Debutante

She had a baby girl,

eyes like her mama,

smile like her daddy.

She moved the mountains

every mother comes up against,

built muscles of stone for her children.

To the daughter,

she made mothering look easy.

Baby Girl marveled at the way

Mama cooked without measurements,

survived without compliments,

changed for those she loved

without a tear

or a hair out of place.

Baby Girl liked lists and recipes,

tugged at sleeves for begged niceties,

drank gallons of water to replace all

that seeped over her eyelids,

and had a secret

she couldn’t ever change.

She didn’t want to break Mama’s heart.

But one day a door in Baby Girl’s chest

that held back acres and years

– of glossy lingerie ads and

unspoken questions about the

the way hips feel under satin
or the urge to brush long hair
back from a girl’s face –
it cracked down the middle
and every private keepsake
came tumbling out,
out where Mama could see.
And in Mama’s chest
another door burst,
and years of dreams for Baby Girl,
of trimesters and white dresses
and chats with Mama
over tea while Husbands
talked outside,
spilled out over the floor.
And though Mama tried to hide it,
it did break her heart,
and Baby Girl felt the fracture
as if no time had passed
sine they were two hearts
sharing one body.

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The Price of Stardust

I’m not interested in watching figures

accumulate on a back-lit screen,

the modern day fairy tale,

perceiving abundance in counting zeros.

I try to outrun the voices

of well-meaning role models

who sit on both sides of

a whole neighbourhood of fences,

whispering the soundest of advice

while I’m just laying the foundation

of a Lego brick fort to hold my opinions.

I’m not interested in money.

When I lean in for the sound of my own voice,

spoken in code decipherable

only by the white noise of 3am,

worry seems as distant as a memory

looked at from underwater,

yet I walk bent over from

the headlock fear has me in.

We make for a comical pair:

me hunched, doing mental math

and muttering numbers at the ground,

him giggling at my dogged persistence

and eating Cheetos so orange flakes

collect in my hair.

I never wanted to be rich.

I want to dance in a red dress

through a golden sky,

to count all the stardust I will never own;

to have the freedom to look

as long as my eyes allow, at the sun.

I want to pull coins from my pockets

and see them turn to rocks in my hands,

throw them to the lake

and see all the waters rise with their weight,

just that little bit.

That would be enough.

Does someone have a estimateĀ for that?

 

 

 

P.S. If you like, check out my Etsy store and support The Humane League!

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She Reminds Me

My best friend is a prism.

It’s almost a party trick.

Have her walk into any room

and she’ll find the light where

it’s creeping through a windowsill

and bend it into rainbows

that bounce off the walls,

so you can almost hear the shimmer.

People blink and shield their eyes,

and I smile as in the usual way,

someone approaches her –

probably someone who gave up on rainbows

when they were very young,

and is now wondering if they could be more

than just a childish dream.

 

My best friend is a jungle queen.

In the treetops with a skirt

made of palm fronds,

she twists vines around her arms

and mixes her own paint,

trying to match the colours of the parrots

and cockatoos and birds of paradise

at her elbows.

She draws vividĀ peace stripes on her cheeks

then kneels to adorn the faces

of her adopted babies,

child after child with matted hair

and eyes that have seen too much,

taken under her expansive, feathery wings.

 

My best friend is an elderly monk.

On the mountaintop of her mind,

she sits in simple white-green robes,

listening to the roll of her breath

and the wind, uniting them.

She forgets herself up there,

sighs in her personal bliss,

then starts the slow descent

back to earth,

back to toil and pain and lost socks,

back for the rest of us.

 

But best of all, my friend is

the keeper of my most private memories,

a golden birdcage with wide-set bars

in which I’ve placed the shyest butterflies

of my soul, and where I know they are safe.

For the rest of my life, when she laughs,

I’ll feel thirteen again,

and recall the summers of pizza pretzels

and slurpees and 5-cent candies

in brown paper bags,

weekends of movies in our parents’ basements

and stories about boys

and confusing thoughts about girls.

When she laughs I’m reminded

that no matter what,

there will be movies under blankets

and sugar-induced brain freezes

and jokes only the two of us will understand,

jokes that make me think for a moment

we are still that young

and life is still that simple.

 

 

 

P.S. If you like, check out my Etsy store and support The Humane League!

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Letter to My Little Brother

Little Brother,

I know you’re scared.

I know the world has handed you

an outline of the life

you’re expected to live,

placed stickers shaped like

black footprints on the floor

in front of you and declared,

March.

And you, Little Brother,

with wide eyes and sweaty palms,

still stand looking at the floor.

When was it our feet became glued

and stapled to the things we know for sure?

The bigger we became,

the bigger the world,

in sync with us, grew,

till it towered over our tiny blonde heads,

that just yesterday

were bobbing in rock pools

and bent over acrylic paints

and blank pieces of paper.

 

I know, Little Brother,

we haven’t been getting along.

But the truth is

your fear is a mirror,

and I’m too ashamed to look

for long in your reflective gaze.

I, too, am clutching the checklist

I never asked for,

still hesitant to throw it away.

Fear, like a double-headed snake

keeps us hiding in the shadows,

crippled by what we’re told we must do,

yet desperate not to disappoint.

We never even thought to don armour together,

walk into battle side by side.

When the villain has two faces,

why wouldn’t it take two heroes to finish him?

 

Maybe the problem isn’t that

we don’t know how to move,

but that in a time where the lines

between “you” and “I”

mix into each other like vapour,

we’ve simply forgotten how to do it alone.

So Little Brother, can you try one more time

to pick up your sword?

I’ll help defend your heart,

if you help defend mine.

And perhaps with alternating

strikes and feints,

we might best the beast together

and find above what we thought

was a wreckage,

a spot to stand as one

and tell in a smile

the worries we couldn’t put aside for ourselves,

that were so easy to shed for each other.

 

 

 

P.S. If you like, check out my Etsy store and support The Humane League!

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Day 33: Someone Special

This dream of someone special drags me down

like a black horse with lantern eyes

to an underground cavern steeped

in chill and ankle-deep water.

Somewhere a pipe drips and echoes

as the mare tosses her head,

and the light seems to flicker.

This happy ending detoured

halfway to paradise.

Were we ever headed that way?

or was it just the hungry cry

of my bones that put hooks

in your heart and called it love,

waiting for you to drag me home,

bleeding all the while.

I’ve touched pleasure

till it’s sore and swollen

then shamed it before

the world for ceasing delivery.

This isn’t the love I promised

or dreamed of soaking in

till my fingers got wrinkly.

 

This passion demands and aches

and shows my love

by bending my ribs outward

and asking you to cover

my gaping need.

So without you cold rushes in,

dust and pieces of gravel

stabbing my innards,

even in a room full of friends.

I guess love just hurts.

 

With you near, I had you so high

on the pedestal I built

I could barely make out your face

let alone hold your hand.

As you in turn placed me up

we lost track of who was higher

and who was lower,

and even when we met in the middle

it was only to notice our reflection

in the other’s eyes was gone.

 

Equal was sacrificed gladly for love,

since only love would satisfy.

But like settlers off the boat

with rich prairie fantasies,

we’d marveled at love’s possibilities

and found ourselves on bare, dusty ground.

There was always better,

until there became here.

 

Let me learn one day to love

love’s humble rolling hills

and level playing fields,

to lose track of paradise

in a kind word.

May I seek fullness not

by cracking ribs outward

but by noting the stars

they already contain.

May I see them so well

that one day if we meet again,

instead of looking for ourselves,

we seek out the comets

in each other’s eyes.

With gauze on our chests,

may we take our time

and instead of stripping love naked,

making ready to devour,

may we stop long enough

to politely ask its name,

and listen with great tenderness

to its story.

 

 

 

P.S. If you like, check out my Etsy store and support The Humane League!

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Day 32: Snow in January

Art buds in baby roses

on the limits of my hands

reaching out for elements

until I clutch them in prayer to my lips

to save them from the crush

of closing doors.

The road ahead wavers,

horizon in the desert,

and on either side businessmen

and professionals call

the name they think is mine

with promises of things

I’m not sure I need.

And all the while

through my ribs

I hear the whisper of poetry,

sultry as red silk,

come back to bed

As the clothes fall threadbare

around my knees

and the houses get smaller,

the city streets know

the tread of my bare feet till dark.

And only then I return to four sweet walls,

remind them they are

a place to lay my head

so the words can slip into my ears

and form simple dreams.

This gentle ambition

soaked in through my pores

is growing louder than the voice

of the coward who lives in me.

And I’m beginning to trust

the questions to these answers

are already on their way,

sure as snow in January.

 

 

 

P.S. If you like, check out my Etsy store and support The Humane League!

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