Month: July 2014

Written a few days ago

I realize now that I haven’t been able to find a way to apologize to you because I should be thanking you.

Thank you for persistently encouraging me to be my best self, no matter what is going on in my own mind. Even when I stand in front of a full bowl, warm bed, or proof of an accomplishment and stare longingly at what’s in front of someone else. Thank you for cheering me through every hill I climb when I’m tired and being the voice in my ear during each pull-up when everything in me wants to drop down. Thank you for telling me that my words are beautiful, and encouraging me to pursue telling my own stories, to share them with others and to not settle for telling someone else’s story or using anything less than the full span of my personal gifts.

Thank you for teaching me that love is the ultimate value, and that love does not need to be explained. That sometimes the most important thing you can be doing is lying on the carpet with somebody. Thank you for homemade pizza crust and for being the most visible face in the pool bleachers. Thank you for all you’ve sacrificed to give me life and a family.

Thank you for the kindness in your eyes. It’s a tangible warmth and I can see it well up in there when our eyes meet. Thanks for letting that be the first and last thing I see each day for nineteen years. Thank you for never telling me that I’m better than everyone else, but for teaching me that I have inherent value. And thank you for always telling me out loud that you love me.

Whiteshoes

She’d be lying if she told you that she started from the bottom

Clean white sneaker soles speak louder than her ratty sweatshirt

Student ID shining in her wallet, paper weighing on her mind

Louie said it best:

We live cush lives and stress to make them perfect.

 

Here I present you with a girl

Whose challenge is to lie beneath the borealis

Beneath a roof, no roof

Here on a patch of grass

And clear her mind of all except the mixed colors of the view at hand.

 

We’re not sure if this is her coming-of-age story.

She’s long had her driver’s license but bikes to work.

She pays rent. Tiny place. New and clean.

She comes home from work and lies on the carpet with her eyes shut.

She thinks this might make her immature. She thinks it matters.

 

Tonight, she sits up from the carpet and looks at her bike.

She slips the key into her pocket, leaves her wallet on the counter.

Takes her bike in the apartment elevator.

The ride to the river is just downhill.

Feet dangling off the pedals, she rides down. Alone.

Takes smooth, slow pedal strokes to mid-bridge.

Sits down on the ledge. Alone.

 

She aches with the realization that the best she can do from her vantage point

Is to become a listener.

Clearest Vision

It’s a small yellow house, probably just one floor, with rust-red shingles and hedged by the fuzz of a slightly overgrown, lush dark green lawn. There’s stained glass in the window and a small quilt depicting an orange chicken hung over the oven, small stacks of books on every end table and thick rugs beneath my feet, between my toes. Some days, the house is by the lake, other days on the edge of the forest. Sometimes in between the two, a comfortable medium. Inside the house, the heat from the tea seeps through the clay mug between my hands, warming my fingers without scalding them. The dog is asleep on my feet.

I can be on the water without thinking about what’s to be done in the house, and I can read without wondering what’s to cook or what’s to be cleaned when I’m done. I open the door for people and let them in, and open it again to let them out. The clearest part of this vision, though, is that I don’t feel empty when the people leave, or nervous when they’re there. I feed the scraps of my scrambled eggs to my dog, alone in my small yellow house, and I don’t, for a second, need the validation of anyone else’s approval to lift my head and see the sun.

Skeletons

There are lots of skeletons in my closet, but they’re tiny, mouse-sized, scattered across the hardwood. I notice them, lift and examine each, then try vainly to bury them, rearrange them in order of time, importance, supposed “topical relevance” to my day.

 

I go to the kitchen, spread honey on a slice of bread, and eat anxiously, standing barefoot at the counter, and ponder how to avoid my skeletons—I go to the grocery store, shut my laptop, flip my phone face-down, go back to my closet, open it, shut it, open it again, ignore the knock on the front door (can’t say who, nervous to find out), feel my heart rate rise, feel a sagging weight behind my eyes, a heaviness in my shoulders, lean against the door, sit down in a slump, and eventually degrade into a restless sleep.

 

It is my mother who shakes me awake. I feel achey, as if I hadn’t slept. She helps me stand, but I make her pull all my weight. The closet door opens a crack. My sick heart revs, a tiny car on a steep hill. I fear the white bones, the skeletons on my closet floor, but as I look through my hollowed-out, sleepless eyes, I see they’re tiny. Mouse-sized skeletons scattered across the hardwood.

Pledge

I pledge allegiance to blue and white, not red.
Reflected in the axis of the horizon, the sky mirrors the deep waters, waves tipped with thin dark ridges and air brushed with wispy clouds.

I feel most whole with a roof over my head that isn’t static but rustles and waves and lets warm, clear light shine down between a hundred thousand green maple leaves brushing gently against birch and pine.

I stand with the family united by bare feet, fleeces and running shorts, holding plastic glasses of tap water, the others who can breathe the deepest and laugh the loudest when the air is clean and lake-sweet and the breeze is cold,

The others who plod straight into the kitchen with sand and dirt between their toes, those who have called in sick to spend time at the lake but have been put in their place at the hands of nature, forced to hide inside by winter winds, the owners by necessity of four-wheel drive and fat-tire bikes,

Those who may work in an office or store but live in a patchwork quilt of forests and anti-suburbia, the home of hot wild rice and tiny breweries, where the cheers are as loud for bluegrass music as for rap, where the whole town floods as one to the shores when the water freezes over or the air gets ‘way too hot’ at eighty-two.

Where I lay my head to rest in bed and the smell of bonfire and mellow night drifts in my window.

Where I lay my head to rest, shut my eyes, and feel the peace of home.