21 June 2016

My Valley of Unrest

How long has it been
since I left this place?
How many secrets have
come to rest here
since last my feet trod
this path,
how many more ways
of saying ‘no’ have
fallen from my lips?

I used to fear this place,
the place of denial,
the place of 'without.'
It hemmed me in,
when all around,
just out of reach,
was a lush and fertile plain
that stretched out to Beyond.

I said ‘yes’ here once,
and it almost unmade me.
How then can I say ‘yes’ again,
knowing, as I do, what
that one word can cost?

20 June 2016

puzzling pieces

Sometimes I wish I could take every feeling
and put them into an old-fashioned hat box
with a slot in the lid just wide enough to slip
them in. Then I could open the box and take
each feeling out, quietly, thoughtfully, one at
a time; examine its worth, assess its meaning,
ponder its implications, and figure exactly
where it fits in the jigsaw puzzle of my heart.

17 June 2016

Thank You

How do I thank someone
for doing something that
others find distasteful?
Or disrespectful? Monstrous,
even, in some ways? How do
I thank someone for finding
a boundary in my heart
(my body, my mind)
and pushing his hardest
against it, despite knowing
it could all end in disaster?
(It did not; there was rapture
and begging for more.)
How do I thank someone
for finding beauty in a part
of me that I always found
shameful or embarrassing?
How do I thank someone
for unlocking my heart
in a way I didn’t know
I needed until it cracked
wide open? How do I thank
someone for all these things,
when he himself rejected
everything we did together?
How do I tell him that I am alright?
More than alright--I am finally free.
How can he believe me when
all he sees is brokenness
and misery and dysfunction,
when what is really there
is openness and joy and synergy?
There is always give and take,
on every side of this equation,
and nothing would have happened
if consent had not been freely
(enthusiastically, joyfully) given.
So how do I say thank you, Sir,
when last we spoke,
you disavowed the heart
in you I loved so much?

16 June 2016

To F--- P---, on his birthday

Dear Sir,

I know I should not call you that anymore; I do not know if anyone else does these days. I miss you. It is as simple as that. I miss your smile, your laugh, your hugs, the warmth and happiness you brought into my life. I miss that sadistic gleam in your eye and the tell-tale giggle. That giggle was a harbinger of the most exquisite things. I shall not forgot that, ever, not the first night, not the last, not any of the ones in between.

I miss laughing with you. I laugh with others now, and I have found some of what I have sought in them, but you, Sir, you unlocked a part of me, helped find the beauty in the darkness, and held me through the tempest that our paths took us. Standing by your side, I was unafraid, unbound, and utterly undone. Even the time you made me cry was a beautiful and soulful experience. There was a willingness in me I had never acknowledged; a joy in my soul you loosed even as you broke me. Every fleeting sensation was pleasure and pain and starlight.

I am sorry, Sir, so very sorry, for any pain I caused you, any confusion, any contribution to your own personal crisis. I never thought, not for a minute--not for a second--it would end like it did. I always meant for you to shatter me; how it broke my heart to learn you were the one who was shattered instead.

I worry about you. I try not to--I want to trust you found what you sought. I want your life to be full of sunshine and beauty, comfort and truth, and that I may have taken you down a darker road, away from that light and life, worries me too. You deserve to be happy; we never really understood one another on that, I think. It was not a difference of opinion, I believe, so much as neither of us realising that we were seeking the same ends by different means.

My heart is ragged and frayed around the edges. It is held together with glue and hope and knotted bits of string. It is not new, nor has it been for a long time. But still you made it beat faster, just by being near me. You helped to suture wounds I did not realise were still gaping wide, and you salved hurts I couldn't see.

I will carry you with me wherever I go; my heart has been marked indelibly by your touch, both savage and tender. I chose to love you, despite how brief a time we had, despite the idea it was just for fun, just a lark, just a fling. I chose to open myself to the possibility of more, and though I did not get that more with you, my life is so much fuller for you having been in it. You have my thanks, forever, for that.

My hopes, my dreams, my love go with you, and starlight will follow in your wake. Happy birthday, dearheart.

Scars Linger

‘Memories fade but the scars still linger…’
-Tears for Fears

Once acid spilled, seeped
between my toes. Webbed
the flesh, melted it and
fused the pieces together.
Made knobbly bits of raised
burns that took ages to heal.
I remember how it felt
to walk when the skin
puckered and stretched,
tried to scab over
but needed to be cleaned
so often, scabs never formed.

Working a piece of soapstone
with the wrong tools
in art class at a public
school, and the wedge-shaped
carving knife slipped
and sliced the fleshy part
of my palm, extending
the heart line with a bright
red slash that bled into my
cupped hand, then washed away
in a splash of pink
in the stainless steel sink.
The skin tried to knit
back together right away
and kept pulling apart
whenever my hand moved.
Finally, all that was left was
a thin white line reaching
from the natural divot
in my palm all the way
to the side of my hand.

A round bulb of flesh
nestled against my sternum
just above my breasts
soft to touch, the evidence
of my stubbornness being
outdone by my body
rejecting a piercing
I kept forcing on it.

The part in my hair
on the left side,
brushing my pixie cut
forward from a cowlick
on the back of my head
exposes the thin cut
on my scalp where
my head collided
with a steel fence post
in a moment of
misperception. Hidden
by long, thick hair
for years, unremarked.

Three-quarters of an inch
of raised, pink flesh
a hand span from my pelvic
bone, just below the hairline
below the waistband of my
pants, where once I had
a mark distinctive to me,
that if someone saw just
my body, would know
was me instantly. Now it is just
a slash, and I had no say
in whether I wanted it removed.

Each scar on this pale and
fragile body, each cut made
in this thin skin, every hurt
that drew carmine drops,
and I can recall how I got
each one. The scars on
the inside of my right wrist,
on my left knee, right elbow,
chin, temple, collarbone,
at the nape of my neck.
I remember the needles,
the knives, the doctors,
the asphalt, the bicycle,
the bottle I dropped.
But somehow, I have
forgotten where
some of the scars
in my soul originated.

written 3 April 2016

Other Words (3/**)

I am not like you.
But we are alike
in our otherness,
aren’t we? You have
words that belong
to you; I have no words,
because I am not
other enough. I am
too much a part
of the sameness
of the ‘us,’ rather than
the ‘them.’ You exist
in a space separate.
I exist in a space in
between. But between
seems so far
from either place,
like a bubble outside
of time and space.
It is the void I fear.

written 8 April 2016
**third in a series, total number of parts unknown

Hidden Costs

The doctors told me
this was what was best
for me, and maybe they
were right. I can see
the benefits already, but
they did not tell me the costs--
not the true costs, anyway.
Six weeks of recovery, with
nothing but the demons
in my head to make
their unholy racket.
Six weeks of being unable
to silence their slander.
Huddled in my home, alone
and injured. Listening
to others discuss their successes--
or else their disappointment
at my choices. My body,
my pain, my parts, and now,
my scars. But like everything
else, it is always about how
my choices affect them.
Never about how
my choices affect me.

Written 19 April 2016

15 June 2016

My own private war

The thing about depression is that it is an agony without an externally visible cause. There is no scraped knee or spasming muscle or laceration of tissues to explain the pain of the existential crisis, and this is why it is so hard to believe it should be (and can be) acknowledged and parleyed with like any other hurt of the physical body.

I have this pain, you see,
(no, you cannot see--
there is nothing to see,
no broken bone,
nor grievous wound,
nor fever, nor spasming
muscle: not even a scratch)
this agony inside me.

No visible cause,
nothing to bind,
no obvious need
to splint or salve,
nothing to say,
‘This is why I hurt.’

And even when it lies
quiescent below
the surface of thought
it aches in the most
tender and secret
parts of my mind.

And I have no choice
in the matter: I must
rise each day to do
battle against
an unseen, unknowable,
intractable foe: crafty,
devious, cunning,
deceptive and deadly.