Catching Forever

Forever isn’t always measured

in the length people like to trace,

stretch a yellow line from here to there

and mark the boundaries of a love story.

Sometimes eternity has its roots in our feet

and grows down, down into the centre of this moment.

It bursts like flour in the air,

filling your vision for only seconds,

sinks as particles into your lungs;

and occasionally, years later

you still feel her in deep breaths.

She pledged forever, darling –

I know it hurts to remember.

Your own broken vow stings in tandem,

a memory of what you couldn’t complete.

 

But that doesn’t mean it wasn’t real.

 

In that incandescent bulb of time you shared,

you held a love that stretched outward

and echoed itself through the stars,

bent inward and unwound you

to that shell-pink state of softness,

replicated itself like leaves on a tree,

and just for that moment,

you knew the presence of Forever

in the corner of the room

and saw its unmistakable promise

reflected in her eyes.

Like Water Through Cloth

The earth ripples with it,

under all it runs like water –

slips like drops unnoticed.

At that first touch we shiver,

our skin unused to the shock of cold.

 

We are cloth, rough and swiftly woven,

we blow in the breeze,

dancing in the air above the tides,

fighting the gravity pulling us

into weight, a frozen drowning

of the free will we defend so mercilessly

(as if it could be taken away).

We see in water only an end to flight,

in surrender only oppression.

 

But water as it runs through cloth

is water delighting itself,

and in its tender passage

cloth is transformed.

Altered, loosened,

the weight in its spun fibres

lets it stretch and open

and pinpricks of sun reach through

till the ground below

is a mass of stars in midday.

Three Chains

Three heavy chains cross my chest

winding over sweat and tangled hair

bending me double to the floor.

Selfishness is the most abrasive,

cuts welts into my tired flesh if I move against it,

kneel to put another soul before myself –

or even on the same level.

Cowardice simply clings like wet cloth,

makes me shiver at the thought of stretching.

Those freezing rags wrapped around my bones

are enough to cement me into stillness.

Laziness droops in metal drapery around my ankles,

gathers under my feet and trips me

the moment anything requires a step out of turn.

 

It’s only skin and blood against twisted metal,

soldered iron that ties not just my limbs

buts runs around my organs, squeezing my lungs.

Must I always be this person?

Can I turn the tides in my veins

to rust down the metal,

to build dams and bridges in my soul

out of sweat and foresight,

of looking back at the plans

our elders placed before us?

Might I be better?

And can I wake each day

and believe it’s worth the strain?

Promising Emptiness

Lost in the empty noise of my desperate mind,

I close my eyes and suddenly You reappear.

I want to cry, to cling to You,

to fold myself into the space

between Your arms and I do –

Your loving hands bend and mold me

into driftwood, a sailboat,

white swathes of fabric floating

above me and You release me –

floating downstream.

 

Then the boat pitches off the water’s edge,

an end unnoticed, disappearing.

Shiva, ever gentle,

You hold Your hands over my eyes.

 

What have I not yet learned about surrender?

Why do I see time like a jailer,

above me rattling his keys?

when every day You pry open bars

and invite me with Your patient smile,

Come out, come out into the sun.

Let me care for you 

as the most doting of parents.

Why do I, so many days, choose

to stay in familiar darkness?

Victoria

We’re carving through islands,

hopping houseboats coloured

like dreams I haven’t had

since childhood.

All belongings underwater –

like turtles we’ve taken

the burden on our backs eagerly

for the chance to taste seawater.

The ruts in prairie fields we found

ourselves in no longer have

the traction to hold,

as we’ve traded our handfuls of mud for sand.

People don’t do this. But we are.

My skin and hair relaxes with

the wet abundance in the air,

and I feel the pause,

that intermittent fog of much-needed reprieve,

lifting at last.

All this time,

these dreams were so much closer than I thought.

I followed a trail of breadcrumbs,

held in my mouth the yeast and powdered grains

along with the curiosity, the longings, the long-time loves.

I followed yoga, robes, and the smell of incense,

chased the affections of friends I never have to run after,

the green moss of lands where life unfurls

in effortless plenty,

and landed here.

I plant myself in this rich, dark soil

and await the flowers that lay dormant within me.

Quiet Retreat

I’ll wear rainbow socks under blue sheets,

and make myself a sky.

I’ll wear a green shirt for the earth,

whistle for the birds, and tap

my fingers for the pad of paws.

I can form towns with a few inches of fabric,

make an ocean with my pillow,

and turn my knees into a mountain range.

I’ll mark the passing of days with a pencil

on the walls, for you if you’re watching.

I’ll see my old world only as red light

under my eyelids, a soft glow that is

all I can withstand from the place

marked to me by your absence.

In the Depths of Despair

In the depths of despair,

as the dagger twists,

I pause to say thank you.

Thank you because a look into another’s eyes

now reveals the moment the fire seared their skin,

and there is no separation between us.

Thank you because each new familiar hurt

feels less like my pain

and more like the pain that unites,

that sends us running to the arms of strangers

who are our mothers.

Thank you because always, inevitably,

the ice melts, the buds of spring return,

and the soil of my being is made

soft and fertile from the harsh cold months.