I try to remember the last time I could finish a sentence without wanting to chew off my own tongue; I must have been sitting here for hours. My mother comes in places a hand on my shoulder and says “Honey, try and get some rest” I bite my tongue and tell her that I’ve been trying to rest for nearly twenty years and I just can’t seem to find a place to rest my head that fits. She sighs leaves the room, she’s never known what to say, and I am exactly like her. I fold into myself like an origami, push myself back into the shape of that summer when you started smoking and I sat in the window of that skeleton house, watched the cherry of your cigarettes bob through the field in the dark and wondered if sometimes fireflies mistook you for a light house, or a savior, or a witch hunt burning everyone they ever knew alive. I unfold, fall asunder into the bottom of my tub, stare up at the mold on the ceiling and pray that it will choke me in my sleep, an accident waiting to happen, like all the mornings I’ve almost fallen asleep at the wheel or stared for too long at a bottle of pills. Dear friend, do you remember when we were nothing, lost kids dodging street lamps and my anger, we were breathe and vapor and we couldn’t be contained except by each other. But then you left and I spread out stretched too thin, a ghost of your breathe on a January morning. I’m that skeleton house with strangers living inside. I was a lion, a vanguard and a vagabond, I fought your wars and I slayed all of your dragons, I was your safety net your personified alibi. Shame you didn’t know that you were already guilty by association. We lived on the front lines, carried grenades with the pins pulled clenched between our teeth, if we were going down, we were going down together, or so I dreamed. You were the only one who survived; my S.O.S fell on deaf ears for nearly three years before I was found buried beneath the rubble of my own land mind. I am a rabbit, a jester and a dragon. I bite my tongue to keep the fire from spilling out you were the last person I ever wanted to burn.
On my lover’s back, there are forty-three freckles. His caramel skin, flecked with moments where the sun burnt too brightly (and seared God-crafted flesh). He tells me of the days when he would run naked in the shade of mountains, wearing scarves and mittens and gumboots, but nothing to cover his modesty.
Between nature and he, there was only openness, and God saw everything.
I trace his freckles with my tongue, mapping out Andromeda, Cassiopeia, Perseus, before Dante’s Inferno bursts into a thousand fiery pieces
(and they settle inside our lungs, burning poetry and our love in order to keep us warm in the winter).
My lover has a freckle shaped like Alaska, which rests just above the corner of his lips. When he smiles, my heart thumps seismically, and my world seems to shift. Continents realign, simply because his smile ignites realms I had long forgotten in the dark corners of my heart.
After the universe has contracted, expanded— after our bodies have coalesced in the dusk— I will trace his freckles down his piano spine with my aching fingertips, and revel in the goosebumps that whisper in his flesh, for I know:
Her eyes were grey-glacier abstractions. Absentee ballots and wounds from bullets never seem to heal properly, not with this weather. And not only this, but when the moon was out last thursday night and she whispered her one line on the script, the hint of mint from under her tongue crawled up my spine and threw my eyes to the now open door, where she cascaded into the light like a confident sail, luminescent in its summer breeze and sunshine. Her hair winded down her shoulders, the lazy rivers of our eternal verano ausente. I listened silently as her ghost-green steps floated her down the stairs and out the front door. There was no hope, no requiem, no conclusion. Only the lack of something essential and haunting. And I’m wondering what to call her, for she was no lover of mine.
My mother is the type of woman who tries to hide disappointment in her bones, but it always comes leaking out, like her tears the day my grandmother laid with her last breath caught in her throat and my mother chased me from the room whispering ‘there are some things I don’t want you to have to live with’. There are still things that I’m trying to live with, like my body and mind which is twisted like the roots of that Willow tree, or at least that’s what people tell me. That’s what my mother told me the day I tried to whiten my insides, give her a clean surface to mark on, she told me I hold onto things so tightly, that that is the reason my back aches from carrying all that weight. She told me to let go. But I held on to the hostility of her words as I laid dying in her bedroom floor with my mistakes caught in my throat, and she called me selfish,I’m always choking on something. My mother is a Weeping Willow, and I am the thirsty soil just trying to catch her tears so that I can soothe her aching roots, this is my comfort song, my misunderstood love letter, my confession-guilt,and the one thousand apologies I was too selfish to make.My mind is twisted like the roots of that Willow tree, or at least that’s what my mothers told me.
“But I can rest only for a moment, for with freedom come responsibilities, and I dare not linger, for my long walk is not yet ended.”—Nelson Mandela, from Long Walk to Freedom (thanks, stubbornly-euphoric)
Sometimes I can still taste the bleach when I breathe in, and I think that maybe I’m still trying to wipe myself clean.Perform an exorcism on this body of nineteen years, and this body of nineteen years has walked across war zones, not overseas but here on the home front in the face of domestic landmines and poverty missiles. But, I am here and I have spit in the face of the devil, shame I had to wipe the mirror clean. It’s the God in me, every time she whispers ‘kiss me’ in the stained glass light of St Augustine. This is me writing honestly, this is my exorcism, my choir song filled to the brim with I-love-you’s, take me, take me, take me as I am. I am a broken rosary held in the fist of a refugee and I am Godless in the face of my misfortune I will not blame my sins on anyone but me. I am the daughter,father,mother, son of strangers I have met and I am ready to breathe clean.