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I hid my puffy eyes behind my hair.
You didn’t know I had been crying.
I wouldnt let you in.
You covered me with a blanket and let me sleep.
I threatened to walk away.
You hugged me until I was quiet.
I fell into dark hopelessness.
You gave me room to breathe.
I felt like a young girl.
You weren’t afraid to love me.

I carry a dead beagle and half a dozen homes spread across the country,
a time at Christmas on the farm when I looked through my grandma’s medicine cabinet after everyone was asleep,
lonely winters of too much wine and too much poetry,
bouts of destructive decision-making and lashing out at loved ones,
the most critical eye fixed right on myself,
constant daily fear of being left again,
constant daily fear of not making the most of it,
jealousy built into me that nothing can banish,
so many nights of screaming matches and tears and slamming the door to walk to my car in the cold,
shameful attention seeking,
unrealistic expectations,
falso bravado,
withheld affection,
thanklessness.

I was sitting at my desk
editing a boring report, much like
I am doing now, when I
realized I couldn’t be
the woman to love you.

I would disrupt your
ordered plans for family and
Christian holiday celebrations.
You would make me
wish I could run away.

I still wonder
sometimes
what my life would be
like if I let you keep
me, tiptoeing around you,
dreaming of oceans.

It just takes a few of your words on a screen
and a few minutes in a flowery room
and a few vivid imaginations
to bring me to you.

Back at it

There have been midnights sobbing hunched over the bathroom sink,

afternoons of holding back tears at the office,

evenings in bed shaking while surrounded by old photos,
moments in rehearsal that give pause  (Hamlet: “I did love you once…I lov’d you not.”),
times when self-sabotage reigned supreme.
There has been a heart 
that has been broken too many times
and continues to love and love and love.

H

If I am a deer, like you say I am,
I am the kind accustomed
to being fed by humans.
They find me amusing
before they ruin my bed and leave.
When tourist season is over,
I pick at my own skin in their place
and wait for the cycle to repeat itself.

You say you are a lion,
but I’ve never been close
to your kind before.
It is easy to bound through my forests
even in the dark.
The savanna is another story,
and there I am all alone.

How would a lion and a deer meet anyway?
We teeter together near the line
of too much and not enough.
Loss holds me
back behind the white pines and hemlocks.
Something I can’t name
keeps you under the acacia trees.

I have seen the tallest waterfall and the oldest stand of white pines and hemlocks in Maryland.
(I have loved the waterfalls and the the pines and the hemlocks.)
I have chased chipmunks and a mother turkey chirping to her babies.
(I have loved the chipmunks and the mother turkey and her babies.)
I have floated in the north branch of Potomac River.
(I have loved the Potomac.)

I have walked along mossy stones lining the trails.
(I have opened my heart to the mossy stones and the trails.)
I have splashed in still pools in the rivers.
(I have fallen head over heels for the still pools.)
I have hiked to the tops of mountains.
(I have written romantic sonnets for the mountains.)
I have been sheltered by the cover of the forest.
(I have made a lifetime commitment to the forest.)

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