justwrite justafter midnite

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.

short lil justwrite

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
feeling empty.

coincidentally father’s day justwrite


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.

interrupted justwrite

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.

justwrite with teal at hot table

[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.