartment
we have decided our next date
and as he gently asks if he can kiss me
I can see that it was always worth the wait

-L

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On Shadows

when the moon goes away
during the daytime
we are still aware of the darkness
on the other side of the planet

and when the fire burns bright
during the winter
we are still aware of the deep chill
just outside the circle of warmth;

so am I aware of the madness
that lies in wait beneath my surface
settling like a dense fog in my mind
visible only by glancing to the side

and so too am I aware of the line
that thinly separates my quaint life
from the spiral of insanity
known to stalk and follow and creep up on me.

-L

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the ever-changing tide

i watch the waves crash at the shore
(the shore which is so relative to
the ever-changing tide)

it is low tide
small blue starfish and
light green, wiggling anemones and
pointy, purple urchins
hide in small pools
where we stumble upon them
and gaze in awe

the hours that pass go unnoticed,
exploring the colors and textures
of the salty ocean
until soon the growing tide chases
us out

tonight
there is a full moon rising
as the sun sets and
the sight of it
is such a testament
to the gravity which i have
witnessed today

the sun pulls
and the moon pulls
and there is darkness,
and of course, the light
that i always come back to

the ocean stretches
and the waves crash

the waters within me are not
immune to
gravity

the waters within me are not
immune to
the ever-changing tide

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-A

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New Year’s Eve 20XX

The dog is snoring, curled up tight
On the rug. Heels lay discarded
By the door — “I couldn’t wait to
Get out of there!” The old kettle

Whistles as the two cousins — or
Are they sisters? No one in this
City building knows for sure — sit
Side-by-side with champagne ready.

The ball begins to drop. It could
Be snowing. They prefer to ring
In the New Year with Katharine and
Cary, instead. In a sea of

Open presents they make a list:
Maintain age is still a number.
Keep pushing it hard to Peru.
Finish those poor terrariums?

-L

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solstice reflections

“There is darkness all around us; but if darkness is, and the darkness is of the forest, then the darkness must be good.”

do you carry within you
a darkness? i do.

over the years, i have
carried it
wrestled it
pinned it down
named it weight i didn’t
wish to carry

all that time, i was not
understanding that
light casts a shadow
and so the two must exist
together

i work towards balance
i work towards consciousness
i work towards truth
and my truth has many shades

i sit within myself
i sit within this moment, or that
i see the darkness
and i use the light to navigate it

-A

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Reflecting on 2017

I.
destruction
for the sake of
destruction

is making me feel
helpless
and
weak.

because –
why I should I keep building up
when the top, just
tears
it
down
?

II.
Life lately
looks like me wrapped in his arms falling asleep
but then
asking if he’s awake
and also thinking of Jerusalem;

hopelessness and despair
for me
breeds inattention and apathy
in me
which I think is what t(he)y want(s);

III.
but almost a year after the march I am tired.

-L