I would recognize your hands
anywhere. The way your right pinky
turns slightly out, a vine
The way your knuckles speak
of late nights and early mornings
makes them the most dangerous part of you,
as exposed as they are.
I want to place my thumb softly on each one,
finger-speak for you have found a place
to rest. So rest.
I crave a meal or an argument,
anything complex and wild -
something worth staying up too late with the night
winding down around us.
Let’s tiptoe into the back garden
to snap kale and basil by moonlight.
You gather those sweet yellow tomatoes
in your hands and not one will be bruised
when we return to the kitchen.
Let’s squeeze a lemon over drizzled oil
Have I told you that turning the salt
grinder sometimes feels like
just a hurdle between me and a beautiful cream sauce
but is actually the foundation
upon which this world was built?
The way the wrist turns roughly, the glass solid
in my hand. The way I know that our eyes will meet
over this meal, agreeing without words
that what we have assembled is beautiful,
and will not last nearly long enough.
Then I will spill like salt upon the table.
It was early morning and we had the legs of newborn calves. Our eyes brimmed with mountains nestled under sky, our breath was winter white. We ran.
I hardly knew her but she already knew me. She knew that I needed to stand on a salted surf board in the Costa Rica sun. That I longed for someone else’s pillows, dolphins gliding beside a tiny boat, drunken dancing in a second story bar with the breeze sliding in over rough wooden rails. I needed to rip my notebook paper to shreds. I needed pebbles so hot that we ran across the sand, laughter rising into the air to meet the cranes.
The spring after we returned, she knew that I needed enormous jars of honey just scraped from the beebox and fresh eggs that needed a good wash. How did she know that the thing I most needed in the world was a small bucket of kale, hardly beginning to sprout? It’s out there now in my garden,and is so much like her - wise and lush, sleek and dark, quiet and strong.
What you mean by shelter
will not make sense to me until
I have written these secret appetites
across my open palms.
Until then, these cardboard boxes will have to do.
I will tape the corners together and hope they hold
against the wind and rain, against
the sound of my heart breaking
My voice is brown bear breath.
Oh, it is moonlight campfire hush
and I like it that way.
My heartbeat careens through the crosswalks
of my dreams, just one more ambulance
wailing into these sawdust hours.
We can make it one more night, can’t we?
April was a blur of terror pasted over
with false courage and hollow laughter.
The high-pitched nervous giggle
of dentist chairs, executioner hoods,
and divorce proceedings rises into the dangerous air.
We are unhinged.
Midway through the month, a cold snap
crushes every bud and bloom
that had dared to rise in my garden
holding up hope like a hand-painted picket sign.
Smoke tree, sage, grapevine, kale, quince, bee balm,
lavender, iris, lily. People. The people died.
I stand in the morning air, my tears slipping
into the collar of a February jacket.
I can’t tell you why I am crying.
Is it the garden? Loneliness?
Perhaps it’s the fleets of refrigerated trucks
idling in parking lots and gravel shoulders of roads
all over this country waiting to carry away the dead.
People are dying and the only thing I could think to do
was to water these plants, bless a crumbling leaf
by holding it lightly in the palm of my hand,
the breeze rocking it ever so slightly,
then speak to myself with false confidence -
things may look bleak but sunshine will greet us soon.
The house sparrow will balance on a branch,
drawing my eye to the smallest green slash,
folded tight and gathering strength.
It is preparing to enter this world with the same unbridled hope
that we all hold in our hearts
that we will get the chance to briefly exist and turn our faces up to the sun.
Running along steep mountain trails, each footfall is a battle cry, a prayer, and an apology. My shoes kick up desert dirt behind me, embossing my calling card into the tracks of those who have come before me. I am here, I am here, I am here. Surprising, the way things chose to reveal themselves. The snap of a branch startles, echoing into the empty canyon. Dappled sunlight leaks through a labyrinth of leaves. Rocks rise and melt like glaciers. Roots reach, like me, for anything they can find. I understand that and nod in respect, keeping a close eye on the ground. The blinding blue of the sky. Egg yolk trees coming into sharp relief as I round a bend. The trill of birds rising, falling, surging into a glorious crescendo three thousand times a day, whether there is an audience or not. The sun grits its teeth all day long, a bruiser, a brawler, holding a hard fist in the air until sunset. When orange and purple slur themselves across the sky, that same sun makes no excuse, just sinks suddenly into desert black. Every step I take is a revelation, a hair’s breadth closer to joy.