Seeing the way children care for each other. Tenderness but no coddling. Breathtaking. I was with my niece and nephew today. Honorary titles but no less meaningful. We see their neighborhood friend up the street all by himself. He’s on the young side to be all alone; not criminally young, but younger than I’d be comfortable with.
“What’s Jason doing up here all by himself?”
“He does this all the time. He doesn’t have a mom.”
“I know, but he’s a little guy to be all by himself like that.”
“But he’s like an outdoor cat. You see Aunt Kiki, me and Evan…we’re indoor cats. But Jason, he’s an outdoor cat…he’s still got his claws.”
“Yeah, don’t worry Aunt Kiki, Jason can take care of himself.”
The thought of an 8 year old, still needing his claws. So he can be an outdoor cat. So he can “take care of himself.” The simplicity, the truth and the profound awareness that every child isn’t as protected and fussed over. And with that, I suddenly feel very old.
Candles candles everywhere,
And not a one to light.
Not the smallest halo
To chase away the night.
Do not fear. Do not fret.
Under the covers. Into bed.
Do not fret. Have no fear.
I’ll sit with you and smooth your hair.
Don’t despair though things seem bleak.
I’ll be with you, when you can’t speak.
Even though the night is dark,
We might just find a spark.
I won’t tattoo your sins across my heart,
Or bear the guilt and shame of what you do.
The ones inscribed inside my arms,
I wear for me and not for you.
They speak of truth and freedom sweet.
It’s not for you, that my skin bleeds.
I won’t tattoo your crimes across my heart.
These are words
I can’t take back.
Into the fray.
Into the storm.
This fabric can’t be mended
Once it is torn.
So I’ll bite my tongue
And choke on my words.
Even though it’s like
I’ll let you be who you want to be.
But you do not define me.
I’ll find my substance someplace else,
And leave you to go screw yourself.
Never mind. It’s really my call.
I don’t really care to swallow the sword
Was I wrong to cut you off
So many months ago,
To leave it with a simple text
That said “I told you so”?
Was I wrong to drive away
Before you’d made your peace?
Although, when you had been found out,
You didn’t even try.
Sitting in this quiet place,
With buzzing in my ears,
Has given me much clarity;
It’s also raised some fears.
What if I stay all alone
With none to share my joy?
But you were not a man full grown,
Only just a boy.
I imagined things as better
Even when we were at war.
If I ever feel my doubt,
I’ll remember who you are.
start out on foot.
the snow’s too thick to drive.
leaving footprints on the walk,
I watch the pigeons as they dive
from wires hanging overhead,
suspended from a sky of lead.
I pass the brave ones bearing sleds.
stinging pink and snow-kissed cheeks.
cover up the mouth and nose,
we’re all becoming Eskimos.
down, down the hill through whipping wind.
giggle whirlwind going down.
then…heavy silent sky above;
muffled sounds on powdered ground.
frosty fingers, frosty toes.
we’re all becoming Eskimos.
originally written on Feb 9, 2013
Thoughts that tumble in my head
Would go down like a lead
Balloon, in the silent room
Of things denied
And feelings fried
And all that’s left unspoken.
They’ve only just awoken.
The time’s not right
To give them flight.
They’ve settled on the floor
Next to a locked blocked door,
Waiting to be popped and stomped.
I’ll wait awhile more.
I recently moved across the country in order to start a new job, and while some parts of this transition have been difficult (namely living by myself for the first time and trying to make sure I don’t choke to death alone in my apartment) it has been a rather exciting time.
Editor’s note: choking to death alone in my apartment is a legitimate fear. When I was in middle school (ok…it was college), my father instituted a rule that I could not eat dinner while watching America’s Funniest Home Videos, because I would laugh to the point of hurting myself. For real. I choked on my food and had to give myself the Heimlich maneuver…twice.
One of the harder parts of this transition has been lacking the time to write poetry. I am working full time now, and I’ve found that a busy mind with too much solitude was the ideal environment to let my imagination run obnoxiously wild. I fear that I have lost that gift for the time being, the trade-off being living the life for which I was pining. To gain one thing often means letting go of another, but I grieve the loss of late nights, fevered dreams and furrowed brows just the same.
Last week I was thrilled to see my goddaughter Ana perform as a “bonbon” in her ballet school’s production of The Nutcracker. I was even more thrilled that while she waited backstage, she used the time to pen some poetry in her mini spiral notebook.
Below are two poems written by Ana (age 8):
I’m pretty proud to know this kid.