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Tonight I will give you yourself.

All those pretty words you spun

into negligee, all those promises

you strung like pearls and then

tightened around my neck, all

those lovely leashes you made

out of praise, I give them back.

 

I have always loved being naked.

I think this is what you loved

most about me, too. Once. No one

is at fault for this strange game

of dress up we’ve been playing.

Perhaps it is what we were taught to do.

I unlearn this game. I want to give

you you. I give you your

own nakedness. Any robes

of hope I put on you, I untie

them. See them slip into soft piles

on the floor. Look at you now.

I see I never saw you before.

 

Out the window, winter is melting.

Everything loses its sheen.

I tried to hate you for the ways

you bound me, though the bounds

were beautiful. Now, all I can feel

is the thrill of this body so bare,

so new. I stare at my feet, my hands

and marvel at how they move.

Is this me? I never knew her.

I know her so intimately.

 

It is almost sweet now, so innocent,

how we tried to dress each other in dreams.

We didn’t know then that even

the softest words become chains.

I give you yourself, your longing

to be loved in the ways you thought

you needed. I give me myself,

I don’t know what that means,

already I am shedding.

 

 

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Some Never Learn

Don’t think I don’t see you

scampering across my kitchen floor

with that scrap of yarn you’ve stolen

from my old green scarf,

you with your jumpy eyes,

your cold twitchy nose.

Don’t think that I don’t hear you

scratching in my inner walls

with your ever-growing teeth

and your tiny piercing claws.

I still run my fingers

across the thin scars.

And don’t think that just because

I took the cheese out of the trap

that I meant for you to come around.

Don’t think it was on purpose

that I left that piece

of lemon cake beside the bed,

the kind with cream cheese frosting,

the kind you told me once that you like best—

that time when you so sweetly curled

into my hands, your fur as gray as morning light,

I remember, so silken, so soft.

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What She Really Wants

When she is drought,

be rain, and when

she is rain, be cup.

When she is lost,

let her be her own map,

and when she is wind

be wind. There are trees

in her, no, whole orchards.

Be soil and sunshine and bee.

When she is seed,

be time. When she

is moon, be sea.

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Love,

Though I am undeniably broken

I come to you with no need to be fixed.

I come to you the way one river

meets another river—not joining

out of thirst but because

there is so much power

and beauty in giving oneself

to another, in moving

through the world together.

I come to you the way the half moon

comes into the yard—I could be more

whole, but in the meantime,

I will bring you everything

I have.

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Who Am I to You?

please, not the book

about jazz sitting pretty on the shelf—

let me be the hard-swinging

restless improvisation

slipping right off the known scale

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One Confession

hold me, I say

then put on a dress

of thorns—

blood on your cheek, your hands,

I kiss you there

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Take off your hat. Take off
your smile. Take off anything
you put on to impress me.
Bring me your eyes. Bring me
your Sunday morning. Bring me your
open hands. Let us sit. It does
not matter much if we speak
or do not speak. What is there,
really, that must be said?
Outside the snow is melting.
We both know it will come again.
Outside whatever birds are still here
are not moving from tree to tree.
There is nothing moving, it seems,
but we both know that the world
is made of change. Give me
your weight. Give me your
light. Give me your fear
and your grays and your yes.
And here, here is my sunrise.
Here is my spiral. Here is my apple
tree, my brittle bones, my
deepest well, my empty glass.

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Little Lie

Today it is blessing enough
that I did not drop the green vase,
did not lose my son’s place in his book,
did not spill the full bottle of wine nor trip
on my own feet while running, did not fall into a puddle.
So much that didn’t happen to be grateful for.
We did not get lost in the corn maze for hours
without our warm coats. I did not drop a baby.
The river did not overflow its banks. The raspberries
were a little sour, but at least they had no mold.
And as for that sweet thing that you didn’t say
that I wished you would have, well,
that detail seems so small amidst all these other
wonderful things that didn’t happen
that it’s no big deal you didn’t say it.
I barely noticed it was missing at all.

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Apology

Sometimes I forget that you
are already whole. I imagine
that I might fix you. I apologize
for this. It rises not from what
you’ve done, but from my lack

of grace. In the riverbed, look,
not a single rock is out of place.
In the field, every blade of grass
is exactly where it’s supposed to be.
I can tell myself this—but

I have not learned the art
of leaning into the world
exactly as it is. I make up exceptions.
I make up my rules. I think
I know something. And then

I trip on my certainty,
my pretty shoulds lose all their feathers.
Oh this practice,
it disarms us so perfectly,
this practice of loving each other.

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Walking into the snow
we speak in plain language.
This is all I need.
What could be more important
to say to each other than,
How are you doing?
and then take the time
to really listen to the answer,
and to the answer beneath
the answer.

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