argument

I wouldn’t mind sand and salt

in my hair, which I imagine long and unkempt

loose about my shoulders, sticking

bare skin cool in pools of gathering water about my limbs

the sunlight gleams on my ocean, always setting, always rising

your voice elevates in pitch and I turn

the foamy white waves turning with me,

hair billowing, suspended in watery space,

the anger I was trying to let go of

returns in full force. I don’t want to hate,

so I will focus it, damn this table between us.

and the switch clicks off again, I am

somewhere drowning and you are still talking rivers of words at me

springing

this sun

has to be a joke, it is

so drizzly wet outside and we are dashing

from buildings, breathing deeply

but trying not to ruin our hair

(let me say that the deepest joy

is from looking down and remembering that I am rooted in

boots I’ve had since I was eleven.)

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.