In the next room

In one room
my grandmother begs for peace.
She cries for her mother,
screams in confusion and pain.
 
In the kitchen, he cooks dinner alone.
Smelts, fresh bread, salad, a beer.
I watch my grandfather as he moves
quiet and purposeful.
 
He fries the fish as he holds back tears.
He hears his wife cry out in pain.
His own is angry, frustrated.
He tells me,
 
“this was not supposed to happen.
This is not how I imagined the end.”
 
He sits at the kitchen table
the Steelers’ game plays in front of him
He does not notice me watching
as he drizzles hot sauce on his meal.
 
He turns, sensing me behind him,
tells me to grab a plate.
I do, knowing this is an important offering.
 
He fixes me dinner,
too many smelts than I can stomach,
salad, and bread.
I begin to eat silently next to him
 
This is his language of love.
 
He gets up suddenly
grabs a glass from the cupboard
pours half of his beer in the glass.
He hands it to me.
 
I drink. I take him in.
I say nothing. Because I know
he needs this. He needs me
to be silent with him, to eat
the food he has made
to accept what love
he has left to give.
 
To do something
anything.

She calls me tresora

I help care for my Nanna. 
My father and uncle hold her
as my mother and I clean her.
 
She sits and cries,
 
“You should not see this, Marisa.”
 
“I’m happy to be here Nanna. I need to be.”
 
“I want to kiss you.”
 
I lean in, place
my forehead against her lips.
We sit like this for a moment.
 
The quiet is treasure,
just as she’s called me her’s
all my life.
And just like that,
the moment flees.
 
The chaos begins again.
Love in its many forms.
Suffering, too.

April 1st

You share you haven’t 
written
in two months.

I’m startled at the idea
that you’ve not reflected
or inspired
a note
a poem
or paragraph
while I’ve written about you
most days.

I’ve written about you
since the night
I thought
you were something other
than who you turned
out to be.

Burn

There is pain
at the center of my chest
it reaches for cold,
anything to soothe the fire
you had no intention of lighting.

Tell me,
what is the antidote
to loneliness?
To rejection?

You do not reach out.
It hurts more than if
you’d simply write
to tell me
I am not the one for you.

I am burning, burning,
don’t you see?

Moments and meaning and time
swirling around,
wasted.

Wasted on
thinking of a love
that never began
or lasted
long enough
for it to burn.

Language Barrier

In Portuguese
you describe
the point in your life
when you decided
to free yourself
from ties and commitment,
accountability.

In English
you said,

“Yes, I’m open.”

In your language,
in your truth,
you come to terms
with your spirit,
split in two
half existing elsewhere
the other seeking joy, here.

A vagabond has no home.
Potentially aimless,
leaving ruin in some places.
Excitement in others.

A vagabond cannot hold
what I’m asking to be held.

In your language, you proclaim,

“Eu ainda estou levando esta vida.”

Vagabundeando.

I reach for you in my own language.
Your answer is a mixture of
words I do not understand.

"Come here,"

I want to say.

Make a home in my chest,
have adventures with me.

You choose something else,
a different life.
A different person.
You choose everything but me.

I am no place for a vagabond.
I may be searching
but this heart has roots.

I’ll look to the south

You are 
your favorite authors 
your beloved
literary characters.

I dive to understand
your mind 
and come up
breathless and more confused.

I seek refuge among
the clues you’ve given me
in memories a decade old.

I review the
drunken truths you let
slip that evening. 

I only get you
when your guard is down, 
broken in with substances
meant to numb you.

I just hope I find you
before you meet the same fate
as the characters you look to
to fill your lonely heart.