to emerge freer

a river is just snow that has melted
yet naked, we slowly walk in

i am timid, running back to shore
as the cold pierces my legs

yet you remain, sinking slowly
until you are kneeling patiently
in the numbing water

after a few times of running in
and back out,
i finally submerse my whole body
under the water

it takes my breath away

i know what baptism is
was raised catholic
(drilled into my brain)

but what beauty
to take my body, next to yours
into the freezing river

and to emerge
colder, lighter

what beauty to emerge freer

-A

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

truth

the hard cliff
is the truth jutting out
to meet me

i climb it
rocks fall, erode
beneath my feet

(standing on solid ground
has always been
overrated, anyway)

but what do i hope to see at the top?
each climb, the view is
different

sometimes hazy, clouded ridgelines
sometimes stormy, distant clouds
sometimes, pink and purple sunsets

the truth is not a word, or phrase
not etched into stone or paper

the truth is in the lines on my palms
the cracks in the rocks
the expressions in the sky

ever-changing, ever-shifting

begging for me to
witness

-A