quiet

I like him best 
while he
plays his strings 
kisses my neck 
existing quietly,
together 

Is that fair 
when so much 
of his energy 
is loud and bold 

sometimes I think
the quiet of the 
last two years 
changed me 
even when 

I resented it. 

smothered

Up until that point
I had seen no 
clearer skies 
or stars as abundant 

I remember you
in images of 
the fire on the shore 
sounds of the dark waves,
the blanket on the sand-

I read my book instead 
of looking at you
under those stars.

And tonight 
across the 
blackest of clouds
a lighting storm
a cascade of 
lines and energy 
of matter and change 

You were both there
and not there 

Just the same as
under the Milky Way
at the shores of 
the Great Lakes

on the edge of the fire 
that we smothered with 
sand and water.


Hands

I left you in July,
started again in August. 
I’ll spend September 
wondering how
you are. 

You sat there
holding my hands,

“I don’t want to 
let you go,”

You implored,
as if you could not see
that I no longer knew 
the hands in my own. 

I knew you no more
or no less
than I had
the July before
or the one before that. 

“I miss that special bond,”

He said to me, a week after. 

What bond 
is silent,
I wanted to ask. 

What bond 
exists only 
in two laptop screens
and a tv monitor 
a late night cuddle,
a quick- paced walk. 

Perhaps you did know me
more than I knew you. 

Maybe I let you know me. 

The me that left 
and rose from your
bedroom floor
knows not 
of how or why 
two years from the day 
I asked for promises 
changed everything 
I thought I wanted. 

Fireworks

I wanted to 
write
in biting
verse

Asking about
your party
and my friends
in attendance

I’d make some
metaphor about
Independence Day

I wanted to
lash out
and ask
how the space
felt as you
hosted.

I’m still angry -

I’m still grateful.

I’m not going
to maneuver my
schedule around
your’s, anymore.

And I won’t
reach for you
in drunken texts
or in venomous
poems.

In the end
all it is
is missing you
and us
and the summer
before

And if I can’t
let go
I hope you can.

I hope you find
better

I hope it’s
more than
fireworks.

Oh,
didn’t I tell you?

I repel
the explosions
and the smoke

Sometimes
I hate them.

The empty sky
and hidden stars
once the show
ends.

But you’re
not them
and you’re
no performance

You’re sun
in February
and lightning
in June.

You are joy.

“How was your party?”

I’ll ask, pointedly.

“Did you see fireworks?”

And if you ask if I
saw them, too,
I’ll nod and smile
in the same
restrained way
you smile at me, now.

“Sure, I saw them,”

knowing damn well
I didn’t even look.

Overused

It’s the pendulum,
swinging one way
and returns again

Back and forth
gravity keeps its
repeating patterns
oscillating between
doubt and knowing

Kinetic to potential
and back again
until gravity wins

I’m the one receiving
the force
I’m the one asking
for change
and staying the same

Tensions
decide how long
this period
will last.

Swing me,
I want to say.

Do what you
must and do it
until the stillness
feels so empty
I have to
do it again.

Is the metaphor
correct?

Maybe it’s me at the ends
and not in the middle

Maybe I’m both.

Split

“Stay present,” 

He advises.

Lovingly;
Selflessly

“I don’t want
you split between
two places.”

I want to laugh

You see,
you’ve been with
me, in the
mountains of
West Virginia.

Along the shores
of the
Great Lakes.

I saw you in
the mouth of
Mammoth Cave.

When the fireworks
reflected in
the D.C. waters.

I haven’t left
your hometown
in weeks.

“I’ll do my best,”

I assure him.

I’ve been trying
to untangle my
feet
wrestle them into
one place

For over a year.

loves

and in the end
or the beginning

which ever end
you start to
untangle or
string together

it's in loving them

both

that will
restore

or
renew

which ever
frame you
choose
it’ll be the
same picture

It’s not one
or the other

I keep trying to
picture either
course

and they begin
with loose ends
and finish
in tight knots

I’d rather hold
both

if they let me.

Appetizer

"Can we table this conversation?"

He asks.

Two glasses of red wine
rest between us.
He plays with the stem
with his stable hand.

I do not respond.

I know he cannot
answer what
I want answered.

I look at him,
overcome with
a sorrow
that the blue of his eyes
does not calm.

"This is the first serious
relationship
I've experienced."

He continues,

"I do not want
my life to feel
settled yet."

As I watch his
lips move
I hear
a different narrative
an unsaid message.

He takes a bite
of the appetizer
in front of us.

It's come before
we've ordered
the main course.

I watch as he
enjoys its taste.
He takes another bite.

"What should we order next?"

He asks, excitedly.

Next?

I want to ask.

Isn't this enough?

Easy

It's a word 
and you're a man
of intentional speech
words
carefully crafted
thoughtfully delivered.

"I love you,"

eyes burrowed into
my own.

"I love you, too."

I am a woman
who uses words
emotionally
lightly.

With you
I take a breath
my mind slows
I seek intentionality.

I look to
the source of my heart's
peace
I reflect.
I decide what I've chosen.

I will love you
when you are free
while you are
choosing time
for yourself.

When you seek
space
When you need silence.

I won't simply
love you
when it’s easy.

I will love you
when there's
distance.
When I
lose sight of
us and only
see me.

I will
love you
when you’re
reading the news
or watching YouTube videos
or working too hard.

I chose to love you.
And I will love you
freely.

I will love you
at your
freest.

Sand

I arrive at the 
front door of a house
that holds
the dynamics
of family 
as pervasive
and as deep
as a bloodline. 

At the doorstep I
witness the
lines of 
victim-hood
blended with
the incessant
need to be right.

In the doorway
I take a breath
in anticipation.

I notice the sand
that's been carried in on
the feet of
my beloved
family members.

I don't want to feel
the sand
on the bottoms of my own
or on the seat of my chair
or the floor of the shower.

I wonder
about the
rifts 20 years
in the making 
and what they've
done to the floors
of this home.

They seem as
ubiquitous
and invisible
until felt
as the sand that
found its way
into the
fabrics
of this family.

The floors take the brunt of it
scratched and rubbed down
until layers of coating
are exposed raw
until the foundation of this
home cannot
hold the weight
of what we bring to it.

At the doorway
I look inside.
I see my mom and
her sister sitting
at the kitchen table.

I wonder what it is
I do not know
about the sand
between their own toes
particles they may not even
feel anymore
since its become
ingrained
into the way things are.

I don't want to feel
the sand
on the bottoms of my feet
or on the seat of my chair
or the floor of the shower.

Sand belongs on the
shoreline
where the ocean can
do with it
as she pleases.

Here, the sand
clogs and scratches
it irritates and hollows.

I take another breath
remove my shoes.
I wash my feet of the
abrasive
and the stubborn.

I take care not to step
in the sand
my family
carries in.