I loved you before you were beautiful
Before the edges of your eyes
Creased and splintered
Into rays of wisdom and grace.
Before stories wrote their lines
Across your skin with ink of shadow.
I loved you from knee height,
When your voice scratched hearts,
Before you learned to coddle a spirit
And fear the sun. Before I understood
That your life did not begin with me.
I loved you before loss stitched its
Memory into your bones,
When your hands
Were soft and strong
But not yet open.
I loved you before beauty Settled into you for keeps. Before…
I’d like to say I think of you
In the minutes before dawn
When trees slough off the charred cloak of night
To surface like soldiers on a long road home
But you did not believe in ghosts
And so, those fine, emerging limbs —
A mirage, a trick of light for fools
Cannot be your un-pulled thread.
You are my past, never present.
(She swears you were not cruel).
I should say we think of you at sunrise That mad spilling of light — pink wine Thrown across a carpet of clouds, soaking us In a promise of warmth…
We zip our coats up to our chins. John had offered to talk standing there, in the warm hospital lobby, its glass walls scarred by a half-completed renovation. Signs promised a brighter future for the building, which seemed to be undergoing a gruesome, loud surgery. “Whatever you want to do…” he’d said, over the din of voices and hammers. He knew I’d get cold quickly outside, and thought I might want to catch my breath after spending 56 minutes squeezed, like raw sausage, into the casing of a pounding metal tube.
It was a sweet thought. Twenty-six years in, my…
In the end, they all agreed to testify —
To be seen in the glare of an unkind light
By those familiar souls who would, in knowing,
Now and forever be strangers.
The lake matches the sky.
It’s been like this for weeks.
A mirrored wall of grey
Erasing the horizon
The days have no hours.
We don’t have much to say.
Even the water has finished
Moaning, or else the snow
Has muted its whale songs
And we are none the wiser.
Still. I am listless as a kid waking
On the morning after the prom
Everyone else attended. Waiting
To see what has changed
And what is out of reach.
The ice won’t hold us yet, nor
Send a note to say, It’s safe now
To cross. …
On the first day of spring in the year
A virus dug at the soft bits of
Our lives like a bike chain slipping
From cog to flesh, Ellen said No.
The air was warm that day, the snow
In her yard, once a cloud of milk,
Had shrunken to an isolated patch –
Like an unpopular kid in a playground.
Are you well?
She was standing on the walkway she’d built
One summer with Dan, while the baby
Whose babies no longer go to school
Kicked naked on her blanket in the shade.
Back then, Dan found saffron in…
Beneath their legs, the dock took sips of the lake.
He listened for the loon’s call. He thought it was still
Morning. She leaned against his bony knees,
Head pitched toward his chin, dimpled
Like a bullet hole. She shivered.
His arms — later he would see this —
Could have wrapped themselves around
Her shins. Instead, hair in his mouth,
He asked her what she wanted.
To be pampered, worshipped, adored.
He heard: Shipped in a dory.
In Pampers! Shipped in a dory! She chimed.
He thinks loons mate for life.
He’d slept too late, ignored the rising bed…
She blinks, tilts her head, speaks.
You are on mute, I say, squinting
To read the poster on her wall.
No… She mimes. A concert in a park
Or an art exhibit, something freshly
Out of reach. It’s your headphones.
She’s almost always right.
This is not a routine meeting.
A paragraph went missing, she says.
She had her baby on her lap, maybe
That was why the words got dropped.
She knows it has been fixed and still
She can’t stop crying. I thought I had…
The baby isn’t sleeping.
And we are not machines. We just Live in…
Author of Say Something, Our Friendship Rules and One of Us. Mostly writing poetry for Medium. Secretly writing non-fiction at home.