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?

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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.

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.

The Gifts of Guilt

The midnight blush of forgotten sins

makes me sit up in bed,

sweat running like tears

as my ego turns my spine to wood,

then forces it to splinter

so I can’t turn my head

without the reminders,

always the stab of needless wreckage to my innards

so I never lose sight of the tar I’ve soaked in.

Remember, remember the words you said.

Remember what was spilt and broken.

The only remedy is to stop turning,

to reside in the stillness

and let the shards be taken

in softness,

let the waters drip over their sides,

again and again,

until my back is curved to the floor

and my hands are thrown open.

And through the mixture of water and salt,

splinters turn at last to driftwood,

and my palms are full of softened bark,

trinkets for jewelry or a child’s game

or simply an adornment for sand.

 

To the Love I Haven’t Met

My darling,

you deserve to bloom without the clouds

of my shapeless needs looming over you.

You deserve to feel proud

of every choice you made

to become the person you are now.

You deserve to love and be loved

as much as you are able

in this split-second wrenching stay.

And I’m sorry for all the ways

my empty spaces have made that difficult.

I, too, deserve to unfurl

without becoming lost in greed

for things not meant to be mine,

or hiding from who

I was created to be.

I deserve to spread the light

this massive heart is capable of

over the whole world,

not chain it in bed

with a desperate green monster,

convinced his are the only eyes

in which connection lives.

I deserve to feel whole,

to know jealousy is an admiration

for who I am one day meant to be.

Or at worst, a fear that only

in being other than myself

could I be enough.

The path to healing is steep

and the cobblestones make it tricky

to walk alone.

Will you hold and be held

as we forgive ourselves and rebuild?

Will you walk beside me through this life?

as we teach each other

what love requires

and the bliss of being held.

The Western-Faced Compass

I fixed my happiness on it,

stamped my seal on the forehead

of a child to be born decades from that moment,

a child whose existence would solidify my own,

give weight and mortar to the ruins

my parents made of me.

But I would do it right.

I’d play my role dressed all in blue,

sigh slightly at misdoings

and know the quiet calmness

that comes from an indissoluble link,

an anchor firmly sunk into the breast of another.

 

When was the decision made?

the heart obscured to determine

true peace would be possible

only in the possession of a cradle,

the clinging to a title far too easily earned

that so often rends its holders invisible.

I am the wheel and rudders of this vessel,

and a turn from domesticity

should not disturb the waters

under this boundless fleet.

It it does, I must trouble those seasick wayfarers

to ask themselves

how my taking leave from their race

impacts their journey,

other than to remind them uncomfortably

of their ability to choose?

Fog Into Buckets

Love is buried under fear,

oceans of drops aching for

salt water –

how can I explain it to them?

even as my own mind refuses the truth.

I cast spells with my breath

that clear my sight for a movement,

but it’s like trying to shove fog into buckets,

or run water uphill:

all the forces I’ve been told are natural

course against my will.

Yet I keep hauling thickened air

and tipping it overboard,

sketching dams and dragging logs

to direct creeks,

and even as people shake their heads

and mutter its hopelessness,

I feel the strength in my arms

from lugging buckets and wood,

the quickness with which my brain

picks out alternate routes,

the thickness of hope I’ve built up.

I glance at the rivers

streaming wild and rapid,

and the grey forgiving wall of mist,

and smile at what the world has made of me –

wild and forgiving strength.

It was me that was built for change.