fears of the fathers

sailing through cherry blossom days
and crème brûlée nights
she wasn’t going to lay down her arms
for a mere brat of a boy
saving up her trinkets for later
giving him all her daydreams
and night sweats

he did not know the tango
but they moved through summer
amid a soundtrack of Ravel
and Aguilera
all second thoughts
stuffed under the mattress

back in the town onto which
they shook the clay from their shoes
all their dues, paid
if you took into account
their mothers’ latent wishes
and the fears of their fathers

Answer: never

Jeopardy question: When is it ‘too little, too late’?

In 1989 I met a family that a year later I would become a part of. I had come from a place and family from the mid-west U.S. and was about to enter a very American-European family on the east coast. I was insecure about fitting into a family. Put me in a room with 30-100 strangers and I was the life of the party. Put me in a living room with 15 folks that were about to welcome me as sister, daughter, etc, and I had utter stage fright.

I came from a family where I had not hugged anyone in years, except a side arm hug at the airport and a bear hug from my mother who had longed for that for years herself. I entered a house where every face was kissing me and every arm was hugging me. But I still felt outside. Why?

I didn’t know how to express affection that way. I wanted it, but I was afraid of it. I questioned their motives, I assumed they didn’t accept me. Didn’t like me.

Didn’t get me.

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To-write about list

 

the fancies of my youth
snuffed out by careless usury

books with pictures
pictures of animals
animals that work on farms
and domesticated pets in houses

books full of all the words
every word that would make you stay
every word that would convince you
that what you are doing is hurting me
and the words for extra credit
that would make your mouth open and all the truth come out
so I would finally know and understand

because joy helps you to swallow

roses.jpg

each day my resolve
weakens
under a burden of years
with one truth to be
self-evident
that we did not think
everything through

in these hours
I sweep fetid memory
under his favourite chair
each moment of hell
relegated to the pantry
behind the oatmeal
no one will eat

it is best to leave way
for new sweet minutes
when I am kinder
and remember smiles
like that time
he left his tea
atop the car
and we laughed

asylum

still looking for safety
somewhere to
sleep all night
and wake without fear
inside stalwart walls
no one can penetrate

first warm days of Spring
make me nostalgic
remembering good and bad
and horrible, blended
with lies and poured into
something tall and frosty

we drank coffee for water
those days
old plumbing I never trusted
rust colored fount at day break
I let it run and hummed
breaking eggs into a hot pan

I sorted the tangled
ate what was offered
seeking asylum
with the girl I used to be
thumbing my nose
at the world

tender dreams
and sick fantasies
kept him alive
winters cold enough
to freeze off toes
dark enough to hide
what he did not know

in the catacombs

skulk around old hallways
smell the dust of forty winters
crawl through your childhood
accepting splinters as your due

be careful around open doors
don’t be pushed down to the street
your memories creeping like marines
under artillery fire of regret

your toys lined up like soldiers
loyal and true despite the wear of time
clocks wind down but go unmissed
kisses and vows resilient as sugar icing

El largo invierno acaba

(March, 2015)

Attempting to leave behind all of it
the anger, the inability to forgive-
I bathe and put on something new
I purge my body of everything toxic

How do we live as if the winter was not
how do I go on pretending you did not bruise me-
so I go, I sear with fire and cauterize the wounds
so I go, I remember how to let go of the list of wrongs

Without letting go of the wonder, the miracle
as spring takes over my house, as love fills
the empty heart chambers, still sore
and I weep for what is lost – this day

I tell you, this day is for weeping, for what
could have, should have, would’ve been-
looking for purity of heart, something
nobler than good intentions

But tomorrow, tomorrow the weeping will be put away
life allowed to flourish, love allowed to nourish-
tomorrow will be today, and the anger swept up, tucked away
put in the bin for the burning, the burning of the last

The last remains of winter

 

sworn to silence

mom said be quiet
some say
I never spoke
back then

pigtails
dresses
don’t tell
months that felt like years
took years
to get over months

is it unbearable
to not be cherished
then try to join the world
tentative
aloof, and
scared of shadows

staying mean
to keep the walls standing
in the middle
of the crowd
I screamed
my anguish

one on one
I was sworn to silence

making your brain my home

we are committed now to this journey through each others’ minds-
we took the steps and there is no backwards, no backward steps
at least until we reach the end, we’ll see it through to the end
of knowing you, stealing your thoughts until I understand your miseries-
feeling you snake through my head at times tickles, sometimes squeezes hard
in those spots where it is narrow, where I booby-trapped the entrance
every tragedy covered in shame and pushing out the light-
could you just feel your way around, feel your way about the place
so that I might have comfort and warmth where you find
Antarctica, so I could have piles of skins and a blanket of care
your wild passions and tanks against the battlements of a weary mind
and I walk-a-bout your head because you let me, and make it my home
for a little while, make it feel like home until I know you so well
I will conveniently forget where the doors are, forgetting
the front door and also the back