fair son (fort portal, summer 2013)

upon leaving, the last a terrible tirade

I wandered home, a great explorer from Europe

skin glowing without light, hair dark from too many shadows.

We slept on tinder, a great tree-built tradition

high in the elephant-grass hills.

the walk down to the lake beneath us was long,

and I burned my soles, arriving dusty to the enveloping tree shade

where I fell, over the rocks and into the murky greeny-brown

ka-splash silence

everything suspended for a moment

and break the surface to air again

still aching from a year of misunderstanding, my form

my frame, my body

just really wanted to win something, do it right for once

so I began kicking, arms pulling,

working every muscle till it burned

I slowly swam, the far shore my focus

rocky, looming, dramatic grey cliffs

it seemed hours, but I used the last bit of my strength

to heave myself out of the unknowable darkness

tearing skin from my arms and legs, I collapsed

heaving air into my diaphragm as I lay beneath swaying palm trees

bleeding onto the rocks, water and sweat diluting each drop

running from me in rivulets, soaking the fallen reeds

(I conquered fear of the unknown)

and I couldn’t see the far shore.

i like who we are right now

here, time melts, unfrozen

and runs down to bathe us in wild sweat and tears

work, we are finally moving

getting things done worth doing, breathing

in the heartbeat of a second’s time won

over our own loves,

I can just be a person and not think why.

difficult to explain – let’s just say that I am finally sleeping deep

 in home’s arms.

no one is complaining about homework or food

because a fifteen year old girl died yesterday

and we are fighting for the moment,

winning some small part of glory for now

before we follow her.

breaking

My hair is brown, my eyes are brown, and my skin stays papery-pale, thin enough for word pencils to break right through every time I get an idea of who you think I am.

I love you more than my own blood sometimes, I am willing to let it flow out over this scrap paper, sticking with dirt and thorns, clotting over my thin wispy hair, weak.

Because of you I got horribly lost, lost in the stereotype of the dumb white girl who could get lied to over and over again and give and give herself away before realizing that she was stuck and trapped and loved you way too much to let go of what we had.

Friendship? What does that even mean? Is it clinging to the IV of your baby while we fly over the dusty roads in the back of the car, praying, splattered in someone else’s blood,  holding puddles of vomit in my lap while your wrinkled skin grows weaker and paler, carrying your family’s food for kilometers with your hand in mine? Is it sitting together on the dark damp floor of a hut, passing around the pitcher until our vision gets blurred, words slurred, the sun dropping into our gaping mouths over ages of confusion?

Because that’s what we had.

And what is now? What is this, what I’m doing? Scribbling down endless facts, shoving words into my ears and mouth until they bleed, overflowing with things that I think I might understand. If you could see me you would laugh and peel off all these layers I’m trying to keep myself warm with, slinging your arm around my shoulders, holding my hand and never once worrying about it being awkward. You would help me re-start the fire in the burn pit in the backyard, tossing in all the assignments and ideas and stress and orders and arguments, saying, “It is nothing.”

Whatever the outcome, we’ll have a little bit of time to clean me up before I crash back out again. I hope this time you’ll remember me and we’ll be able to scribble a little something short-hand in another one of our whirlwind, photo-snap relationships, where I don’t worry about being awkward or uncomfortable and just lean on your ribs and sleep.

I am on my way home to sunlight, to burn away these snowflakes caught in my brain and heart, freezing muscle, tensing and curling up in fear – those will fall away in the equatorial sun in water from my skin, perspiring toxin from my blood. I will sing my heart out into the wind, filling my lungs and exhaling all the cold into the breezes. I will stand and dance, fill my arms with family and friends, tangling fingers without worry, pour love into ears and eyes until they overflow in tongues. I will raise my arms to heaven and cry out in thanks for all of you.

And we will laugh at everything.

Carl Sandburg – Mask

FLING your red scarf faster and faster, dancer.
It is summer and the sun loves a million green leaves,
masses of green.
Your red scarf flashes across them calling and a-calling.
The silk and flare of it is a great soprano leading a
chorus
Carried along in a rouse of voices reaching for the heart
of the world.
Your toes are singing to meet the song of your arms:

Let the red scarf go swifter.
Summer and the sun command you.