Monthly Archives: May 2012

Like Palming Coins Underwater

Sometimes I imagine waking up and finding the world is spinning upside down. I think I could fall then through the sky, the clouds, and I would never again reach the ground. This feeling reminds me of you most

and now and then I think about all of the ways in which I have counted my breaths held up when passing graveyards, or underwater when I was trying to see if I could ever get some kind of closeness to Houdini.  I used to want to be the world’s best escape artist. I know how to slip out of handcuffs and pick locks and I know how to miss people because escape is always about leaving and going away and being apart and

I never thought that I would never want to escape from you. When I imagine how I looked out once at the lake and thought it might rise up and swallow this city, I thought of how ghosts must feel when it rains and still no one thinks about them. I used to think I’d never make a promise to you that I’d try to remember you but

the thing is I think I would. There are so many things I try to remember exactly: the feel of jelly shoes on my feet at age seven and the way they hugged the arch of my foot and the way that valley mud always felt so cool and the color of the sky before it dipped into a storm and the taste of Cherry Chantilly Cake filled with cream and sugar and it never taste as good when one is any age but five and a half. I can’t name the color of your eyes, not exactly. And so I’m afraid I’ll lose that color too. Sometimes,

I think that everything I know about escape was only a preparation for loss. And I want to say to you that you shouldn’t let me rip up playing cards because when the magic trick doesn’t work they won’t ever come back to me whole again.

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A Piece of Parsley

She looks for crumbs,
feeling she’s dropped something.
But she can’t imagine
the drop of her childhood
memories before she was seven—
her mother’s hands outstretched,
covered in seashell rings—
or the drop of her first kiss—
his lips tasted salty but sweet,
like caramels in France—
or the drop of her reflection
that one time she thought
she was truly radiant—
hair curled from sleep, the
red of her skin where she
had slept pushed against him—
or finally the drop of the night
she spent lost in dreams of
some city—
the streets filled with bodies,
the streets filled with stones.
She sees the flash of green,
curled, waiting to be picked up.
She thinks it must be all
that has fallen.

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Overheard Mistranslation

I hear that you used to ache

put your hands up and tried

to push out at the weight of the air.

You told them you were no one and

that you were everyone. You believed

that tricks would save you like in folk tales and there was always a way to get

out of this.

I hear that you used to ache

and that you always listened to the dying as they yelled out,

“Hey, my love, hey.” And it echoed

even as the dead left you face down in

the lake like a precious stone skipped

off with a careless toss.

I hear that you used to ache

and that you detailed seashells

but they kept jumping from your

fingertips and coming unwhole.

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Paths through Forests in Stories

How do we know we’re headed in the right direction?

I took the path of needles

and when the wolf bared its teeth at me

I thought that

everything was going to be alright because wolves, wolves only devour in fairy tales.

And when I wanted to tell you that I thought I might be in love with you, I didn’t because it was foolish and I was foolish too many times and sometimes I think about you and it’s like being underwater and hearing music and only the fish can understand the words.

And there is this story

about the water of life

and you have to walk up a mountain of broken glass

and past all of the pebbles

that are the souls of men

and you can’t turn to them,

you can’t ever turn to them or you’ll just be a stone, too.

And I thought about how I wanted to taste your skin. How I wanted my mouth to meet yours. I thought that falling was the hardest thing. But it isn’t really. The hardest thing is that sometimes you can’t stop falling. You just pirouette through the air forever and you never once hit the ground.

There are stories about

girls who get turned

into trees, into sea foam,

into statues.

In tales, there is always

the divine moment when

everything is returned to

everyone. The sleeper

wakes, the lover’s

eyes are replaced,  the hands

cut off return without even

the ecstatic pain of regrowth.

Sometimes I almost call you up and say that I like the way your name feels in my mouth. It tastes sharp and vibrant and like the first gulp of air after nearly drowning. I never do though and eventually this won’t matter.

The fairy tales that frightened

me most as a child

were never the ones about

wolves, about witches, they

were the ones about paradise.

They were the ones about people

who spend one night

there and return to the world

and find that one night is a thousand

years and everyone loved is

dust and your name,

no one remembers how

your  name tasted on my tongue the one time I was dreaming and I told you I loved you. I woke up and forgot that I hadn’t really done that.

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epic city disaster imagery

It happens most when I’m almost about to wake. The store front and the children playing skip-rope in puddles, and even the sky begin to slip through my fingers. I always find myself in cities I nearly remember. I always find myself in cities. They are places where I have lost things in dreams. I lost a shoe, a looking glass, a memory or two. There is one city that always makes me weep. It is my city but not my city. The main street I know so well no longer ends and the shops are always three stories below ground.

I know in my dreams I once fell in love but I’ve forgotten the shape of his face, the perfection of his jaw line, the exact color of his eyes, and so I know that I might never actually find him again. I used to believe that falling in love in dreams was more heartbreaking than when awake. How many people do we lose in dreams on average? Could they fill a city up?

Sometimes I wake up and I can’t remember where I am. The ceiling seems farther away than it should be. Everything is farther away than it should be. The walls are whiter. They remind me of a woman I once saw leaping off of a bridge and her dress was so white that the sunlight reflected made her look like a shooting star. I lift up my hands and the shadows I make seem wrong somehow. They move even when my hands are still. Maybe I move too much or maybe I could stay in on one place for one thousand years and I’d still wake up uncertain.

I like to shake away my dreams as soon as I can. They slip from my skin in the shower or when I’m brushing them out from my hair. While I’m sipping coffee, I’ll almost remember the way that a glass of raspberry lemonade tasted under some dream sun. It was sweet and it was cold and it made me think of waves.

Once someone told me, that in their dreams, cities were always being consumed by flames, lost under floods, stolen away from them by some catastrophe. They told me that they wanted nothing more than to dream the same city twice. To see it alive and pulsing just one more time. I thought of how it would feel to lose my cities. Would I lose them in flames that looked like emeralds bursting? Or would I lose them in quiet and silence and the way that you can forget about a childhood friend until you only feel that you used to someone but not who they used to be?

It happens most when I’m almost about to wake. The lemonade stand and the boy with the willow tree tattoo and even the ocean begin to slip through my fingers. I always find myself in cities I nearly remember. They are places where I have lost things in dreams. Sometimes I wonder if I’ll find these things when I finally wake up. It’ll be years later and in unexpected places. Mostly, I guess, I’ll just end up losing them again. Though, it’ll always be in different way. It’ll always be in some other city.

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Mostly I Still Love Everyone

What color is you hair
when it rains or
when it’s Monday?
I wonder, sometimes, how I’d like you
if you changed the color of your eyes,
but what about hair?
It seems less permanent, more
versatile, but
what if it changed with your mood
and anger dressed it up in blond
streaks or,
god forbid, grey?

And, if we’re on hair, and
we are at this point, should we move
on to skin? I dreamed once that you
covered yourself in ink
drawings and they
were all pictures of stars and
seeing you undressed felt
like being outside, in the
night, and always walking towards home.And
that feeling was lovely but
I woke up and your skin
was blank and
the scars even that I thought you had
came off when you showered.

But, I still thought, why not? Except
if you changed your eyes.
I don’t think I’d
love you, much less stand you, if
you blinked
just once and your eyes
were the color of
windows.

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If You Asked Me I Might Say

So slow to take away from this,
what we felt to give,
what we gave,
what we cannot accept
to give
and when he said my name
I turned because I wanted to
respond but that’s the
trouble with common names:
someone is always calling for
you some time.

And what I meant to say
to you was that I left the
house too early and forgot
my shoes and the keys and
even the letters I needed to mail out
to everyone.

And what was in the letters
were the words I wanted
so much to give and to
have to give and to know that
I could give.

And what I didn’t do
was turn around, retrace my steps,
find them again, and tell you
that I had the word finally and
you had to
accept because it was
a gift.

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