Sunday, January 30, 2011
And I was only six and irons were heavy then but I could do it. Fold in half. Press. In half again. Press. Folding it finally into thirds was harder. But I was six and I could do it. Square to rectangle to rectangle and back to square. It became a kind of game as mother and I would sing "In the Sweet By and By" and "I'll Fly Away" while her lean arms and back washed the dishes and Happy Days blared from the living room with the blue shag carpet.
And father would preach up a storm in his brown suit in the red sanctuary and when his black hair began to fall across his brow he would pull out the crisp white squares that my arm still ached over, and he would yellow them with condemnation and sweat, and sinners would kneel at padded altars and walk away clean.
And he would carry the soiled squares home in his pocket, and mother would wash them white as snow, and the next Saturday again the screeching and the dropping of the pin and the heaviness and the singing and the television blaring and I feared him. And I pressed squares into rectangles into rectangles and back into squares again and again and again because I didn't want to go to his hell.
Wednesday, January 19, 2011
these scars are yours
this silver-streaked belly I
you did this
stretched the sinews
of these hip bones
while they held you
the ribs, the cartilage between
these lungs, and I
I reached my arms overhead
the ribcage out
of the hips
so you could sleep
and in sleeping
bones as you emerged
from this body blood-beautiful with my blood
on me, inhaling
breath that was mine
and still you
from heavy breasts made heavy
lifetimes later I
your cheek that has become mine
your hair with lungs you gave back
This poem also part of this week's One-Shot Wednesday at One Stop Poetry
Tuesday, January 4, 2011
He stepped out of the crowd like a petal from a wet, black bough. He looked like James Dean and had to speak loudly for me to hear his French words I could not understand. I searched his blue eyes for a translation. He tried again in German. I bit my bottom lip.
"Do you speak English?" Finally, I smiled. "Yes."
He took both my hands in his and said these words I'll never forget: "You're the most beautiful girl I've ever seen, and I want to have dinner with you tonight."
I was with a group of 60 about to board a boat for a dinner cruise through Paris. His hands were warm. His leather jacket groaned as he pulled me in, gently, just an inch . . .
"Who are you?"
I still struggle to remember his name. It could have been Michael. Or Damon. It might have been Matthew. He said he was from Texas. His father had sent him to Europe for a year to "be."
A voice yelled something in French and my line started to move.
"I'm with a group. I can't . . . "
"Please." His long fingers closed more tightly. "Just dinner. I think I'm in love with you."
The sun was setting, my group was boarding. I had no choice but to kiss him.
The strength of his jaw under my hand, his soft lips, the way my fingers slipped through his as I walked sideways up the ramp. I didn't take my eyes off him until the first bend in the river erased him. He never moved.
I ate nothing. Heard nothing. I remember only a bridge that looked like his lips, and the lights of the tower.
My only regret in 39 years is my fingers slipping through his.