I made a word cloud of the writings from my blog… the biggest words are the most commonly used. you can make your own on wordle to give yourself this kind of visual of what words come up most often in your writing.
This is how I begin
with a hawk and a branch and the snow
everything silent but
my body settling
into itself, a book
turning closed, all air gone.
My lungs hang in my center
two summer peaches swollen
in the sun, roped to my heart
aching apple at the center of me.
I remember your ear
on my chest, saying there’s no
distinct beginning– this is how I begin
in the middle with your lips paused
around a word you’re still searching for.
Your eyes are so wide the night sky fits inside. I want to keep this moment here, a map folded in my breast pocket. You ask where we’re going, and I reach for it but come back with a fist full of Atlantic sand, the salt of dried tears leaving pale footprints on my wrist. You accept it with open palms; I fill them with sand and a dead starfish curled under from the sun. You hold her to your ear and cry and all I can say is I’m sorry without knowing why or if I’m telling you the truth–
This sorry sticks in my throat sweet and thick as honey, bees rising in my chest, thousands of legs and wings drumming against my rib cage. I open my mouth, tell them–Go! but they’ve been here so long they’ve forgotten the sky. I feel the humming slow, wings settling, resting and complacent. I want to scream at them–tell them they’re stupid–Can’t you see you’re trapped!
You appear in front of me with your arms wide and open, tell me I can fit anywhere, but I’m backing up before I can whisper your name, the whole ocean behind me crashing and hungry. This is how it began, the only life I can remember, my father’s breath on my shoulder, a song with no words unfolding itself onto my skin. I open my eyes again and am alone, nothing but snow piled around me, the ocean frozen and still, one wave frosted with foam still nesting at my ankles, a white crab quiet like a ghost or a shadow perching at my side, watching the sky as it fills with birds, black silhouettes against pale space, circling and silent.
I breathe it all in, try to feel full and still and cold, but there’s no more room. The fruits in my chest are rotting, the bees hollow corpses falling to my stomach, your name unspoken and thick in my gut. I want to reach for the chasms where your feet were a moment ago, but my arms are too heavy. I close my eyes and wait.
I remember your ear
on my chest
Last week we drove to the top of a mountain and ate open-faced sandwiches while looking at six towns at once. I forget so much can fit in my sight at once. Maybe that’s why I love flying–people swarming below so small I could reach down and grab fifty or sixty in one hand. I think what I love most about flying is the descent–no matter how slow it is, it’s still falling, leaves me hurtling and breathless, this body a shooting star burning through the night sky–will I reach you before I’m just ash?
In the morning, the shower whispers at me through the wall, urging me from my dream of a room full of mice, so many I could never find the one I love. Maybe this is why I’m terrified of flying–I pick up fifty or sixty of you in one handful and find no one who knows my name. What I fear most, though, is the falling–no matter how slow, the ground always hits hard, a moment of waking and realizing I may not make it today, remembering I have no choice, must rise into the air again, each breath lifting me from my feet.
At night, dusk comes suddenly and I can’t remember a time when there were so few stars, fall asleep and dream of falling between them–the light of the fire keeps waking me. I open my eyes and there is a mountain beneath me, six towns beneath that, and morning air aching to be taken in, begging me to breathe. I walk down the path with palms open and facing you, as if I could catch the first question you ask, as if these hands have held anything I’ve wanted this badly. When night comes again my chest in an attic staircase overflowing with frantic bats. I feel their wings beating the windows at the edges of me, wish I could remember how to open, how to let out the things that fly. I want to trust them to come back. Even now, I feel empty and heavy, a silent old house creaking under all of these years. Your voice urges at the edges of me–your fingers brushing the tips of mine. My eyes start to open, and you tell me anything I want to see will fit.
Every second is a hurricane of static, my skin layered with humming air, so much space between my stomach and my bones, my bones and my muscle. Every day I am bigger and more quiet. Every day my body is overflowing with silence, a song like the blue early morning hours, a world so still it must be dreaming, the sky bigger than eyes can catch, one hawk circling the edges, a pupil constantly passing. If she could see me, I would be a mouse, small soft head unfolded from the grass, tiny heart in the tiny center, so fast it flutters, moth trapped in my chest, frantic, searching.
My ribcage is an atrium full of night sky, air cold and dark, choking on wings and dusted with stars that catch in my throat and make each question ache. This is the whole of me, just this, just one night in a pale shell, ocean water trapped in a dead clam, her jaw still rigid, stubborn even without life. But I didn’t die–I yell this, I think, but there’s no echo, no response from the darkness, no reminder that this is truth. My breath leaves salt drying on your cheeks–the Atlantic tastes like tears for a reason, salt bitter and remembering, Lot’s wife crumbling under the burden of her womanhood–punished for witnessing, but we still see everything, fractured salt pillar at the center of each of us, holding up everything–so much depends upon this body.
I open my arms and am the whole sky and the whole ocean, air and surf meeting at my core, an uprising in my stomach–is this birds swarming or tides breaking? I open my mouth, not for the words but for the taste and the thirst it brings, the wanting for a way to name this.
Tomorrow is sitting on the edge of my sternum
bluebird on a bone branch, perched and waiting–
and I ask–do you still sing? I hear nothing
but my breath, crystal avalanche tearing up
from my lungs white and frozen and screaming.
I would call this a song if it had a name.
I would call this your name if I could remember it.
Sometimes when it’s almost tomorrow
I think I’m a girl again, or still, or becoming
young the way bud becomes flower, opening
full and round, suddenly something out of air.
There are mice running back and forth through my stomach–
many tiny footsteps until they are one tumbling feeling
in the center of me, dizzy wind beneath my heart, its branches
caught in the storm. If you could fit in the atrium
of my heart, I would keep you there and feel your voice
saying my name out from my core. I would call it
my heartbeat while you search the shadows for an exit,
find only dusty blue feathers stiff
in the corners and a trail of footprints
so small you’re not sure if you can trust your eyes
–how can something this tiny be a whole thing
who wanders through this room in my center
leaving footprints whole and trailing, as real as mine.
I try to make this a song, want it to get stuck with you
like the warmest night last september, air so hot
it oozed into my lungs, and the indent of your cheek
waited on my pillow, the kind of heat and wanting
that becomes part of you, seeps to the bone,
to tendons and your aorta, sternum, stomach–
I would give this words if I could reach them.
my eyes are lanterns that burnt
out last september when the night
air ran its cold fingers along my bangs
and howled through the dark like a train’s
ghost. I see shadows and don’t know
what to call real.
my spine crouches
in the center of me and asks
why it should care–this isn’t my roof I’m holding.
I don’t trust my bones
not to wander, count them every evening
unfurled on my bed, all parts together, still
If I had words they would be blue and feathered, cling to my throat like a bead of ice on the window pane last February when you asked me if I’d ever been this cold before. I said no but I was lying–didn’t mention my naked skin frosty in the snow, my body one heavy bone. There is nothing hollow in me–every crevice is full of you, no room left for the small jenny’s who flit about my head begging for space. If I had time to speak, I would tell them how busy I am, how I wake up exhausted with bloody hands from trying to rearrange the parts inside me–it doesn’t feel right yet. Reach into my chest and pull out a July peach, still hot, dripping to your wrist. Was this always here? Is it even mine? I stare and you take a bite, the flesh rotting in front of you, deep green falling back to the earth, stinking heap sticks to your fingers and your throat. You can’t speak either. I’m glad because my ears are tired today, begging for a few hours off. But even the silence is too heavy to carry, even one note from a bluebird will pierce through the whole of me. Having no answers, I swallow everything and hold it in me–I think I might explode but more and more has to fit every second. I need more hands to carry fistfuls of penny nails, the roots of the blueberry bush, the smell of sawdust, a ceramic sugar bowl with a pear-shaped handle. Shove it all down inside me until my throat overflows. I’ll lay down in the snow, think ‘heavy,’ think ‘cold,’ until I disappear into it, everything gone.