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I placed my hands on either side
of my hips, lifted
them to see the width, and said
to myself, “you are huge.”
I’m as wide as the biggest snapping turtle in the hampshire reservoir, stretching her neck out from under the bridge. The first time I saw her, I called her a rock, kept this name until she moved and I thought–a rock could not be this light.
Harry ran into the woods on four happy feet, and I wanted to call after him, told Zoe instead–Look! Look at this quiet surprise, rock swimming and breathing, wide as my body, one small soul in the water.
Julie says if I allow myself to feel happiness I don’t have to let go of the part of me that grieves–I could fill the reservoir with seven years of tears, choke the trout and my turtle with the Atlantic salt that pours out through my eyes. If the snapping turtle swam past my lips I would whisper to her that I can’t remember how to laugh
but that would be a lie–I laughed yesterday, didn’t I?
Harry darts from the trail, chasing a chipmunk real or imagined. The brush on the forest floor turns up at the plow of his nose. He never slows down until the forest breaks into field and we are all struck by the sky. Zoe and I stand with arms wide, a meadow the size of that afternoon, starlings spearing up from the grass just in front of us, like shadows of our thoughts racing. All of this vastness can fit in my eyes and my lungs.
I breathe in the whole of it.
[The format for this post disappeared when I edited it, and I don’t have the energy to reformat it. Just pretend it’s not a block.]
Don’t talk about Jesus without speaking birds, hollow bone flutes sprouting feathers that stick to my wet tongue and I ask you is my body a window fogging under your february breath? is my body a fog trapped between mountains like hands that rise up in fists from the mist? Don’t talk about Jesus when you remember the mountains–don’t remember his climbing or the way the wind rose around him, angry and wailing, full of blackbirds and their moaning voices, the sky choking on wings. When I hear birds in the morning I think of Liz, the book on her lap, air thick and chemical, her face disappearing and the fog that came after– all throughout it, birds and their terror songs. This body is cracking under your words, a window pane thickening at the bottom, thin as lace beneath my eyes, cracks spiderwebbing under your fingertips. You ask if this is a ghost, a holy ghost who walks back and forth outside our door with chains around his neck, a silver crucifix in a stranger’s sweaty palm and the look on his face when I turn away with hands closed and empty. That night I dream of my father, his grey lips moving around lost words, try to remember if he believes in heaven, but I’m so tired I can’t lift my arms and before I have any answers he’s gone. The only thing left in the yard is a small black pile–I move closer and can see the nested bodies of two blackbirds, breathless and white-eyed, and I search for blood or a broken hollow bone, find nothing but a prayer I forgot how to say; I just keep choking on amens until the world around me greys– without mountains there is just open sky I want to fill. Without mountains, just sky. I wake up and there’s a crater on the pillow where your cheek used to be, the heat of your breath still woven with the white threads. The tea kettle moans morning dirges in the kitchen and eases my feet to the floor. I spend all day searching for you– when I pull aside the shower curtain, a wind blows out from my chest and cracks the mirror above the sink. My reflection is a puzzle almost finished. I hear the ghost of your voice behind me but there’s only the front door and a man I think I knew once. He reaches to me, hands heavy with ink-black feathers. I open my mouth but don’t know what to say.
there are no words lately
I said goodbye to my bluebird last night, felt the thin crest of her skull beneath feathers on my lips, her warmth lingering like your breath fogging the pane of my shoulder in February, life turning milky against the cold air. I emptied my pockets on the splintered wooden counter, the sleeves of my sweater catching on sharp wood bits like broken fingernails, thin strands of white falling behind me when I leave, spider’s webs that forgot how to stick.
Yesterday at work there was a song caught in my throat all day. I want to call it mine but I think it’s been yours this whole time. I’d give it back if I could persuade it to move, tried coating my windpipe with honey and lavender, whispered “spring” over and over and opened my mouth to swallow the sun–
I want to say this life is still happening. I want to speak warm and open my hands to give you green gage plums. You ask me why I call them green while their orange cheeks roll against my palms, one split from the heat, two beads of juice like sweat falling to my wrist. My wrist is a window in an April rain, the outside mosaic-ed, everything within darkened but otherwise unchanged besides the sound which is not a sound and I have to crouch on the floor and point my ears toward each wall trying to find an origin or at least a name for this. When the rain clears the sky is choking on bluebirds, wings and throats opened, one feather gliding alone toward my feet. A warm breath lingers on my lips and the song in my throat pauses. I wonder if I should say goodbye.
the best guess anyone has to how fingerprints are made is the underlayer of skin colliding with itself like tectonic plates in the earth pressing each other up into mountains–a planet at the tip of each finger, hands reaching
open toward sky.
if i wrote for long enough
would all of me be gone–these words
are finite ghosts
passing onto the page but
more dies each moment
last night’s blue fading
a dream at day-
break, this morning’s breath
i miss each moment and
could never mourn it–
days gone– was i sleeping?
have i ever been awake?
have i ever been
the darkness dissolves
the skin around my eyes, leaves wrinkles and
windows, my face
a glass pane, cracking
under your fist
but my hands are whole
heavy dry clay
dead puppets, strings cut, limbs
dead fish at the ends
of dying branches–
yet more ghosts–
writing smeared, pencil blended, writing this, my glasses near my feet, trusting my fingers to make these letters, moving on before I can ever be sure. can you read this? can you read this? are you still here? were you ever?