Womankind

I can tell you what it means to be a woman today –

bell hooks taught me
the personal is political
maybe I rebel
by staying single
I cut my hair shorter
wear my glasses bigger
and I will get that tattoo
because they tell me not to
I met a man once
just once
with a tattoo
read bell hooks
they tell me a crescent moon
would look trashy
like they actually know the things
that have shaped and changed me:

They started calling her Cocaine Girl.
Hot mess. So sad.
How were you ever friends with her?
How do I explain that she has saved me so many times?
Maybe they have never had to
Quietly admit that what he did was assault
And have “Cocaine Girl” be one of the
Only ones to believe them.

And then there’s my cousin
Who when driving sometimes
Considered crashing into the guardrail
So sincerely that it scared her
And she called me in a panic
Because she was sure it was the medicine
But she needed the medicine
To live with what he did.

Like Walt Whitman
I think I could turn and live with the animals
Because then maybe I would not have to
Be asked to justify
Why I wore a hat
Why I said no to the date
Why I chose that dress
Why I (we)
Women are constantly evolving!

(I used to wear flowery bandanas
Every day to class
Like a hippie would
And my best friend loved it
So I posted our photo
As a testament to female friendship
But then I was asked to justify
Why I was comfortable looking like a lesbian
As if that were a bad thing.)

I just think that
Maybe
If they listened
More bluegrass
Less rap
They would see
There is more to life
Than relationships and sex,

Ask me about my
Travels
Writing
Language learning
Cooking
What book I am reading
Instead!

It is like I am an
Alien Girl
But I will continue being an
Alien Girl
For womankind.

-L

To My Sister

I try so hard to protect you but you need to know the truth.
I am sorry for that day at the beach when I laughed after that stranger put his hand on my leg.
You asked me why he did that and I said he probably didn’t mean anything by it,
but instead I should have told you what I know:
that you were right to think it was uncomfortable because it was uncomfortable
and you should never question how you feel.

I wish I could make the feeling you felt that day disappear.
The truth though is that your stomach will churn like that so many times that it will start to feel routine.
You might wonder if it’s just you or if you are somehow the cause but trust me you are not,
and it will never feel better only worse:
from a boy staring at you in gym class to a man squeezing your butt on the metro home
so you get off at the next stop and walk.

I feel like I should save you from discovering these dark things.
However I am a strong believer in knowledge as power so although you’ll suffer you should know.
By recognizing these wrongs you can give voice to pain and call for society to change,
but it will definitely not be easy:
mostly women will come to the meetings and the discussions will be mostly male panels
just remember “mostly” used to be “all”.

-L

did you know

woman,

did you know you are much more than
the brittle bones beneath your skin?
than the sun’s illuminated freckles
splashed across the bridge of your nose?

and that each time you cry out,
the stars remain
burning through
the night sky,
if only for you to
stand at peace with
yourself?
*
digging
through the dirt

stuck in my nails
thick on my skin,
my scalp
*
the truth sought after
the colors of
a spring wind storm in the desert
the smell of bread dough rising

dust, flour
dirt
grit between my fingers
inhaling

and i’m digging
and i’m digging
*
the process toward peace is,
they say,
a lengthy one

i’ll sit patiently
listen to her tell me her woes
tell her i love her
speak of her knowledge and
inner beauty

when i look in the mirror,
though
i tell her
to shut up
and get on with it
*
woman,
did you know
you are so much more than

-A

Soulmates

I met my soulmate unexpectedly
of course but I think it was fate, not chance.
People say there is someone for us all
but I never really believed in that
until I saw my own reflection in
someone else’s soul. Soulmate does not mean
romantic you know – my soulmate is the
sister I never knew I had. It was
fate that I found someone across the world
who understands why I am who I am.
Trust me it is a relief for someone
to know you well inside and out, so go
seek soulmates not just in lovers but friends.

-L

Sketch: This is a rose bush waiting to bloom.

My hands
remember the weight of charcoal
and what it takes to keep
the image from smearing.
I sketch a rose bush in early spring
when it wants to be blooming
but can’t, yet.

My eyes
capture details like they are new
as if I have just seen
bare limbs for the first time.
With each stroke they become more alive
til I understand they are
just waiting.

I finish sketching
as the day grows cold,
and as I pack up my things
I know:
roses
do not blossom into being overnight
but rather
survive the winter
to triumph in the spring,
and this knowledge that
the beauty
is in the details
calms me.

IMG_6554

-L

dust

11800514_1058492120828852_6566802562356328941_n
nevermind the dust
blowing in every direction

if you can take a breath
even if only for one moment,
you are alive
*
i graduated from eighth grade
my first kiss, a dare i chose
in a gazebo
on an early summer night

quickly, i touched my lips to his
in the middle of a circle of
eyes watching
*
the next morning
on the flight to Denver
my walkman in my lap
forehead pressed to the window

all i remember from the night before
is the rhythm of my knees shaking
in anticipation

curious
*
the snow-capped mountains
are grand in their majesty,
i learned to say

always in the distance
and my mother can’t stop sighing
in the face of their majesty

but their jagged, rocky edges
viewed from the highway
bring me no peace of mind
*
we drive south,
my mom, my sister, and i

there, the wind is sandy and strong
it pelts every inch of our skin
stinging
*
that night, the man in the campsite next to ours
has a tiny pup-tent set up,
but he decides to sleep under the stars

a salsa song travels through the
calm night wind
from a lonely bar down the road

i lay awake for hours, eyes open wide
my sister and mother sleeping soundly
on either side of me

i realize
for the first time
how much space I need
*
i awoke in that strange valley
and many years later, I call it home

space, here, is endless
in the cloudless blue sky
in the untouched fields of kochia
in the spring winds that coat my skin
with sand

but nevermind the dust
blowing in every direction

if you can take a breath
even if only for one moment,
you are alive

11889685_1066906959987368_7672297255008025855_n

-A

from the side of beartooth highway

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look for me
i am the girl who is driving a white ’96 oldesmobile across the country
with the unwashed hair, tied back in a red bandana
i carry rope, to teach myself knots
a pocket knife, because it makes me feel able

look for me in the woods, humming a John Denver tune
or under a tree somewhere, just pulled off the road
my face buried deep in this journal,
my mind pumping out words that my left hand anxiously tries to keep up with

look for me, somewhere between innocence and adulthood
the worry lines still faint across my forehead

look for me, as i stake out my independence at a furious pace
as i stumble through what it means to be alone
as i am silent, or listening, or rolling my eyes

the dirt under my nails comes from digging

look for me
as i try
to uncover
my truth

12368973_1129037390440991_5018536352205255176_n

-A