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?
once, i remember, and will not soon forget
the filthy car he had to start with a spoon
driving me home to the cabin one night,
i am throwing up all over the car floor,
all over my feet
and when she said,
“to love someone is to feed their spirit”
i think i understood
that i have been loving wrong
all these years
in my bones lately,
i ache for green, wet earth
that stains the bottoms of my feet
that lives under my fingernails
that offers light in the form of
once, singing on the concrete steps,
people pass by
and we gather our stray dollars and nickels
for a 6-pack of pbr
years later, you tell me one morning
that you have a problem to name
in the bottle of wine and
eight beers you drank last night
and once, singing in a quiet pizza place
she steadies my hands before we sing, together
“i’m so lonesome i could cry”
scattered, i find myself in the desert
but pieces of me float around
stretching from the potomac river
to the rolling green hills
and all the way to the high valley
surrounded by rocky peaks
and all the places in between
so as i walk back and forth to and from
the mailbox each day
in my loneliness i remind myself what
she once told me
“to love someone is to feed their spirit”
Every first of May I remember
that night we ended up at a bluegrass show
and it felt so natural to stomp and holler
and you twirled me around then we left to make love
Because it had to be love, even though we weren’t together
or else I don’t think I’d be writing about it now
And the memories they all blend together
that wasn’t the first of May, but it was spring
do you ever smell a certain perfume and remember?
or feel a certain breeze and find myself transported
back to any night in a city older than I could ever fathom
Where I learned that I am meant to fall in love with
many moments and places
I have been itching to leave, but then yesterday I remembered
that I love this place in the spring
and I have loved on that bluegrass night
and other places in the springtime, too
It is like how the other day at the women’s art museum
there was an exhibit of photographs from the Southwest
and I recognized a black-and-white mountain
that I saw brown and white snow-capped
when I grew fond of a place for a week and forever
Some days I am starving and on others I eat too much
til I am so full I feel empty
I think memories are like that –
I hunger for more but then I also feel
so full and then sad that I do not remember
the specifics but instead let them blend together
But I know that although I cannot place
the exact day of the bluegrass dance
I write it on the day of the Spanish festival in the valley
In the springtime to melt with the other places and people I have loved then.