For Katherine

We send our girls across the water.  They deserve more. Change is coming.  New is coming. A new moon. A new season. A new day. A new life. It’s there. Beneath our cold, our death and our forgotten. A new chance. 

 

For Katherine

Fourteen.
Across the water
to marry a king.

Fourteen.
Across the water
to lie down for a man
and another man
and another
as they are made.

Bought for a crown,
bought for a pound
of flesh.

Sold to the first son
and then consigned
to the second.

Returned to her
room
to wait
and when the sun comes up
banished.

One job.
Make a prince

The only job.
Make him happy

Strange girl
a hood over
her eyes,
covers her hair
without words
she can hear
without words
she can say
no other way.

Gagged.

Cloth.
Rigid flesh.

Emptying her bowels
her sickness
her sin
in a pot
painted with
delicate lavender violets
in the corner of the room.

In the corner
of the rectangle.

That is her queen’s chamber.
That is her prison.

The water under her
becomes the bed under her
becomes the new green
on the grass
catching what is left
to fall.

The next day,
the next sun.
Always new.

In her old world,
she knew St. Brigid.
Imbolc.
Witches in a dream.
The turn of the dial,
the turn of the moon
and clover sprouts
again.

Then she remembered,                                                                                         in her new world.
In another place,
with another name,
as another girl
that she didn’t know                                                                                           the seasons anymore.

Are we still buying and selling
each other?

A girl
for dowry
for a boy playing soldier?

A girl for
a coin
for her virginity?

When neither ever
owned it herself,
couldn’t broker the sale,
and couldn’t own the
profits if she did.

Changing her name,
sometimes with a K,
others a C,
depending on whose
tongue is curling
around the sounds.

Changing her body,
changing her nightmares
changing her life
that was never
her.

Because she was
her.
Only her.
Never her.
These girls on the water,
drifting,
wanted so much
and not cared for
at all.

Hundreds of years
and we are still
sending our girls
to drown.

Enough have sunk.

They will walk
as their own,
with their own,
on their own
land.

Feet on the sand,
going home.

Make their path.
They’ll travel.

Drain their seas.

They won’t merely
trod on the dirt.

They will fly.

Be Nice, She Said

Be nice, she said

screamed, 

flailing, pushing

Hands flat, open, extended

In avoidance

Wondering why
He didn’t come closer. 

Be nice, she said

Cried as she brought up

imaginary, claimed forgotten

Perceived slights

From a year and a lifetime ago.  

Which never were,

But damned if she won’t use them

As an excuse to bury herself

In the dirt of hurt

Than she’s planted and tended

On her own 

Better than any lover. 

Be nice, she said

Hid behind her own 

Insecurity

Asking for kindness

Despite, undeserved,

Unreserved 

That she begs for

Without words. 

Warmth 

In her ice. 

Forgiveness

From her homicide

And her crucifixion 

To her own cross 

I can’t be nice, she said. 

I forget. 

I locked it away. 

Lost. 

Be nice, she said. 

Forget with me. 

Help me remember. 

Be nice. 

Stand

 

Stand

Good evening.

Please.

Come sit down.

No. Thank you.
I’ll stand.

Well…
here we are.

Did you want to-

Okay. That’s fine.

I’ll start.

Are you-

Okay.

Are you okay?

I don’t know.
Doesn’t seem…

I’m okay.

Fine.

How are you?

No. Thanks.
I’m fine standing.

I’m still
and I’m happy
standing.
It’s a lovely stand.
And I don’t want
need
to go anywhere now.
But I know
you’re not one
to sit.
Unless you’re
working,
writing,
making,
creating,
perfecting,
entranced
and I’m afraid

I’m not entrancing.

Here,
you’re
standing.
And I’ll stand with you.
But I’m not good
at standing.
Better at standing
than sitting.
Not a sitter.
But not good
at standing.

I need to move.
I like a path
sprinkled before me
to find me
back.
And I see too much
Pollock
to find the straight line.

You’re a sprinkle,
a splatter,
a far and wide,
see what you can
reach
where can you spread
your colors.

I want to spread
and I can’t
keep up
with your chaos.

A gift to watch
a joy to inspire
to muse
to see
as the first spectator
past the ropes.
But there’s a rope
and that means
I stand on this side.

My colors aren’t
ready yet.
Where we stand.

Where do we stand?

If I can’t get beyond the rope
I’m standing alone
agape
glassy-eyed
at your beauty,
careful of
the taped-off edges.
Laughing,
nodding,
pretending,
at descriptions,
words,
intentions
I don’t understand.

Stand.

I stand.

Staring across the rope.

Patron.
Genius.
Applauding on my feet.
Begging to be seen.

From where
I stand.

 

 

My novel Drowning Above Water is now available through Amazon. 

Bare

 

Money where your mouth is.

 

Bare

In the seats, she sits
tight,
muscles close,
curled,
covered with
layers against the fright
of exposure.

She can’t do what
they …
spread
aware
available
dare.

Where do they hide
the view inside
clear
from the back of the room?

The seams are all
she has
for protection
behind her seams
she seems
unstoppable
un-top-able.

She holds the words
and directs the steps.

She says when they
all
stop.

And she pulls her knees
in,
as the other she arches
away
from her
and they both
wish they had the words

to take away every word

she’s piled on
layer
on top of
thin on top of
thick
that isn’t deep enough.

Not enough to hide.
Not enough to…
Don’t take that off,
don’t take that away.

She moves like that
in her mind.
Unattached.
Unrestricted.
Ungartered
she gathers
the tokens,
the flattery,
the anxious
unctuous
words
for the brass
she knows them to be.

She’s cold.
Her mind
reminds.
She stops moving like them.
Starts not moving
like her.

She binds herself
again,
constricting love,
breath, belief, trust;
where those dig in her ribs,
but al least she’s the one
pulling at the stays.
And that won’t hurt
as much as
a vacant chest.

Waiting,
for another dance,
another chance,
to care enough
to let even one
see her.

Barely.
Truly.
Bare.

My new novel about vulnerability, exposure and regaining ownership of ourselves Drowning Above Water is available now through Amazon. 

A Fortress

Him: Mom, let me get under your blanket. I’m cold.

Me: It is no degrees outside. Put on some pants. 

Him: (Crawls under the blanket with me, rubbing clammy feet on mine)

Me: (Aw. And ew.)

Him: Pants are uncomfortable and I don’t like wearing them. 

Me: (Endlessly hugs the now-warm, still pantless child, who is clearly mine, and who tolerates the affection for one more second before he scampers back to his fort because sometimes too much mommy is too much. 

And we had a day in the fort with snuck-in food amongst the many pillows and too much TV. 

It was a glow of heat in the dark cold. 

And I remembered how much brightness there is. 

Repealing

 

 

I had every intention to handle this like a warrior.

A paint-covered, ladder-climbing, putty-knife-wielding warrior.

That’s not exactly how it all went.

 

After

Yes. That’s the after. I couldn’t do any more.

It looks like a preschool class painting their first flat for a school play.

But it was the best I could do. Multiple trips to fetch supplies I couldn’t afford. Almost as many panic flushes. I was done.

My best is not much. Obviously. I can write you a poem about patching a ceiling but I can’t do it in practice.

Was this mess at least better than when I started?

 

Before

Maybe.

I don’t know anymore.

The biggest hurdle was that I was going to handle this myself. And by handle, I meant just getting on with it. Not whining and whinging and lambasting my self-worth with the same enthusiasm that I used when wielding the blade of a paint scraper and the sanding block.

That hurdle, I instead smacked and took down with me as I tumbled to the ground. I sent endless texts begging for encouragement. To the point where I was disgusting myself, so I can’t image how pissed the receiver of my depressing messages must have been. I was so furious at myself that I didn’t know how to do this, how to fixed this, that I failed at something else. I

I do this every time. Every time. No matter what bobble or hardship or uncalm sea I encounter. Every little thing. Every time.  And this wasn’t even a crisis. When I came home to find this, now that was a crisis.

(For texture and amplification, it was -2 degrees Fahrenheit at the time outside the house.)

Did I handle both of these problems?

Sort of.

The heat now works and there’s not as much of a crater situation on the ceiling.

Did I beat myself up about my complete buggering of these projects?

Maybe.

Did I deserve that?

No comment.

Did I then beat myself up about my weight and my complete lack of musical or artists talent and my shit parenting job and…

Fine. You bet your sweet ass I did. Gave myself a proper run down.

I really need to stop this. It helps no one. It makes me feel worse and by doing it again, and again, and fucking again, I will push away the precious few that are willing to support me when I have legitimate crises, not just a few floating flakes of glossy enamel.

If I can kinda fix paint and more or less manage a broken furnace, why can’t I give myself a break?

That should be the easy part. Just taking away the labor I swing day in and day out that effectively chips mw down to a rubbled pile of nothing.

Even if I have nothing good to replace the absence.

A  wrong act continually enforced to the detriment of all is worth the struggle to repeal it.

The floor is open to motions.

Floor…

Floor…does that look like a hole in my floor???

Peeling Away

 

I don’t make resolutions.

I have trouble enough keeping my head above water without a list glowering at me, smirking at my inability to achieve any item scratched there on a late night in December.

Once I made a vision board. Five years ago. I still have it. I realize now, this isn’t a good supporting paragraph, as I actually achieved most of the things on that piece of cardboard. My whole thesis could be flawed and maybe I should shush, stop writing this and make another vision board.

Maybe later.

The paint on my living room ceiling is peeling. Has been for a while. I haven’t fixed it. I don’t know how to fix it. One of the troubles being the only grown up in a house is that shit breaks and you’re the only one doing the fixing. Another of the troubles, is when you don’t know how to fix shit, so you just try whatever comes into your brain for whatever YouTube says and those results range from fair to middling to disastrous.

My ceiling debacle is no exception. I’ve never repaired paint. Painted, yes. Repaired nicks in a dorm room wall that we covered with a homemade fix of Colgate and mid-spectrum foundation, yes. Actual wall repair in a room where actual people might sit?

No.

That’s for adults who know things. Capable, stalwart, accomplished humans. But, none of those  live in my house.

I tried. I scraped. I mixed. I dripped. I dripped some more. I blended. I swore. I managed to get paint everywhere in the room, including my mouth.

My mouth. I got paint in my mouth.

I’m learning to draw. (The verb learning is a stretch. Despite excellent instruction and demonstration, I now am responsible for a  handful of skull stretches that could only have a place in an Itchy and Scratchy episode.)

It makes more sense after that comparision that those skills did not translate to the ability to paint a ceiling.

I tried. I failed. I didn’t cry. (I really, really wanted to.) I didn’t send a self-deprecating text where I flagellated my self and ran myself over with my truck of personally directed hatred. (I really, really, REALLY wanted to.) I didn’t break.

That’s what I do. I get upset. I direct that sadness and disappointment back onto myself. My anxiety builds. It crests and relaxes. Then the depression gets its boots on and I deal with that for a while. Until the next metaphorical ceiling needs painted and I do it all again. It’s gleeful fun for everyone, I assure you.

The new year is made-up. Completely random selection with no consequence delegated by a pope. Probably slapped on top of a pagan holiday to ease the transition and soothe some disenfranchised group. I’m guessing. But that seems to be how these things evolve.

Old layer of paint off.

Let’s try something new.

Yes. I fucked up the ceiling.

But, it’s not broken. There’s not ice rattling down onto my couch like a freezer-built living room. I learned something. Someday this week, I’ll go back to the store and try something else. Maybe I’ll learn something else.

What I don’t want to do, is keep this pattern of bruising my spirit and drowning my soul with my own kicks and hands. It’s not fair. Not to me. Not to the ones I love, who sit under this fucked up roof with me.

If I can do that–a single choice of  kindness and forgiveness to the little chubby-cheeked blonde-haired girl that turned into this bigger, chubby-cheeked, blonde and brown and streaks of white-haired girl– a single step away from the instinct to hurt and instead looking to learn– a single instance of giving myself a god damn break…

Well–

That’s better than any resolution.

Want more stories of peeling away and looking for a better layer? My novel Drowning Above Water is available at Amazon.