Comparison

Sometimes I
look at my poetry and
see a lack of seriousness,
of trauma.

I hear exceptional writers
describe the oppression
the discrimination
the injustice
the world
provides.

I wonder if my own
experiences
my own hurt
the self-made kind
the mental spirals
my self-reflections,
are as universal
or as worthy
to be shared.

And maybe the comparison
is where the actual fallacy lives.

Is it wrong to take space
in arenas where there are no
rules or
standards
for how much pain a piece
must contain?

What I choose to explore
through writing
is most often
the ways in which
I interact
with intimacy
and the ways in which
I do not.

So maybe
I'll give myself permission
to write
without judgement.
To share without
comparison.

living room floor

I kept my winter coat wrapped around me like it would be taken from me. Walking into your house, I could taste the lingering cigarette smoke. When the silence felt suffocating, we tried humor. Finally you asked for what we both knew I would not, perhaps could not, give. My feeling of resolve demanded my attention. I became aware that this time, this meeting, could not be kept afloat from half of myself given to you. I could not offer pieces and call that love. In that moment on the floor of the room where we both built and collapsed it was decided there would be no last time. I took responsibility for my own feelings. I took my healing seriously.

Almost as if we planned it, memories of the last 2 years played before us in the realization that I would no longer fit, these were patterns I could not sustain. I remembered the day you bought this house and we stained the floor and installed a new rug that we now baptize with the remnants of grief. We opened the door, gutted the house and attempted to restore what we could. As I went to leave, I did not look back in your direction. I left the key on the kitchen table. I left us on the living room floor.

balcony

Water dripped from above
like it was raining
except
the humid air
did not bring with it
precipitation.

I looked overhead to find
the source
and saw the light on
and her face
looking over the railing.

Naturally I wondered
who she was
and what she was to you.

She disappeared.
The light, now off.

I remained below
still watching the water
as it splashed to the ground,
watched it pool
as I walked to the front door.

I placed my key in its lock
and let my own
hopeful expectations
drain.

someone like you

I feel small
even contemplating the idea
that eyes like yours
hands like yours
kindness like yours

could consider me.

Eyes that linger
like they want to see.
Like they want to remember.

Gentle hands,
intentional.

You remember details.
You ask questions.

I wonder
if someone like me,
flawed and spontaneous,
direct,
could attract someone
subtle and
tender
like you.

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.