Twelve

Twelve is such a frantic, explosive age

To be surrounded by it is to be reminded of the passage of time

I recall my own fierce tempers and mood swings 

My fragile friendships,

As passionate as any fairy tale and with, it seemed, as many ogres.

Laughing at jokes that were only funny if you were there, I guess

Being the one who wasn’t there more often than not

The first to fall asleep and the first to wake at every sleepover. 

Confused by crushes and boys and subtexts and the whirlwind of evolving teenage language

Blessings on the lack of internet related communication

Paper note passing was fraught enough

 

I see myself now

Still the first to fall asleep and the first to wake up

Still able to forget to check under the bed, to forget toothpaste

To feel unsteady when not in on the joke

Sensitive, but able to convince myself that time will heal

Desperate to turn my ears off and read a book

In love with my friends and afraid of losing them

Appearing, to the young ones,

As a confident Adult who has Answers to Questions

Who Remembers to Do Things

And I am grateful for the reminders

That let me see how far I have come

But also how I have stayed the same. 

 

* I haven’t written in a while and wanted to force myself to get something, anything, down on the page. School field trip had me ruminating a bit.

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Kitchen-Table Prophecy

She was fed a story as a child
Standing in her grandmothers’ kitchen
Between two old, knife-scarred, wooden tables
Munching on fresh-from-the-oven buttered bread
“This one will fall in love hard and all at once”

She swallowed it whole
Between bites of bread
And let it take root
In her self-mythology
One day, she would fall in love
Hard and all at once.

When she fell
With a passion that seared
Leaving her heart skipping beats
And her breath catching
It seemed to confirm the kitchen-table prophecy

And when she fell out
And pulled the pieces of herself back together
She cursed the story
For surely it meant she
Would not fall again.

“All at once”
Does not mean “once”.

As she learned on another day
When time had mended the shattered pieces
And a love walked in
And she fell hard and fast
All over again.

And one day maybe
All at once
All over again.

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Ink

At this keyboard, my fingers are stalled
My brain is tripping over words
Putting sentences together
That I quite like the formation of

Can hardly remember how you once tasted on my lips
How I gasped to kiss you and reconcile the feeling
that my breath was consumed while my being was shared

But it stops there and refuses to cohere
To make the leap from sentence
To sense

On paper, it’s a different story
But like hell I’ll let you see
Where the poem goes
When it’s written in ink

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Paying attention

You were talking
Saying something interesting
Truly, it was
I was paying attention
I swear I was
It was just a moment
When I noticed your hands
And how they move when you talk
And how somehow
They are large and delicate at the same time
And they trace stories as they move
And then I just momentarily noticed
Your neck, outlined with soft hair,
And your collarbones,
Just where your shirt buttons meet
And how they are horizontal with your jaw
And your jaw is in line with your lips
Which I have been watching this whole time
Because, clearly, I’ve been paying attention
To the words you’ve been saying
Not the shape of your lips as they form the words
Or the lazy gaze of your eyelids
How do they do that?
You sound so interested and calm all at once
How do your eyes stay calm and intense at the same time?
But clearly, obviously, I’m paying attention to what you’re saying.

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Yoga

I’ve got gym clothes on
And I’m laying, “stretching” out on the mat
waiting for class to start
As people around me set up
I’m proud of myself for making it here.

It’s been a long day
I had to repeat myself 15 times
15 times a day to my students
And then they giggled at me
when I misheard them once.
It hurts the same way it did when I was 13
And someone laughs at me
For not hearing them right the first time.

I was rude to a coworker
Because they called out
From behind me
As I was walking down the hall
I wasn’t ignoring you! So sorry!
I just didn’t hear.

The guy in the corner is doing a headstand
Fancy him.
I’m going to keep laying here
Waiting to be told what to do.

Then, there was the indignity
of being shown a video in staff meeting
Without subtitles
Yeah, no, I didn’t get any of that.
It’s okay, I got the gist. Don’t worry about it.

It’s been a long day
I just need to stretch out and exit my brain
Stop cataloguing small anxieties

Yoga teacher arrives
Starts setting up the music
The music is loud. Bad sign.
We all sit up in lotus position
And they start talking
Hello class, as we begin, bring your palms to your heart center and focus your breathing
As you focus your breathing, pay attention to your body and how it feels today
Inhale-exhale-inhale-exhale-inhale-exhale

Now take a moment to dedicate this class to something as you exhale….

Goddamnit
I’m going to dedicate this class
To the idea that one day
A yoga teacher will speak loudly enough
For their damn deaf student to hear them.

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Home is

Home was the pages of a good book
Curled up on a  couch
Sound off, the world disappearing
As I learned what kind of person I wanted to be

Home was your blue eyes and quick laugh
Touching your neck as you drove
Bright summer sun in a car and
Dancing in the living room

Home was the grey stones and twisting closes
Golden light breaking through clouds
Tea and scones on windy days
A city map that felt like it was engrained in my blood

Home is you
Walking alongside you
Texting you when I am almost in tears
Knowing you’ll make me smile
And help me breathe
Home is you
Sharing silly articles and jokes
Shouting book recommendations at each other
Bottles of wine and cheese
Falling over laughing
Home is you

It was never the address of my street
Or the country in my passport
Or even this spot on my couch

In this way, I have never left home
And home has never left me.

 

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Grow

My mother grew me
Hair, bones, teeth and skin
Incubating in her stomach
Nourishing an idea of a person
For nine tender months
Until I burst forth
Like a hideous, shriveled raisin
And became real

My mother grew me
She gave me yellow and white food
Because I refused other colors
She made me a strawberry cake
Because strawberries are in season in June
I ate it even though it was pink

My mother grew me
“Come here, let me teach you to make…”
“ghruuuuuuuuuhhhhhh, do I have to ma?”
Now I stand at the stove
Smashing garlic with a knife
Throwing in salt and too much olive oil
And remembering those lessons

My mother grew us
Her stomach carried three ideas
She nourished us
Within and without
And seasoned us with her joy
With her tears and frustrations
Spiced us with laughter
And dancing

Our mother grew us
She fed us and taught us
That feeding someone is one way to say
I want you to be well
I value you
I love you

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