The scent of holy water

fills the street where she lives

like church every day

like amber to a girl who studies

silver statue catches spiders in the late day sun

we’re green as pollen

wind doesn’t change her

I asked for paper

she asked for records

I asked for photos

she kindly took them

if you know what confession feels like

memories of

mass on Christmas  Eve

always kneeling

holding your little fist to your heart

each time the bell rings

than I know that you know

the scent of holy water and incense;

these streets of spring

 

 

How did you die?

Working, bleeding,

starving, alone?

Did you die in your heart first?

Did you dream of gold?

Was there time to race the children

to believing

lies of happiness?

How did you die?

Was it in the fields under stars singing you home?

Were you loved?

Were there other’s eyes who saw your fear

decorated in uniform

among the religious

in the heat?

Did you fall into bloody mud

under blue skies

where birds flew by

and you’ve never been

so jealous of wings?

Was the fight gone from your soul?

How did you die?

Did you see regret in murderous faces?

Did you know you’d be mourned

by millions of strangers?

How many witnesses to the end?

How many

How many

I hear you rise when the rain comes

in forms of talking teeth

walking bones

weeping clothing

to roll our thoughts

to touch our foreheads

to plea for something more

How did you die?

Everyone’s high in denim jackets

This life will get away from me

Passing muscles

There was an attempted suicide

And a boring guy wearing a green jacket

Amelia tried to eat my sleeve

Made fun of a cool boy behind the bar

Made peace for the sake of it with a casually secretive abuser

The decay of gossip will catch up to him

Like a backwards speeding train

On Wednesday I followed a cop unintentionally

Finalized the night tipsy on rose

And burnt sugar ice cream

Forget what you know or who you bought along the way

Your only experience is your only prescription and perception

You’ve heard about unicorns and giraffes and lions and mashed them all in your head

But your dreams are your own

On this

Butter yellow pillowcase lay your head

Push push push

To soften

The too hard world

Time is on a boat

She’s holding it in her hand

Movie girl haircut

Lion tattooed leg

She’s heading to Disneyland

Making me sick

Making me cry

Baby dolphin touched by human hands dies

Cow cries

Baby chicks bought

Awakening to perverted politics

Cancer cells grow

Tricks like dreams that seem real

I am a storm

I’ve been in all the houses

Each and every room

I’ve yelled at her at the grocery store

Cried in front of my computer screen

Left your eyes right your eyes

Left your heart

And without my invitation it came back

Empty tree

My hummingbird angel tattooed on your heart

I tremble and fall to a bloody death

Eyes twitching at seeing nothing above me

Nothing below her

I forget

I always lock doors. I love when a house has an alarm system. I watch out for anyone in our neighborhood that lingers. I have fear in my heart.

When I was a tiny toddler my mom’s dear friend Ellen loved me. She took me in her arms everywhere she could. She had a bright smile, shiny hair and a kind easy laugh. I was in elementary school when Ellen’s two teenage children were murdered.

I think I was 7 years old. My mom told me the story: Ellen’s son and daughter had walked home from school, to their house in the country, think wide open spaces, deep woods, dirt roads. A man was in the house in the process of robbing them. There was something about a gun. There was something about her son trying to protect his sister. There was something about a bed. There was something about the daughter being found naked and dead and bloody in the shower, I was told she was trying to “seduce” her attacker, her murderer. It wouldn’t be until much later that of course I knew, this poor girl was raped. And there are more details that my memory protects me from.

I like doors locked. I watch people everywhere I go. I listen to my gut. I have fear.

I haven’t seen Jonathan in many years now. We were brought together on game night at a friend’s house behind the railroad tracks. I was wearing a tight color-blocked vintage sweater I had bought in Topanga Canyon. We played cards on the floor in a small Washington town, killing time being flirtatious, fearless and full of fear all at the same time. Was I 19? Maybe, but I felt as wise and awkward as I thought I’d always feel forever.

I volunteered to take Jonathan home but on the way I surprised him and drove us to the old library park. We got out and walked in the quiet warm dark night, under tall trees that I had played under since I was small; talking and laughing about all the things we both liked. I would have some of the most memorable nights of my life under stars and tree branches with Jonathan, but I knew nothing at this moment but the new magic and glow that comes so fast with swirling hearts. Forehead to forehead we kissed for the first time and at that exact moment the sprinkler system came on and we were sprayed on all sides, water whipping at our bodies we ran to the parked car, falling into childish perfect giggles.

A year later our affection had been tested, worn thin and raw like wearing an old sweatshirt on a sunburn. Jonathan and I met up at a friend’s party. We ignored each other for as long as a wait at a bus stop. We found ourselves outside on the front steps catching up, our mutual friends stepping over us as they came and went, giving us the eyes- you know the ones; the ones who’s eyes know you and know that maybe this is the worst idea to see these two people, sitting together in the dark, mostly alone. We bolted from their devastating judgmental glances to my car and drove to the old cemetery on the hill. Jonathan was dating someone new, I wasn’t. But that didn’t stop us from kissing each other, pressed against a large tree amongst the graves. He asked me if I wanted to run through that graveyard naked. He not so much asked but proclaimed with wild eyes and “yes” in his heart, “Why would the dead care?!” So we did even though he got more naked and ran farther than I did.

If you had told me that we would be slammed together by sadness, longing, and lust for one another again, I would have replied- Um. Yes. Of course. This time I was in a relationship with a man that wanted to marry me, that I was so different from, who wanted to change the way I dressed, and walked and talked. The only thing I remember having in common with Robert is that we both loved the Beatles. I was ripe and looking for distraction from this trashcan I had found myself living in like it was “love” and Jonathan called.

Under a sky so twinkling, so lit with the universal charity of stars, so close to diamonds on velvet that you could almost touch them, we sat in a tree over a swampy stream. Talking and kissing he reminded me who I was by just being who he was. He knew my heart and he held it with an angel’s protection. It wasn’t the first time but it would be the last time even though I didn’t know it then.

I haven’t seen Jonathan in many years now. I think he lives on the east coast in a city I’ve never been. I hope that he still laughs easy, reads voraciously, and shares his love and tender smart heart so generously.

 

 

Yesterday, after reading a post by Sayward and a conversation between Joanna and Kristin on twitter I felt compelled to write about my life and my relationship to food and body image. I grabbed a small notebook and a small black pen and began scribbling what quickly came to mind. Here it is:

I’ve always been short, tiny sometimes, small. At 4’11” um, barely because I recently was reminded I’ve been lying for decades because I’m actually 4’10″ish. Somewhere along the way I rounded up and believed it.

So, lies. The lies we tell ourselves: beauty standards, mothers, fathers, siblings, extended family members, everyone has opinions with struggles and stories of their own.

My friends and I made deals about how little we would eat in order to reach the goal of “skinny”.  This was in the fifth grade. We’d coach one another on what we could and could not eat. I remember never having the willpower to follow through, eating ice cream or my mom’s chocolate chip cookies (picking out the walnuts because I hated the walnuts and even though my mom knew this she baked them that way because my stepfather liked them. His needs came first, I learned that because my two brothers didn’t live with us. My mom catered to him, not her own children.) So cookies, candy, ice cream, cheese, too much of everything. We were supposed to only eat yogurt for lunch or something? The details are foggy but it was very restricting and harmful.

I hated the way I looked. I thought I was fat and quite ugly. Like, particularly unattractive. I caught my reflection in a three way mirror while school shopping for sixth grade, I was alone for a moment while my friend and her mom were in a large Nordstrom dressing room together and it hit me when I saw myself. I was so so ugly. Hideous. I swallowed whatever pride I had at age 11 and thought, well I’ll do the best I can but I’m starting with a very low standard. My whole body, mind, and heart hurt with such pain, such disappointment with the definitive label: not pretty. Odd and short and red haired.

I latched tightly to fashion. I had an eye for putting clothes together. I could mask myself- distract people! It was a great idea. I also turned to music, reading and trying to be a good friend. But, the damage I had already done to myself would show up in my words, my gossiping, and more. My pain would effect others. It would take me awhile to see this and do better.

So fashion and personal style, it was one of the only things in my life my mom ever gave me praise for, was a hit. People said I was cute! Creative! Yay! So expressive! Acknowledgment! I was seen! And not ugly when dressed cute! I road that for a long time. Looking back, I almost dressed clownish. Painted clothes, bright colors, hats, ridiculous and distracting. I lost myself without even knowing it: Rainbow Brite Armor. What even was my personal style, interests, abilities, like and dislikes? Who knew. By the time I was 16 with my first job, as a literal clown and face painter at a local amusement park, I had fulfilled my destiny. Hilarious.

My ego was that pretend inflated game that I used to cope with life. I felt invisible for so long, my heart was attracted to dark and unavailable people because I believed so strongly that everyone leaves you eventually anyways. I listened to Tori Amos and the Cure and my boyfriend was the darkest and saddest vampire you’d ever seen. I wouldn’t have sex with him, he cheated on me, broken hearts, knives, threats of suicide (him, not me, that wouldn’t come until my early 20’s).

When I was a small child I took ballet, tap, jazz and later rhythmic gymnastics. It was in the gymnastics class that I started to shine (for myself). I realized I was strong, I wanted to live playing on the rings, which I was quickly told are not for girls. This was also the class where my coach would inappropriately touch all of us little girls under the guise of “spotting”. Cupping our breasts, bums, and vaginas when he knew the few parents who came to watch wouldn’t see. Brazen and destructive sick fuck. I was pulled from the studio by my mom when I told her where coach had placed his hands on me and asked innocently, is that weird? She was horrified. That was the end of dance classes.

Sports were few and far between for me after that, a little volleyball (but, hello- tiny girl). The thing is I was good at the stuff I wasn’t “supposed” to be, weightlifting, pull-ups, push-ups, these were “boy” activities so I wasn’t encouraged, more like discouraged of course. I hated running and all of PE, high school was spent getting notes to get out of class at all costs. I joined theater where I could dance, take up space and be loud because it was celebrated. I built sets for the productions and starred in my senior musical while engaged to my 24 year old boyfriend at 17 years old. I mean, who the fuck let the latter happen? (p.s. I didn’t sleep with him either.)

**************************************************

I don’t know how to wrap this up. I’ve lived a lot of life since then, but yesterday this is where I stopped to go take a shower. Maybe I’ll scribble some more soon and see what comes out. I mean, there’s this one time I punched through a window because a boy locked me in a shed…

 

 

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