When lips part

When my lips part
ghosts slip out
A procession that pulls thoughts
A string of paper hearts
Swaying in the night
Dark and inviting
Like the of a hollow tree

From the cauldron of my stomach
Rising like steam
A lion’s roar
Where sharp teeth and tongue collide
Release.

Whispers of love pass through
and land quietly like leaves
Dispersing like seeds in wind.

I like my words to stick
Like pollen to a bee
Sweet like nectar

I take risks
Searching for the perfect sounds
The way to make you understand
To make the words pierce like a thorn
To make space in your skin
They settle there
Waiting for you to digest.

When I part my lips it is unfiltered
Muddied up
Messy and raw
Words echo inside chambers
Outside they are uttered
Then gone.

Traveling only as fast as sound carries them
Only far enough to reach
To reverberate and dance around another’s inner ear
Heard once
Then fades
Then disappears.

If

If you crack the sternum, forcing apart the ribs, opening like spider legs you will see rows of dusty books, worn pages, creased and bent full of years passed.You will smell a field of daisies I ran in as a girl. You’ll hear whispered words of love, echoing anger, the sound of loss falling like soft rain. My heart may tighten and recoil, lungs expanding like developing cities. Veins like an electric grid. The image of an iron bikini clad warrior woman riding a tiger, sword raised in the air, she lives within, guardian of the bones she spills over. An open window of flesh. This is what pours out. 

An open window, beckoning in the light, the soft filtered kind that sifts through curtains, that finds the scalloped holes in lace. A soft breeze, hibiscus tea, a shroud of burgundy silk to wrap around your organs, a needle and thread to mend the broken pieces, to sew new stories making patterns out of tissue and cells. This is what is let in.

New and old passing each other in torrents of escape and embrace. A big bang, a kaleidoscope. A window in my chest, only slightly ajar. The ever present motion. In. Out. Inhale. Exhale. Repeat.

Practicing the Art of Opening

Open like a field
Grass between my toes
Brushing against my shins
Every insect alive with sound
Wings buzzing
Legs rubbing together
I sing with crickets
Their rhythm like the beat of my heart.

Eyelids jump like grasshoppers
Arms stretched like a praying mantis
Skin tight like a chrysalis
I sway with the wind
Bending like branches
Lips wet like morning dew on petals.

My thoughts carried on the thorax of ants
Twice my weight
Heavy and with purpose.

I open like a meadow from the forest
Streams of sunlight bursting through shadows
Translucent skin
Hot sweat
Sweet like nectar

Words fall like pollen
Dusting my tongue
Dispersing like cottonwood tufts
Seeds traveling high above my head
Free to find new homes
New roots
To share fresh soil with my heels.

A robin’s nest in my belly
Eggs as blue as a summer sky
Incubating
Hatching in my left ventricle
Wings erupting
Breaking my heart open
Spilling out of my chest
Resting on blades of bright green
Cutting me open
Like a wild raspberry bush
Aggregate fruits

Symbiotic mutualism
Every organism connects to another
Like veins
Like spiderwebs

Open like
Laws of thermodynamics
Energy cannot be created
Or destroyed

I am circadian rhythms
Evolving entropy
Carving out my niche

A Love Letter to Self

A love letter to myself. A parting gift, an offering. A bleeding heart tied in string, beating delicately. The removal of such vital parts, an open cleansing.

I float this anatomical heart like a velvet kite, wrinkled and worn. Let go like I did as a child. Push it toward the sun.

Third grade, a secret note scribbled with a message to no one, tied to a red balloon, return address complete. I imagined it would soar across seas, that some stranger in a foreign country would see it land softly at their feet, or save it, tangled in a tree. A simple red balloon with the power to soar in jetstreams, through fog in and around constellations. Waiting, just waiting to be noticed, to be read, to softly give in, allowing gravity to choose its destiny. 

I cast my heart, bleeding over fields, strawberry rain. Empty me. Mi corazon, washing ashore on some foreign beach. Children poking it with sticks, sealing it in a mason jar, tucked in a bed of moss. It rests far outside of me. I give it away without fear, without return. I feel the beat, a phantom organ pumping memory through me.

Summer of Loving and Letting Go

When I dropped him off at camp yesterday he said he would rather stay with me, he would run errands, walk the dog-anything but camp. He held onto me like an 86 lb monkey, trying to scramble up my body. Astutely aware that more than two people were staring at him, a trigger point for anxiety. I kissed the glittery rock in his pocket that would hold my love for the day, warming his hands when rubbed, easing his discomfort, carrying a piece of home with him, a piece to remind him I am coming back. Tears filled his eyes and he buried his face in my chest, embarrassed to cry in front of his peers. I bent down and whispered reassuring love notes in his ear. I kissed him and promised he would have a great day, that no bees would bother him and that the staff knew about autism and how hard it can be to try new things, that there were familiar faces there and I would see him in a few hours. One final kiss and squeeze so hard it cracked his vertebrae, just the way he likes it. His body relaxed and we parted, his eyes watching me on my way back to the car, yelling reminders about the pets and how he’ll miss me.

As I drive home, my eyes tearing up, I think about how hard it is for him to separate, how he still cries like he did at age 4, 5, 6 and every first day of a new school year. My sensitive, sweet boy. I question if I’m too over protective, if he will make friends. I think about his soft hands picking strawberries and him clinging onto his inflatable tube for swimming, how he hates being splashed in the face. I come home to an empty house, to myself and four-legged creatures for the first time in months. It’s eerily quiet.

I think about what other parents think about…I hope he’s laughing, I hope he drinks enough water, and then come the thoughts that come from the spectrum…I hope he doesn’t threaten anyone, I hope he doesn’t have a panic attack about bugs, I hope he relates to the boys in his group, or talks to them at all. I hope he doesn’t only speak in meows or sit down during an uncomfortable situation, refusing to move. I become lost in his way of thinking, his struggles, his need for independence versus his need for comfort, for things to stay the same.

3:00 comes and I park the car. He runs and slams himself into my body with such force, barely looks at me and immediately says, “let’s go home!” He pulls me to the car as I try to inquire how his day was. He says he doesn’t want to talk about it, which brings a smile to my face, because this is our normal, this short tone, the compartmentalizing of home versus time spent elsewhere, how the two don’t relate in his mind. I smile because I know he enjoyed himself. “I don’t want to talk about it” means nothing worrisome happened. He smelled of sun lotion and sweat, his shirt wet with strawberry stains. I smile because this is success. He says he is going back tomorrow and a pride climbs up my throat. I reach into the backseat and hold his hand and he meows.

“I’m so glad you had a good day buddy!” He grumbles at me and reminds me he doesn’t want to talk about it, I smile and tell him that’s just fine…let’s go home and have some Italian ice.

First day of summer camp complete.

expansion. exposed.

An open expansion of curiosity
The thirst of a dry riverbed
Cracked earth
Making room for hard rain

An expansion of community
A support system holding me like an underground mycelium network
A filter that nourishes me

An open dialogue
No lies, no masking words
Just honest
To honor the ability to accept and deflect
that which doesn’t enhance me

Expansive, explosive like the dying star at the heart of a nebula
Dispersing color and element
Letting go of time
Watching it float, bend, collide
A reincarnation of the skies

An opening of strength
in a world that often holds me down
I slip closer to soil
To scrape together the remains, the decay
I sculpt it like sandcastles
A temple for detritivores
Building from discarded remnants of life
Making it breathe again

Overflowing love and guilt and words held silent for too long
Spinning
Spiraling like a tornado
Touching down
Touching skin and sweat
Bruised legs

I held
I hold things tight
Pressed against my breast
Stacked on shelves against my sternum
Quietly
Slowly seeping out

There I am
Split open
Peeled
Unhindered
Open expansion of eyes
Reaching back

I fly these memories like kites
I let them go,
tethered to me by a string
By one
simple
fragile string
I witness them dip and bow in the wind
How did they ever have the power to bury me?

A trail of tattered, faded material flying high
Open
Exposed
I release you
You may follow me,
but you are no longer mine.

Past the Hour of Sleep

Last night I lay awake past the hour of tired. I heard the sky break open, thunderous claps, hard beaten rain, wind whispering through the curtains. The streets were still. My naked body stretched in humid sheets, sticking like honey. The pressing of heat, pressure systems colliding in the sky. I felt awash in the night air, as if there was no separation between the surface of my skin and the air. No separation of raindrops and sweat. The air wrapped around me like a second skin, the dim glow of street lights illuminating my curtains, casting copper light on the front of my thighs, trailing down my legs and sliding between my toes. 

A sense of mystery that the small view out my window, looking over rooftops, caught between electrical wires was expanding and contracting, growing deeper and wider with each breath. I felt the ebb and flow of oceans beyond borders of land, rolling over treetops, the slate blue horizon seemed as if it were the edge of the world, my feet upon the precipice.

I moved in slow motion, some sort of conscious projection hurling myself out of walls and window screens. Suddenly the world was open, electric lines of communication and words delivered as dreams to lost loves, unrequited. I felt them all as ghosts and kissed them gently upon brows, upon bruised cheeks…unknowingly, I thanked them, for teaching, breaking, bleeding and keeping me hungry. The opening of hearts and lips, a portal of past selves floating in puddles.

I once called love, knew it by names and shapes. It now echoes, a deep cavern tucked in my ribcage. Where once it was locked, an abandoned house, boards on windows…I breathe in the soft early morning air, it nourishes me, I honor my ghosts who trail behind me, finding homes in my footprints. I set them down to rest. I lie there, thoughts darting like hummingbirds, my skin warm and tender. I release these so called skeletons. I create new space.

Pieces

I see myself in cracked paint, slipping off the sides of Victorian buildings, revealing layers of time.

The tired petals of poppies and peonies bow to me
Technicolor fallen queens

I live with the solitary crow high in the branches
Feathers sleek
Black silk shrouded in mystery.

Sun erupting through clouds like an eye on fire
Watching me

I float with impressionist clouds
painted lightly
soft blue, scalloped cotton tips

Reverse sunsets
Melted ice cream
The cool taste of iced coffee on my lips

I walk within the smiles of rowdy neighborhood boys on bikes
Stick swords
Warrior calls bellowing

I rest in my son’s eyes,
full of wonder
Brushed by long thick lashes,
the space where the light bends through bamboo blinds

I touch the door, old and worn,
tattered screen
Slamming shut at the corner store.
The sound of
high heels clicking on the sidewalk below.

Damp grass, bare feet
I hear the crickets talk to me

Open
Closed
The electric hum from neon signs
From street lights

All senses come alive
An orchestra of chaos
Fragments of observations
Mirrored mosaic pieces of me

Slow Dive

The lost map that lies buried in my belly like a sunken ship. Parchment paper of scribbled dreams, slightly worn at the edges. Written in blood pricked from my index finger, written in a language I no longer speak. I long to stretch my limbs and hands and eyes, open them to sky and earth. An empty vessel pouring over and over again. I am wrapped up tight like a message in a bottle waiting to be read, to wash ashore scraped by pebbles, soft like sea glass. I ebb and flow with tide, wax and wane with moon. I used to own dreams, conjured out of creativity, wrapped in hope. Now they own me and I am lost among strangers faces, dark alleys, ghosts and animals trying to feed me memory. To wake me, pull my thoughts like string. Go deeper, they tell me. Fall into the abyss, the blackened estuary where the broken parts of me mix. Into the sand and reeds. Dig down. Hands like shovels, feet settle like stone. Wait. Slow dive. Dream soft now behind a thick tattooed skin of stories and armored bones.

Incantation

An incantation, a long liquid breath infused with lavender, salt from the sea and a call of a red breasted robin who wakes me from sleep. The gatekeeper of the morning, an echoing song, tones of the soul reaching me.

A walker between worlds, a communicator through dreams, in forests I’ve known yet never been. A whisperer of the dead, a carrier of a torch, of the unspoken words, the last memory never planted, infinite dormancy. 

Deep within the eyes of deer and owls as guides, as I see in daytime, near dusk, silent and still, a cryogenic connection. A dancer in and out of flames, a secret garden, wild with color, pollinated by endurance and the sweet, pure laughter of a child. Head tilted toward the sky, the scent of pine encompassing, feet dangling from a tire swing, realizing the length and width of the world.

An upside down universe, collecting caterpillars and tadpoles, picking daisies and falling asleep in beds of moss.

These are the gifts I give you- of stories under sheets that make him laugh until your belly hurts, strawberry kisses, and soft, warm hands. Meteor showers and breezy night’s lying in a hammock, special rocks and acorns filling pockets, magic gifts from leprechauns, dog spirits blowing kisses from the clouds.

An opening to shine, to truly love and grow uninhibited. Teach your hazel eyes, how to observe, not only see. A lake you call an ocean, a magic seed planted under a full moon. The beauty in magic and mystery.
Our lungs soar, hearts reach, throats full of wonder, bare feet walking on curiosities. 

Incantations of oranges and new found vocabulary, fireflies and independence, of sparklers set against the summer night skies and geodes that collect the light.

To madness and quick and quiet moments softly murmering like crickets, the gift of expression and creation. Touch, feel, ingest and hold these things dearly in a velvet pouch, a soft, worn leather book, a fine point pen that writes effortlessly. These treasures sewn in flesh and hair, collected in cells and platelets. Savor. Keep them close for me.