I cannot know

if his love danced
in romantic tones
and heartfelt song

He has no language 
no words to describe
beyond survival
and necessity

the love he 
holds in his
worn and worried
heart

I've had to sense it
uncover it
decipher and hold 
it had to be felt 

I was forced outside
of literal interpretations
there were no
words meant or 
used wastefully
in spurts of 
emotional wind 

Him
he uses no breath
excessively

Perhaps romance
is for those
who have time

He speaks of his first 
and last 
love
as if she 
was born of his
heart 

Inseparable 
intolerable
one and the same

it is confluence 
without 
codependence

I had to learn love
in actions
in crinkled smiles
in lasting impacts of 
fleeting, fragile emotion

love existed because
they made it so
in ways permanent 
and necessary
as the food and water
they offered freely 

in his chair
next to her bed
they sleep
and will sleep

because rest escapes him
when she is not there

Chamomile

They dried its flowers 
and stems. 

He tells me its name
in his native tongue.

I do not understand, at first
until I smell its fragrance
floral and sweet;
subtle.

Chamomile.

He directs me upstairs
in broken English;
I pray I understand enough.

"Grab a bunch,
wrapped
in newspaper."

There in the attic
of the duplex that
two brothers 
made homes,

I find the dried stems
and flower -

Grown in the garden
that's fed family
for 60 years.


I bring down a bundle
and she, before she lost
herself,
stands at
the stove,
boils a pot of water
and grabs a handful
as the water simmers.

She makes tea

she makes tea for 
her and I
but doesnt drink a sip

she watches me
drink

she smiles.

Now
years later
chamomile 
will remind me of them;
their home and their 
garden.

How fitting.

This flower 
holds many 
salves

Its simple yet
honored

Its humble
and enduring.

Chamomile 
becomes
the symbol
of my roots.  



Creases

He's smiling in the photo
soft creases at the corners
of his eyes

I like to think I
was given his smile.

This morning 
I wondered what
words i would use
to describe him.

How his voice, airy with age,
greeted me, 
through that smile
and the creases at the corners.

He'd say,

"we love you." 

I am grateful,
he tried
to offer my language
of love.

What words
will tell 
of the generosity
of a man
who grew up 
before he was 
allowed to be a child?

How will I share,
fully,
the ways he 
loved and worried
in equal parts?

He is not verbose
ever curious, he 
holds space for others
in conversation.

He lacks patience,
is quick to anger.

But mostly 

quick to loyalty
to his family.

He is both mountain
and sea

Strong and peaceful
Stubborn and learning

Even when my Nanna
forgets who he is
and shouts insults,
he attempts understanding.

"Iola,"

He'll comfort,

"what is it?"

She shakes her head
and falls bedind the wall
built from dimentia.

He looks at me,
creases at the corner 
of his eyes,

"she was such a strong woman.
She took care of all of us."

Loyal 
I think I'll say.

My grandfather 
was loyal,
and steadfast
in his love. 

the fawn

I called to make peace,
my head both 
raised and bowed
in defense and apology

Her words biting 
and wounded,

"I think you're fake,"

She adds,

"You're a fake ass bitch."

I politely disagree.
I attempt repair.
I feel both scorned
and pushed away.

I feel defeat
and self-protection.

Years later, 
I wonder about her words.

I decide that, 
maybe I am.

You see, 
being nice isn’t always the answer.

And I’ve learned that the hard way.

on regrets

I didn’t believe them
when they said I’d regret;

I’d build
and we'll grow into 
twisted and tiny fragments
of what came before.

When I sit in pause 
they come to me 
in bursts 
and breezes 

I can regret
and accept 
all in one breath. 

butter and jam

At the counter 
a plate of eggs and sausage 
act as sides to the main
act;

Toast
homemade jam
butter spread 
thick, without 
apology

As a child 
she added extra;
lined each slice 
layered and thick

Butter was her 
language 
of love 

Enjoy this 
without worry,
her actions said 

Your body is 
perfect
when its 
satiated

sit here 
let me 
feed you

I can hear her
in every bite 

I see her hands 
in each layer 

I smile 
when a lot 
still isn’t 
quite right 

It’s only ever enough 
for her and for me 
when our hearts
are full 


or so they say

Isn't it often
told that love
finds us when we
are least expecting it

Like a crash landing
both expected and
surprising

they'll
stretch and look around
in both relief
and gratitude

Left with lingering
anxiety
intertwined with
excitement

I think of this narrative
with a half smile,
a small chuckle.

You see,
I know better than
to allow
or embrace
this serendipitous
storyline

Baby,
I carefully
and backbreakingly
built this ground

for years.

Horizon

Should I leave us
on that shore
with the imperfect shells
under our hardened feet

your hope matching
the aquamarine of
the gentle waves

mine hollow,
hidden
like the sun below
the separation
of sky and sea

(we jumped to
see its final rays
below)

In letting you go
I fear losing
healthy and
consistent
experiences
of love, perceived

(this loss feels paralyzing)

but if we
keep
on that
shore
jumping to see the
sun's descent

If I hold us
in that water
with the steady waves
and unfiltered sun

Perhaps it won't
be a loss at all.

Maybe its
always been
a gain

I'm not there, yet
the finality of
the goodbye

I still hold on
to memories like
they're fallible

like they are
at risk of
slipping away
if I don't focus
hard enough

But soon I know
it's coming;

the sun is setting
behind its
horizon line

and this time

I won't jump
to watch it
fall.

Garage

One night after
a day of
let downs and
all the rest

I parked my car
in its spot;
let the engine run.

I couldn’t
step out
or turn the
engine off.

You came running
down the stairs
to my door.

You reached in,
turned off the car,
guided me out.

I thought maybe
that could be
enough

Fleeting
yet powerful
moments of love.

Temporary

I so badly wanted it
to be you.

It was temporary.
We were, that is.

That made it
no less real.

I sure did
like to pretend,
though.

I held on
just in case
i was proven
wrong.