some ancient depths
i wanna see your face in the sunrise.
make mountain landscapes of our bodies:
hills to be discovered.
some kind of magic this is,
a drowning folk song kind of thing,
ethereal and dwelling somewhere in the deep.
the last two beings in the forest,
covered in sticks and moss, beings as old as time.
they lumber closer, the wind tucking hairs out of my face.
soft marshes, still and scattered with birdsong;
you hear it.
i'm not afraid of the water,
i'm watching it drip off our naked bodies.
i'm afraid that i'll surface
and you won't.
i'm afraid that the water will take you somewhere
that i can't go.
but the sun glistening on the surface is inviting,
intoxicating, even. simmering under my skin like dragonflies.
i want it all,
so i dive.
weekend light in heavy rain
something hiding in the rainclouds: light /
pockets inside out and i'm staring at ten fingers,
extended towards the ceiling
and somehow we ended up with our legs intertwined
(you've been on my mind)
and i'm thinking about the way you planted kisses on my nose
(how did i end up here?)
when we stood at the window and watched the rain
i didn't know
the world's expanding; i think
i'm afraid of the snap back to order
but i like when you touch our fingertips together
and i like your hand on the small of my back
and i can't see at all but it's right, i think
there's so much more i need to say
words get in the way, right?
so i'll put them some place you'll never see them:
or the back of my mind, coloring book pages with scribbling words
and fairy hearts and stick-on stars
all to remember the way you look at me sometimes
someone worth knowing
i'll breathe like i know what i'm doing
but my heart's pitter-patter like rain
i think it was something about standing in the aisles of books,
the way neither of us got tired of looking
and i wasn't afraid to take up space.
and then we told vampire stories under the night sky,
peeking in the windows of abandoned buildings and
making up stories about the inside -
growing gardens and ruling distant lands
part of it was when you stumbled over the horoscopes
and i'll never know what you read, tucked away on a shelf somewhere
part of it is when you texted me about worms
and i had to try not to laugh and
part of it is just brain juice, swirling around in my head, unthought
letting go of what i used to think
relearning new ways, wondering if it's better or worse or dangerous
how strange it is
to be someone worth knowing
the speed of reckless decisions
racing towards something or nothing,
images burned into our retinas, the amount of time we're looking at each other
i'll face the consequences later,
make the decisions for now.
it's different every time, you're not who i thought and i'm not
whatever i've been (good? bad?)
it feels like we're running, i can hear the ground against my feet.
you've played the same kid games as i have,
drilled a hole through a floor and i through a wall,
all these people in this new town and you know me the best, you know?
maybe this is all foolish but if it is i'm a fool.
i think we'll both trip over our own feet but i just can't bring myself to mind.
abra ca dabra
bands of color underneath
dark ceiling sky
- - - pling pling like doorbell,
chirping sound effects and rings of light
whole enough to step through
we're on the other side
in some other universe it doesn't go the same
whistling metallic and you tried
to find the power on an old pin ball machine
empty rows of relics,
blinking and beeping and singing at us
as we're walking past.
you like the abracadabra
i like the way that you talk
you like the stories i tell you
we say goodbye in the dark
friendly minds would leave it all behind
- - - train whistle, go
i dont feel like i feel enough and thats a feeling itself
it was magic enough
color like mixed paint
simple times. spread your wings, jump into the sky.
feel the air ripple. grasp at the sunrays, breathe in the clouds.
its four oclock almost, raining outside.
dog sits by the fireplace with its head on its paws, you spill tea on your favorite rug.
keys in the bowl, like a fishbowl, warps the face on the other side.
boots by the door, two sets, two pairs. coat, coat, hat. like its meant to be
simply a dream. lettuce growing in the flowerbed, weeds and worms too.
yellow paint on your fingers, busy drawing lines in the middle of the road.
directionless. salt in your mouth and stuck in between your teeth.
buzzing on your phone, not real. you forgot the mail, its raining somewhere.
wet dirt, stars on your shoes. glasses with no eyes behind. sky.
expanded to the other side, rotating and unconscious. lightning.
night swept all the dreams under the bed, blankets up to your chin.
fell through the air, head hit the clouds. dark and light all mixed up.
fingers on my lips. quiet, no clock on the nightstand.
flowers out the window, parallel. tied like balloons on string. just wishes.
spiraling, gnawing. bones being bones, sky forgetting.
mixing paint until its all water again. lanterns in the air, sparks of light.
Soon to be Embers
It's not easy to start a fire in the dead of winter. Takes Cam a full twenty minutes, June and I watching from the hammock we hung in the trees.
It's a dark night, but the moon shines vibrantly from behind a stray cloud. Once the fire is alive I go and stand next to Cam, picking at the sleeves of my sweater. He hands me a cup and we coax June over for a shot. She makes a face at the taste. I take another.
The ground is sloped down, a pile of leaves and a jut of land just a few yards away, then a drop into more forest. I find a morbid solace in the fact that I could roll right down and disappear into the trees if I wanted. Don't know what makes me think it, but I like the thought that I could get away.
Cam is squatting by the fire, nudging it around with a stick. June goes and sits on a tree stump, baggy jeans flaring out like two angry nostrils. She takes a hit of her vape, smoke combining with smoke.
The heat of the fire is intense on my cheeks, maybe that means I stand there too long watching Cam. He cut his hair and it makes him look like the boys I used to see in church, not like him at all. Close-cropped to the head like he's getting sent off to war.
We'll all be sent off again soon, June to Kentucky and Cam to New York. I'll be in Michigan. We can only hope college won't tear us all apart, that we'll do this again next time we're all home.
Staring into the flames, I can't help but reminisce on last summer, before we left. We threw a party at June's dad's house, she still regrets it. Filled the bathtub with jungle juice and broke the window in the kitchen trying to open it. Everybody was there, everybody important. We'd sat in the basement with all the lights off, lit a candle and told ghost stories without any ghosts. Cam burned his hand on the flame, a little too drunk, I'd taken him upstairs and kissed him accidentally.
Now Cam's in charge of the fire and I'm in charge of the drinking. June is using a stick to draw a cat with fangs in the frozen ground. I wonder if we know each other any more.
I go over to look out at the drop. Doesn't seem that far down. Stand between two trees, take hold of both trunks and lean all my weight forward so they're the only things keeping me in place. Wonder if they're old, if they'll snap, if I'll be sent flying. I stay like that for a few minutes. Nothing happens.
June calls me back, tells me I've got to be cold. I am, kind of. Not really. I breathe out and watch the cloud of condensation. Count the seconds I can see it like I counted the months.
I turn back. Cam's a silhouette, June is lit up by the fire, arms crossed. I wanna know if they've made new friends but I'm afraid to ask.
I make my way back, June is singing now, foot stamping out a beat. Cam turns to smile at me, share a look just like we used to. The fire is warm, soon to be embers but not quite yet.
you know i soak in the attention
(when i shouldn't) but do i know any
is interest so deceptive, or
is it just something we're taught
indulgence, i guess, is the word.
should. . he. . . . . . . text
i. . . . . . . want(s). . . this
refrain. . something. whenever
from. . . . no. . . . . . . selfishness
speaking. doubt. . . . appear(s)
silence / dancing / distance /
emotional connection weaved like spiderweb -
the same game over and over again and
i keep playing, somehow
A Handful of Dreams and Snow
The snow fell in through the back window as she slept.
She hadn't seen it, hadn't heard the wind rattle the frame and blow away the curtain she'd pinned down. The glass was missing -- had been for weeks. When she woke she stood and stared, mismatched pink and green socked toes wiggling at the edge of the small snow mound. It had melted across the floorboards a little, trickling in between the gaps in the cabin floor.
She scooped the snow up with her hands and deposited it outside the front door. Went back inside and stapled an old blanket over the window. Darkness fell across the room, and only then did she feel the cold.
She stirred the embers in the grate, added more wood and started a proper fire. She would run out of dry kindling soon. Unless she burned her drawings and notes, which a part of her longed to do regardless. The rest of her balked at the idea -- destroying all the work she'd done out here, having no record of the thoughts skipping across her mind?
She picked up a mug and made a drink, then sat next to Akra on the wooden bench by the fire. A sad routine, but a routine nonetheless. Akra had been delivered to her doorstep just weeks before the winter set in, a gift from an old friend. Akra was a ragdoll, a silly thing with golden yarn for hair and black beads for eyes. She'd thought it was strange at first, but had since grown to love the ragdoll. Akra was a constant companion, and its small mouth was perpetually on the verge of a smile.
She told Akra about the crows in her dreams, about the snowdrifts and the mammoths that she saw in her head at night. She told it about the moon dream again, the one where she'd dip her feet into an icy, circular lake, its surface reflecting the moon, only to find that she'd be stuck in place, the moon's surface cracking around her ankles, the world an endless vacuum.
Akra watched her calmly. It had heard of the moon dream before, because she dreamed it every night.
When she finished her stories she stood, braided her hair, breathed deeply, and gathered her boots and coat. Akra stayed behind, and she went outside.
The sun was striking, flashing its teeth through the shapes of the trees, drawing lines across the fresh snow. Everything shimmered like treasure. There was nowhere else she'd rather be.
She checked the traps first, plunging through the snow down the same trails as always. Even though she knew the landscape it looked different each time. There were more patterns in the snow, fresh icicles, a new sky squinting at her from above. Birds fluttered in the trees up ahead, branches groaned and cracked, the whole world breathed slowly, conserving its energy. Time did not exist in the winter, nor in the woods. She was ageless here, infinite, and at the same time so small, just another creature crawling on the earth's surface -- gone in the blink of an eye.
She returned to the cabin with a squirrel and a fox. Before she skinned them she closed her eyes and sent up her prayers, because they were just as infinite and just as small as she was. She imagined what it would be like to be them, to skitter through the snow, leap from rock to rock or branch to branch. In her mind she saw it all like they were one and the same, even though they were not. She told this to Akra. Akra did not respond.
She nicked her finger while cutting through the fox. Its blood ran together with hers. She found a cloth to tie around her finger, and told Akra about the time she had almost died two years ago. She'd been attacked in the forest by a wolf, bitten in the leg, only to find out later that it had merely been a dog run off its leash. It would have been a sorry way to die -- a Rottweiler -- compared to all the more magical dangers in the woods. She had lain in the snow, turning it rose-colored, for a hour until the dog's owner found her, semi-conscious and freezing.
He had held her up, coaxing her to his truck, exhaust pouring out of it, the sound of the engine and the blood loss turning her head inside out. When she'd woken up again he'd been sitting across the room, stirring two mugs of hot chocolate and watching her, his mouth on the verge of a smile.
He had asked her how she was, told her that he'd taken her to his cabin and bandaged her leg wound, apologized for the Rottweiler, which he had chained up outside. She had barely felt the pain, caught up watching the snow fall lightly outside the window behind his head. Caught up listening to the clinking of the spoon against the mugs as he stirred. They had talked for hours, and the world turned dark and light again. The Rottweiler was forgiven and let inside -- licked her face and wagged its tail.
She had not heard from him since that day. Often, she believed she must have dreamed it. Except for the scar -- fading, fading, until one day it might be gone completely. Had not heard from him, had not tried herself to contact him either. He had no name, just a man and a dog and hot chocolate.
And then, in late fall, the package had arrived on her doorstep. It was a ragdoll; she hadn't known what it meant. A slip of paper in unfamiliar handwriting: Hope your leg is healed. Sorry again. Goodbye x. No information on the package, no signature.
She had dusted off her rusted truck, driven into town. Asked around about a man and a dog and hot chocolate. He's left, they all told her. Headed north is all they knew.
A few weeks ago she saw a wolf. Or a dog or a deer, she couldn't be sure. The winter messed with the senses -- blurred the line between waking and dreaming. It had been standing right outside the back window just after sunset, staring at her. She'd been so surprised to see it that she'd thrown her cup at it, shattering the window's glass and scaring off the creature. She had poked her head outside, icy wind biting her cheeks, trying to see what it was as it ran, but she didn't know. Wondered if it was a Rottweiler or something else.
Since then the snow's been getting in through the back window, but she didn't mind it. Every morning she picked it up in her hands like it was a baby bird, threw it outside like it might fly, and then returned inside, made a cup of hot chocolate, and told Akra about her dreams.