The underside of night
and I am throwing away boxes
that held pieces of my old life
and there you are,
as I’m tiptoeing back from the dumpster
careful to hop over the puddles that gather
to the terra cotta steps that lead me to new.
You are straddling the rooftops
bringing to me a punchy light
watching me as I stare up into your vulnerability.
Now you are the action hero
sandwiched between two buildings
risking your life to save the victim
Now you are the kitchen maiden
holding up her skirts as she walks to the privy
squatting over dignity
Now you are the normal
the everyday warrior
toppled from your pedestal stamp on the sky
shoehorned into the sliver I can see.
Now you are again my Orion
a constant backdrop to my altars
a wink to the fathers of my youth
peeking in to check on me
and watching as I stare into my vulnerability.
Haven’t seen you in ten years
Your hair has changed, your face is fatter
But your eyes are still curled at the edges.
Your teeth are crooked,
Your stomach wider
Your thighs growing ever in the wrong direction.
But look at the way wise shines in your skin
The pallor of experience changing hands with pale and tan.
The bracelets on your wrist don’t fit anymore,
The charms too bulky and cross.
The eye that watches is blinded now
You can walk off the edge of unknown.
Now you balance on your toes
Once more the ballerina
Once more the clown for the pose
Your ankles criss-crossed with purple warnings.
Your chalk lines on the carpet smudge your elbows
As you rise
And sink the sweltering pile of panic
Suck on the words of indecision
Swallow the pride and chew on the choices
Blowing bubbles of brightly colored goals
Taking polaroids of your face for posterity
There is no more learning if these moments aren’t captured
There are clouded pillows on the foggy ground
Your face-first land is not deathly
But prepare yourself for what is to be found.
There you sit on the windowsill,
the cold glass rubbing against your vase
as you stare through the pane to view
the waning sun.
You recall when the fog could be felt on your petals
the rain kissing your face like dew, the humid air
reaching into you from stem to tip
You recall the rush of growing, giving your petals to passerby
blending between the other flowers, bending to kiss the bee
before yawning at the end of day
and sleeping through the darkness sea.
You were plucked late enough in life
losing the length of roots outside
stuffing into the crannies of this cramped blue vase
and gazing upon the eyes of the one who plucked you.
Here you sit on the windowsill, no longer
sunning, no longer
singing, no longer
swaying in the summer spring.
You want to return to the other flowers
You want to be resown.
You want to wither, watching them,
the flowers you are no longer.
But you have something they don’t have
the strength to carry these long memories
the scope to know that strife
is necessary to each pretty white daisy
to survive through all this life.
I peer into the pond water.
tiny face blurring back at me.
Longing to trail my fingers through,
but afraid to fall into the water.
Stuck onto the dock, legs stretched and sunburnt,
I look at your image in the water,
darkened by your eyes and open in the mouth
your skin a shadow hue against mine.
We stand clear and walk away from each other.
I am in the desert, white sands, blue sky pouring into me
pouring into my eyes with promises of stars and storms
and sweet mirage.
I pull into the sand, swimming a dry stroke
and find a patch of cool to soothe my sunburnt arms
I find the pond of water.
Again I stare into the pond, again my face blurs back at me.
Longing to trail my fingers through,
but afraid of disturbing the water.
Stuck in the sand, desperate to drink and worrying my face into oblivion
I look behind me and want to walk
away from the desert and back to the dock
But I stay until nightfall, where the water turns blacker
and I am inside out, exposed and bleeding
unable to stand.
I pull out a hand mirror from my pocket, staring at my face,
it ripples like water, and I can see myself clearly for the first time.
I look away from the mirror
and the world is blurry.