- The Blanket May 10, 2016
I was five years old
when in a sunlit room
as my mother folded laundry into tight, neat piles
she said that I should want to love God more than I love her.
The feeling upon these words from her
was that of a balloon you squeeze too hard
that bursts against your face.
You aren’t injured, but the force of the explosion
wounds you all the same.
Directly after her words
I crawled up on the couch
and covered my head with my blanket.
I’ve yet to understand her.
I’ve yet to pull the blanket off.
- When Dad is Away March 20, 2016
When you are away
at first the house and all its decisions
tip to my side of the bed.
And I like it.
I pick the wine with the pretty label.
The kids and I sing off-key to Mary Poppins on repeat.
I eat kale chips, popcorn and chocolate
and call it dinner.
But by day three of your absence
we are getting edgy.
I’m talking to myself in the mirror.
The kids are listless.
We are lonely cats,
rubbing our faces into furniture,
wishing for that strong hand to scoop us up.
On day four I wake in the night
and am startled by an unfamiliar bulk
on your side of the bed.
Then I remember the laundry I had piled there.
I lay back down again.
It’s no good anymore,
this me without you.
I am ruined by our ten year union.
I am rowing this skiff with one oar
from my side of the bed.
The inevitable result of which
lays hold of my ego,
so that I say audibly to your empty pillow in the dark,
“I need you to come home.”
- Untitled January 22, 2016
when I’m plodding around the kitchen at night,
cleaning up everyone’s day,
feeling sorry for myself,
I feel the sweet sadness of the little girl
I used to be.
From long, long ago.
But now, I shift her weight to the other side.
And she stops crying.
I feel old
- I Count the Years Like Coins September 26, 2015
If I could be just seven years younger…
just seven more disposable years
would be perfect.
She’s eight years younger
and let’s me know from time to time
things around my house or
things I wear
that she likes,
in a you’re really getting on in years kind of way.
She tells me so I know I still matter.
I feint surprise when she does.
Oh wow thanks.
Inside, way down deep inside
I could the years.
I sit like a fat, sweating old man
with my hair and money
in a grotto down deep in the ocean.
No one can hear me counting here.
She can’t, I like to think.
Down here I count how many
years I have left.
Plink, plink, plink.
I stack my years like coins.
Eight more would be perfect.
No nine, I think again
in the dark.
- Age of Superman August 4, 2015
They say you don’t remember much
before age four.
I’ve been watching my boy, age three.
He’ll tear through a day like cheap wrapping paper
and leave you to clean it up.
He can weave through a crowd of legs
right to the front–
grab the last cookie off the plate and laugh.
He’ll look you square in the eye and laugh.
(He who won’t remember this day.)
But so what if he won’t remember age three.
Forgetting is only tragic on our side of four.
Where we do not grow in the night,
Where we write everything down,
so as not to forget.
He writes down nothing.
His small hands and mouth lay open when he sleeps.
Until he crosses over the chasm to our side,
he is invincible.
Why would we want him to remember before age four.
It would be too painful to recall your former glory,
your true age
- Renewing A Book at the Library February 19, 2015
Once I had my husband do it
when the kids were sick,
and he was stir crazy.
“Here, go renew my library book
then have a beer at the bar.
But don’t come home in the same mood
or without my book.”
Then once I did it.
Both kids melting,
hanging on my shirt,
drawing down the collar
into the shape of a pitiful, gaping mouth.
The what’s-become-of-me mother look.
But I got my book again,
so forget fashion.
And then this Monday I dared
renew it a 3rd time.
I was alone
(which almost never happens anymore
when once upon a time I loved to go everywhere alone
out for lunch,
to the movies,
to the library.
But then that isn’t actually true.
I always had a book with me.)
- Smarten Up, Girl February 3, 2015
When I was a college freshman
in love with Romantic poets
and Victorian outlaws
I put my eye to a telescope one night in Astronomy 101.
The professor, a patient, faith-filled man
had positioned it to see
the full surface of the moon.
I giggled with a friend about a winsome guy in class
whose name I didn’t know.
And then it was my turn to see through the lens.
In less than a second my eye traveled from earth to moon
and I saw for the first time in my life.
And seeing made me ask.
And asking has led me, some 15 years later,
to this point.
Where, sometimes I wake in the night
from a glow through the curtains.
I get up to check,
but it isn’t the neighbors’ porch light,
it’s the moon.
That face I met in college.
That drawn up grin
more charming than Byron.
More sobering than Wilde’s letters from prison.
I see his charging face again
and it smartens up this silly girl.
Nothing you do will last.
Live for the kingdom of heaven.
- Immigrant Tide November 26, 2014
Mexican boys: smallish frames, sooty and soccer-footed.
Mama y Papa thrust you out into the states,
casting the sign of the cross over you like a soft shadow;
you bob in and out my classroom door.
Luis is smarter than his English,
constructing irony in simple sentences.
Ruben is doubtful already.
Book jackets fail to incite; translations do not fill the gut.
Is it simply adults? Forever getting things botched,
no matter the language?
And Jarim, we’ve decided as a class,
has the skin-tone of Jesus.
Darker than the others,
illuminated from the inside by that something.
Perhaps his mother saw the merciful vision…
Our Lady of Guadalupe?
That day she packed her family,
cheeks flushed with epiphany,
immigrant child in her womb,
as she tore for Texas.
Tidal, she makes the sign of the Cross
over all of you.
Morning and night.
Vaya Con Dios.
- To My Young Anorexic Friend November 26, 2014
When I look at your legs-
The bruises the hollows the blueblack and white
The nearness of bone to skin…
They look to me like the frail hindquarters
Of an adolescent doe
My youngest cousin
Shot in a spastic rush
For the praises of uncles.
A boy’s first kill.
Now it is the season of thanks giving
And grandmother resurrects that frozen kill
From the meat freezer
Lays it to thaw on the countertop:
The lean hindquarters
Of a doe
Too young to die.
- Transcend November 26, 2014
If I could transcend–
be anything lovely–
I’d be so many trees and flowers
and certain unsuspecting lips
But, tonight I’d be this
one white mitten
It is small as a barn kitten
and almost purring
on my reckless, grasping hand
In this mitten
my hand looks more like a heart
In this mitten
my heart it soft and pure
In this mitten
pure winter yield itself
a lover’s whispered, yes.