a lesson in the garden on acceptance

what is a whole person
is it someone who did not
collapse under the weight of
brittle hair and
powdered donuts for dinner

maybe a whole person never
saw their mother run her nails
down her face by the water
fountain at the mall on a
scheduled visitation

subtle and not-so-subtle cues
tell you to to search for yourself
and complete yourself so you
can be whole and big and only then
can another person love you
so hard

but a whole person, (whoever that is)
does not have a cavern
inside them
room to fill with (sometimes) light
(sometimes) darkness
(sometimes) water
(sometimes) soil

in the garden, before the frost
i harvested butternut squash,
tomatillos, sun gold tomatoes,
painted desert corn

the squash – still green
the tomatillos – still space in the husks
the tomatoes – still unripe
the corn – still unfilled kernels

i am telling you that
i took these, in my hands
unfinished as they were

and i ate them.
and they sustained me.

-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

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

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

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

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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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

healing

TRIGGER WARNING: sexual assault

i find it in music
and self-expression

singing
crimson lipstick
mint nail polish, always chipping

still, i won’t wash my hair
*******
you are one thing, they say
you are a body
you must obey
and brush, shave, primp
tweeze, curl, straighten
cut, paint, dye, wax
apply, wash
scrub, blend

woman, you must
bleed
quietly
and
remain hidden
*******
i am a body,
for now
*******
in the background
at my desk
i fell asleep to the drone of
obsolete ideas

the old testament teaches
an eye for an eye
and Jesus said
thou shall not
steal

my catholic school uniform
white prep school collar, yellow pit stains
weekly mass,
asleep

amen, the body of Christ rose from the dead
I believe,
for now
*******
i am seventeen

please,
teach me how to say
No, I’m not ready
Respect Me
Leave Me The Fuck Alone
when he is pulling at my jeans
belittling my body with words as sharp as knives

and all I have left in me is breathing,
in and out
in and out
*******
i am twenty

please,
teach me how to sleep after
my friend tells me
she repeated no, no
over and over
*******
i am twenty-three

please,
teach me how to console
my roommate
who is still living in the past
as she came to and saw his shadow above her
through the darkness
******
i am twenty-five

please,
teach me how to explain
to my boyfriend’s friend
that it is not up to him to decide
how a person feels about their body, their pronouns,
their own self-expression
******
i’ve seen my sisters’ bodies
torn apart by expectations
and cruel, irreverent hands

i’ve seen tears
enough to
drink in our sorrow for
the rest of my days

hearts strewn, but our hands together
i’ve watched us
rise from the dead

not quiet, not hidden
open, bleeding, wounded

healing

anxiety

in the same way that
water drips from the faucet
and breath rises and falls

you are not chains, not fences
not a sunrise
nor sunset
bleeding red to black
black to red

this morning when you woke
you felt the familiar ache in your limbs
and gut

and a series of images and
sounds line the walls of your
foggy memory

what have I done?
and why did I do it?
and how will I mend what I
may have broken?

and not tomorrow
but now

and not with your thoughts
but with your
presence

in the same way that
water drips from the faucet
and breath rises and falls

you find peace

-A