The Embrace

The Embrace (a poetrait)

I embrace myself, perhaps too fervently
else my arms would be too often empty
this then is my solitary song of triumph
I embrace myself

see this woman, subject and object
dispenser of judgment, repository of desire
see this face, cheek bones, lips and eyes (no stranger to tears) watching, signaling joy,
see my joy, it is not unreal (and beauty?
whether by shape or joy or some other aspect; this privilege, this burden; am I not beautiful?)
I am
this body: arms and legs, neck and womb,
my breasts, my arms, and the soles of my feet
entry wounds and exit wounds (each sacred, each profane)
this home
my body my self, because I am no mere resident
but much more

I taste the world and the world knows me
I dance upon the earth’s back; my toes caress her
I roll in the grass and kiss her neck
I enter her and hide in her womb and thus
am born in profanity and thus egested in holiness
Joyfully, I shout “I am alive”
and too, joyfully, whisper “I am alive and my life shall not be without meaning”
and the universe vibrates with my voice

I embrace myself,
too fervently at moments when joy is insufficient
while I wait for an answer to all my frequencies
for that sweet kiss in return
that golden braid connecting me to some
(and here is the heart of my search, the center of each
step and stumble forward) other
I embrace myself against silence, against the heatless void
against your embrace
while I learn to surrender standing

 

 

odd angles

i am at angles, legs akimbo
arms hanging lifelessly
watching towers rise and fall and rise and fall
attached, no
not attached, not remembered for the work underlying all such rises and falls
see the cultured vee shape of my feet at rest and the toes like sentinels waving their ascent to passion

you are at curves
falling always falling away, rolling this way and that
shameless in the flowing flowering loosening restraint of thighs over thighs over pillows drifting always down, water and the moon inventing dance and song at once, as though the silence had never before been broken

we are at odds, the evens left quietly, without ceremony on the mat, the cat batting them down the hall, down the stairs, out the door, into the street for men in suits to stumble over in greed, for little girls to scoop up in their arms like dolls and then lay them carefully in the gutter to sleep

oddly we lay, unevenly pushing or pulling or burrowing deep in the folds
(yes, we are singing, tunelessly, with meaningless words and shapeless gestures;
yes, we are dancing)
and so achingly do we extend our necks and curl our fingers that we unwittingly invent new shapes to hold what cannot be contained
until, both our bodies suddenly agree,
as though by happenstance, a serendipitous turning of the inside out
dying as though all the suns in history had died at once
until, we are no more

balls

eleven, twelve, thirteen
balls rolling down the high street
elegantly, sashaying together
in no hurry, seductively glancing about
to see if baseballs or golfballs might be checking them out
colorful, tight rubber
seeding the earth with glitter
they avoid the football field
“those guys don’t know how to roll”
its the bowling alley for them
candlepin
they are very young
and ten-pin balls are
so very worldly

behind a curtain

behind the curtain
a vague shadow, human shaped
“get out” I mouth soundlessly, then shout
“Get Out”
children in my wake
they ask to know me better
and here I am, so protective
screaming at apparitions
I am too scared to ask
what a ghost might need in my shower
the children are crying
because I am scared
the ghost is a woman, I know
not violent or even angry
it can’t be their mother
she’s not dead, true
but she is a ghost
or pretends to be
why am I shouting, why are
the children crying
they are grown, have children of their own
and I ask again
what kind of father do they need
today

Beginnings

How can I know when is a beginning?
This word is an arbitrary line across the flow of time which only means, “this is where I start telling my story”
But our story doesn’t recognize lines and didn’t begin at the telling
we knew each other, that first time our hands touched
I was already myself when your skin met my skin
And there is no Me absent You
We didn’t come together the moment your words called me across the room
Your voice was my familiar home
I don’t even know the moment our dance began?
I only know the momentum of our feet,
the weight of our bodies,
the feel of my breath in your breath
The sound of our hearts beating wildly,
as my heart is beating now,
as your heart is beating now
Even our bodies cannot contain our story
How then could time,
which is, after all, small and myopic and secretive,
hold us in so small a place
as a beginning

Invitation

An empty bench
dappled light through
the barely spring struck birch
shading a disinterested come hither
a regardless vulnerability
Is this some kind of love?
Or my disappoinment showing again?

angels

I’ve never been to Berlin
but I understand they have angels
sitting atop Tiergarten
watching
waiting
probably
they are here as well
perhaps
one is sitting on the corner of that building
right where the red brick meets the white
watching
waiting
silent
desire under glass
and after all
what can angels do
beyond reminding me
by their powerless strength
of my terrible freedom

Essence

Once upon a time our once upon a times were recorded in cornerstones, foundations, Corinthian columns and colored shapes in glass and stone
And in those spires and tiled porticoes was expressed the story and extent of our reach from the mire of our own brutal natures toward the vaulted ceilings of heaven
Toils, temptations and triumphs writ in intricate relief, on faces unwavering and backs unbroken

Look around you
The stories have not changed
But the telling has exploded in a cascade of subtle variations

Sunlight through the waterfall
Droplets of light dancing with the endless voices of the colorless night

Have you listened to the stories, to the yearning beneath, to the questions
Are we still begging the gods’ favor?
The hands of the almighty have covered us in glory, yet do we shrink in shame? Cowering before the brilliance of our soul

Our fractured voices, blowing softly through the intricate spaces between memory and the moment,
are made to capture light, to extract form, to liberate color, to expose the essence, aching for unfettered daylight

Look around you
These visions belong to you
We do not see the shape of beauty from some isolated mountain
Inspiration is not the province of the hermit
however remote her cave,
we share the same milk, suckling at the breast of the communal muse
We are the artist, we are the work
We are the violence that birthed the first morning
We are the sleep beyond the end of night

the next shore

The river bends slowly
The river inhabits the night
with its quietest voice, speaking a lazy urgency
with its quietest companion, the night sky,
dark and heavy like disappointment
dry and flaked mud encrusting my hands
I listen, but hear no promises at the furtive shore,
I listen with my petrified limbs, but see
no palliative hut for shelter
no fruit tree to feed the pause
it is the stream that speaks
it is the lumbering flow that begs my surrender
do i wish for some death-like rest
do i hope for a flood to do my work for me
am i a slave to the force in my hands
am i a slave to the blood in my veins
am i wanderer or king
am i stranger or friend
I breath, and breath, and breath
I breath and fall, and am borne toward that next shore

vampires

sometimes I tire of being fair and caring
of seeing things from your point of view
of thinking broadly of cause and effect and the delicacy of the little girl in you
sometimes I tire of looking for my culpability
compassion does not always beget compassion
and perhaps, I have learned that vampires are real

you see compassion (i do not say feel) as a handle to hold:
my strong heart, which loves you and loves I and loves youandi
becomes your feasting table, became your feast
eat this, it is my flesh, drink this, it is my blood

I am no savior (much as I want to be), no messiah, barely have I the blood left to move myself
barely have i strength to let you alone
your tears, your accusations, your unending demand to feed, demanding more of me until i no longer know my hunger from your hunger, until there is only feeding and preparation to feed (and hope, never ending hope that at last, you will say “it is good”)

my strong heart is growing wiser, it will not run and hide forever (today, yes, and maybe tomorrow also)
and while it still bleeds for you, (because my heart is made to bleed and I will not change that),
you may no longer taste the iron and the wine, you may no longer satiate your hunger through my veins
But I shall still bleed, to feed my own need
Until I learn the taste of new drink