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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

“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