though he may watch you just that way
with narrowed eyes, a bitten lip
the taste of metal, scent of sweat
though he may say it perfectly
I want to make you bleed —
leave him sleeping.
though he may twist you
pin the hands and bite and growl
gouge you out just so
though he may tell you
you are my only need —
leave him sleeping.
when he tells you you are wrong
but does the same himself
when he tells you not to hurt
but draws the blood himself
when he tells you pretty lies
but keeps the truth for himself
leave him sleeping.
and when you hear her crying
though hidden she may be
clutching at your arms, your teeth, your brain
and begging listen — listen please,
don’t go forth unblinking, turn and
see her, take her with you
but leave him sleeping
leave him sleeping
leave him be.
heat rises. stay high.
be resourceful. fuck a
guy from a beach
town above the water
level but heed the
tide ye lunar whore
the seasons change all
over even if the
weather doesn’t and even
if you don’t. still
the dampness invades more
than just moldy bedding
and old walls. breathe
in. you will feel
it if you can
three girls who couldn’t be alone: some dirty seething tracks in our family line that crumpled us and hooked us on the backs of conquerers for survival. you say I am a free woman but you wonder when the husband’s coming (as we know those tend to wait just around the corner.) the free woman now in the family and finally I have eyes to see, a life spent hiding my head (despite its size) between the thighs of creature comforts to distract from the very illness of just waking. you say I’m independent but depending can keep a person breathing for a while longer if the tank’s still got juice and the tracks don’t run too deep. only me to rely on: a bottle of iodine and a whole lot of gauze to get me through another night as creature comforts just don’t cut it anymore. time better spent on a threadbare single mattress with a hand in your pants and a distant memory of central heating. look out there, see those mountains? men go trekking there alone and do it fine and well. I’d go but it’s too risky for a woman alone so I’ll just keep to this mattress and cooking for one and wearing my underwear inside out because laundry can’t be done for another two weeks (shower wash on a dime with your feet while standing and hang-dry on a flammable heater.) even the best of laundry machines don’t always get the job done, you can’t erase a bleach stain or pretend you weren’t bleeding. the iron stays with you and so do the scars.
Salut, all. I know it’s been a while.
Been thinking lately of how to tell you about these last two months, what I should or should not say. I could tell you about loss, which has become an all-too familiar concept; I first lost my mobility, then my parter and best friend, then my grandmother, all in the span of a month. I could tell you about the journey of quitting anti-depressants for good; or, in the medical vein, I could tell you all about commuting by ambulance, being bathed by home nurses, weekly doctor’s visits. I could tell you about the hard stuff, the long nights full of tears and paint and candle wax, the physical pain and frustration that has come from walking, sitting, sleeping, the fight to maintain a firm emotional footing throughout this incredible storm.
But these are the grimy details. They’re only slivers of the bigger picture of this autumn, a season that will forever stand out to me as one of transformation.
The loss I’ve endured here has thrown into stark definition the things that are most precious to me, the values I most firmly believe in, and more than anything, the incredible blessings that remain in my life — the crazy people, most of whom are at least as fucked up as myself; the love I’ve felt in their little care packages and postcards; the support over Skype and phone as my family processes the death of our matriarch; the thrill brought on by a gust of wind lifting my hair as I cross the bridge over the Rhône, those surges of energy that make this earthly existence such a beautiful and heartbreaking thing to behold.
My way of life is a source of confusion for some; I’ve been described as chaotic, messy, out-of-control. But the reality is that I am needlessly ambitious; I want to plunge my body into all the beauty and darkness and laughter and sadness of this world all at once. I cannot compartmentalize my experiences nor my emotions, and I accept this — I am a tempest, a raging inferno of passion and melancholy. I thrive in chaos, I love with unrelenting intensity, and for this I offer no apology.
Because I broke my spine, all of life has taken on an even higher value. I now recognize the worth of every footstep, the power in the mere ability to stand, the incomparable vivacity of flying through city streets on two wheels, of screaming sweaty in a concert hall densely packed with bodies, of inhaling lungs full of cold river wind. I have forged connections here with other human beings and recognized the resting beauty in the ones I’ve left behind. After Christmas I’ll start living without the back brace, and I will set forth on my quest to live and experience more, to push myself further and beyond my limits; I’ll thumb my way around Europe, scale mountains, have more explosive romances, swim naked in oceans, and I will do this all with the unshakable conviction that life is best spent in the corners of chaos and passion.
And yes, I will keep climbing trees.
Mrs. Thelma Marie Anderson
12 May 1924 — 3 October 2014
Last letter to Grama
You are a special kind of person, the kind that deserves to be reminded of how wonderful they are two hundred times a day. If I didn’t know you heard it enough, I would have said it too. Then, of course, I’d have to tell you I was lying and that you’re terrible. But I think you’d know the truth. You’re a smart lady.
You’re also strong, the strongest person I know. Your strength lives in all of us, and I feel it in myself every day. It helped me fly out of the United States and it helps me every time I have to make a choice or fight a battle. I have always and will always admire you, and I will think of you when I am scared or alone. I will carry you with me everywhere I go, from one side of the earth to the other, to the moon and then back home for a midnight tea party. You have always been my safe haven. I will love you forever, and keep you forever as a beacon of strength in my heart.
GO GET ‘EM, TIGER.
With infinite love and laughter,