Skin Deep

I sheered the black sheep,
That wool itched so, anyway.
It weighed me down in the heat of your indifference.
Woven cloak of your shame.
Your shame,
My other name.
Awarded to me like a trophy,
By you, my referee
How dare I not do as you did,
Unpresentable me.
Not draped upon the arm of a rich man,
Not sipping from a golden shoe.
Pride is a subtle thing,
A fragile wing on a tiny creature.
And subjectivity forgotten,
In the law of your land.
The tragedy of funerals had,
with empty graves.
Burying the dead,
while they still walk and talk,
But not to me.
And what beauty I inherited from you,
You, who bore me here.
I can only show
In pictures
and a looking glass.
Faded memories
And broken dreams.

Forgiveness

01

 

 

 

 

 

And the Moon said,
I forgive the Sun for not shining his light upon me all of the time,
for it is the lack of light that gives me my definition.

And the Moon said,
I forgive the darkness for not hiding me thereby betraying my presence,
for it is the shadow that gives me my fulfillment.

And the Moon looked to the great Seas,
and said,
You mesmerize me with your undulations as you dance to my music.
But in that, I forgive you for that which you reflect back to me,
All that I hate in you, for it is I that I see,
For you also reflect that which I love, and that is also within me.

And the Moon regarded the Earth,
and said,
You who keep blocking my view of the Great Father Sun,
I forgive that I cannot see all of your beauty,
for His light is often upon your back
And I only get to see a hint of all that you are.

And the Moon said,
Oh, time, you who I both demarcate and am bludgeoned by,
It is you who has left so many marks upon my skin,
Not the stones thrown at me and upon me.
I forgive the pain of all of the years,
for it is you who has given me my character.

And the Moon said,
I forgive that I change every day,
for in this I am always the same.
It is this rhythm that the drums of the people sing back to me.
It is this motion that gives them the gift of dance
and it is this that is Love.

Kin

It is impossible to know

anything about you.

So I make it up

in my head.

So many things

you’ve said,

in my imaginings,

undaunted by your silence,

you speak volumes

to me.

Endlessly parading,

dream-like,

I know you better,

then you know yourself,

you told me once.

I laughed,

embarrassed.

I study you,

holding you in my hands,

your black and white image,

forever young,

Forever bold,

forever mine.

The Good Mother

You lay upon me,

so small and heavy,

as I shook with the strain

of your shimmering arrival.

Tenderly, I held onto you,

crushed by the weight of

my duty,

awed by the power of my love

for you,

this delicate creature,

a part of my body,

yet separate,

my child hand huge

in your miniature grasp.

Together, we forged new discovery.

Each of us traversing terrain,

foreign,

I sheltered you from monsters and villains,

fought them off,

or tried to,

enraptured by your

blossoming mind,

ravenous curiosity,

enduring pursuit of

the next adventure.

My love a cavern,

so deep and loyal,

I could get lost in it,

reminding myself I

had to let go,

to not strangle the flower,

to not cage the bird,

yet how could I know,

that with my love freely given,

you would cast me off,

like so many spurned belongings,

boxes of things

left behind

as you hopped from place to place,

me,

who smiled as you tasted your

first fruit,

your face alight with wonder,

who hugged herself,

arms tightly wound,

as you were carted away

for the first day of school.

Discarded,

rendered mute,

by the coldness

of your indifference.

You buried me

in a grave

of your Self.

Gratuity

You feed me platitudes,

from an outstretched

robot arm,

like fine chocolates,

wrapped in shiny

foil, nuts and nuggets

sweet but suspect.

This arm reaches me

through bars on my

window,

a jail of your dis-ease,

and I realized

that the arm

is not your own,

it floats disembodied

upon your

nuance and diplomacy,

assigned there to

reinforce the captivity

your disdain has created for me.

A convenient arrangement,

but I no longer eat the chocolates,

as they pile up

beneath the bars,

like defecation from

a mechanical Easter bunny.

And as I try to break out

of this jail of my own

lack of understanding,

I shed tears of

not knowing

what it was I did

to be sentenced here,

to a term of

isolation,

solitary confinement,

watched over by

this robot arm of your

convenience.

An arrangement I somehow

signed onto,

without meaning to.

And I discovered

a fissure in the wall

of my own disillusionment,

a barrier of self-doubt

and self-deprecation,

self-blame being the

strongest mortar ever made,

and I chiseled at it while

the arm dropped its

offerings

upon the altar

of the gods of Cowardice and

Lies of Omission,

and I chiseled at it

until I made a hole

big enough to see through

to the other side,

and with sentimentality

biting at my toes as I

forced my way through,

I escaped into unfamiliar

terrain.

A new beginning

of realization,

that it was not me all along,

it was you.

Life is a Dream

I was planted in a field of masochistic mannequins

each made mute by the mask that overwhelms

our tightly bound faces.

Eyes shift left to right as we regard each other

from heads bound forward,

tight smiles painted upon faces that

nod approvingly up and down

in small, stilted movements.

It’s cordial.  It’s proper.  It’s polite.

We look alike, especially from

our sideways glances.

We should.  We are related.

There are walls that separate the kindred

into sections like pens

in a feed lot of misunderstanding,

dislike,

contempt.

Wearing platitudes on tags

around our necks

of professed gratuity.

We were planted there,

each with a number,

a lineage,

a placeholder of an ideal.

Trusted to carry on the

traditions

of silence.

We all stand there

as if waiting for something.

What is it we are waiting for?

Time ticks by, annoying as

it disturbs our cherished

awkward silence.

Impatient taps from restless

feet echo in the dimly lit room.

I squirm, uncomfortable.

It occurs to me that no one

ever told me why?

Or who this protocol

was set by.

It occurred to me that the iron grip

across the back of my neck

hurt, and that by turning and using

the muscles and the bones,

encased in the plastic that bound me,

might set me free of this

tyrannical propriety.

A loud pop and crack

sounded as I broke

the case that trapped me,

and it occurred to me that I could

make weird faces and didn’t have

to mimic the smiles that

surrounded me, forced as they were.

I detected hushed murmurs from

the field.

Cracks formed on the edges of eyebrows

raised in speculation.

Shadows were cast,

and tiny glows, like a light left on

in a closet began to filter towards me.

Stiff from the rigidity, I crept slowly around, playing

hide and seek with myself

between the legs and bodies of other mannequins,

some so tall I couldn’t see their faces.

A few I poked,

running away and peeking at to see if

they noticed.

One I tipped over

accidentally.

(Sorry.)

One tripped me

(on purpose?)

Tiredly, I felt

a yearning in the muscles

in my face.

A twitching spread

and sounds came out

that shook me,

and frightened me,

and then silenced me again.

With this new found voice,

I stated quietly,

“Not me.

I did not agree to

live in a cell,

alone.”

Tortured mannequins.

Containment suits

of wired fragments

of feelings

wound in balls,

like balls of yarn,

so stuffed away

that the colors of

the beautiful threads

are hidden,

tangled and despised.

So soon you

embrace the coffin?

So soon the stiffness, the stillness,

the coldness?

Can you not hear the child within

you, the one who came here

with purpose and intention?

With love?

Weren’t you the ones

who taught me that

differences were special?

If we can cultivate our palate

for strange drinks and

plates of foods that frighten

the best of us,

why can we not cultivate a taste

for each other?”

These things I muttered, shuffling among them.

I came to a door that led into another room.

I entered there, shaking the stiffness from

my limbs.

There were shadows and shapes of people

sitting at a large table

playing cards.

I squinted at them,

one by one,

and came to recognize

their faded features as

people I’d seen in

photographs; gray and old,

torn and yellowed.

A man gestured for me to join them

and I sat in a wooden chair,

too large for me,

but comfortable.

It creaked when I sat,

and I smiled at the faces

of my dead ancestors.

They smiled and nodded,

each in turn.

“Why are they like that?” I asked

the room at large.

They looked toward the door I’d

come through with one motion.

“They don’t have much time,”

they said, voices a chorus

of history.

“We were the same way,” a short and scrappy

woman said.  She smiled and winked at me, taking a bite of

crabapple pie.

“What changed you?” I asked.

“We’ve got all the time in the world,” she said.

I was puzzled, and spotted another door.

I rose and walked towards it.

Entering, I stopped inside,

seeing faces I recognized

as the banished.

Some were dead, and some alive.

They eyed me wearily.

Some I knew.  Some I didn’t.

“What is it all for?” I asked.

“We play cards with the others,”

one of them said.

“Sometimes.”

“I see,” I said.

I didn’t.

Petunia

“Petuni’s,”  Grandma called them.

I put them in the window box

lovingly,

as if I were tucking her into bed.

She could lie there,

snug and warm,

soaking up the summer sun

with a quilt of pinks and purples,

laced together with fine green stitching.

My fingertips pressed the earth

around their vibrant stems,

buds giggling like children,

in my Grandma’s dreams.