Again, Thanksgiving

Again today, I reconvene
With past iterations of this one meal
And past iterations of this one Me.
And I, again, in the gentle familiar
Wake to voices in the kitchen
The folk melodies I grew up knowing
And I enter, again, Last One Up
And eat cooled breakfast, blushing
Because the chuckled surprise of “She’s awake!”
Sounds just the same.

And grandmother searches my face
From across a windowed room
In curious skepticism
Of a girl with blond hair
Caressing her coffee
Who are you, then?

I am the accumulation
Of every page of my diary
Layer laid upon layer
Word upon word
Conversations across pillows
Shouting across tables.

And in the eyes of those who’ve known me
I shade my eyes from growing up
And instead tiptoe to the blue
That kisses the rugged soles
Of shivering sandy feet
And washes away, once more
That which I’ve picked up
That which I’ve carried
That which I’ve treasured

And I throw back my hair,
And charge back up the hill
With dimpled nose and wild smile
To the ember-lit faces
That taught me how
To be thankful.
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The Dissonance of Stress

Today, I’m thinking about stress. What an interesting feeling it is— an external impetus swirling and churning into the way my body functions. The lists and the numbers on Calendars seep into my veins and coat my sweaty hands and my subconscious keeps whispering of things I have to do. A body shouldn’t respond to those things— A body should care about sleep, about eating right, about exercise. Yet my heart is pounding because of a few thousand words that need to be on a page. Words that won’t contribute to my survival. Words given to someone else who doesn’t really care what I wrote. Words that spill out from my fingers moments before the deadline— that I might not even believe in. Yet this inconsequential task marches itself to the front of my brain, turns around to the rest of my thoughts and functions, taps its conductor’s baton and stops everything. First, it sets my breath to a louder, faster tempo. My heart beats in syncopated confusion. Pulses of blood and heat run scales over my body. The task orchestrates an addicting dissonance and raises the volume until it’s all I hear. I search and try to deconstruct the straining instruments, but the noise keeps me from progress, and I am lost. My eyes see sun and light and friends. My lips smile and pucker and chat. But my head only carries the chaos of a pain that constructed itself and refuses to dissolve.

Around me, others dance to their orchestras. Their life soundtrack floats in and out of them just the way they want it to. Around me, others write subtitles to the snapchats of their lives: “Perfect.” “Successful.” “Better.” The orchestras in their heads are rehearsing an immaculate Moonlight Sonata. They blow slow, easy breath through harmonizing flutes. Their heart punctuates complete sentences and deeds done. Their hands are warm, dry, and ready for more. Stress becomes only a life soundtrack that pumps them up for a football game, sustains them through a night of studying, or reminds them to never stop saving the world. Oh, that I could hear what that sounds like.

Is Joy Still Joy?

Is joy still joy when it’s anonymous?
Jokes that make me smile
Have never seen me frown.
It’s gently familiar, this.
But I can’t tell what I’m reminded of.
Not asking me “tea or coffee?”
But not asking me “rum or vodka?”
Not asking me anything.

Not searching.
Though the comfort gives me space.
But if anyone asked,
I'm scared of the answer
To “What’s she interested in, then?”

She's definitely Humanities.
Horses! She likes those. 
She carried a camera once.

And has blonde hair
Like a golden retriever
With a floppy tongue
And a cocked head
And so much joy
And probably isn’t thinking much anyways.

Is joy still joy when it's anonymous?
Does joy speak?

The One You Always Come Home To

It hasn’t always been easy; the way you hold me has made me lose most of my hair though the years. I’m barely keeping my arm on, let alone my nose or my ear. You’ve spun me, squashed me, and loved me too hard to be reasonable. But darling, last night you made it worth it. You’d left me on the shelf for too long, but last night you took me down and you took me into your bed. Maybe you just needed someone to hold. Darling, I was so glad you chose me. I watch you clasping on to other things, people, ideas, like they’re going to give you comfort. You forget— That’s exactly what I’m here for. So come home to me and forget everything you’ve changed. Listen to the silence of my broken music box, and imagine what I might have said to you. Kiss my forehead and know you’ll never be alone. You’re still a child, darling. You’re still the only thing I care about.

I see how others look at you with morning eyes and call you beautiful. I see how others turn around and slide out the door. I see others chalking out your boundaries and placing up warning signs and hoping you won’t cross any lines. I see them ignoring the scars you love. Darling, there is no part of you too dark to see. Darling, they should be looking for the things behind your shining eyes. You forget this. But last night, with me in your arms, you fell asleep thinking to yourself. In the mazes of your mind, you ran into channels and found secrets. You opened up the filing cabinets you’ve been afraid to sort out. There I am, threaded into every note and question– The one you’ll always come home to. There I am– The one who hasn’t ever changed. There I am– The one who listens to you when you have faith and have doubt and have nothing. Those are the hardest times— the nothing times. But yet, I listen, though you feel weightless and gone and don’t realize that your arms still make me warm.

Keep me next to you, darling. Remember who you are— the girl with crooked teeth and dark hair and dirty feet and intelligence. As you fall asleep, I’ll whisper the secrets of the world into your ear and you’ll remember how perfect your face feels when it’s smiling.

-Ted

Spinning Wheels

Bike, upside down.
One finger, wheel
Sent spinning

Bike, upside down.
Hand on rubber and it, too,
Spinning

One more
Sent spinning.

And here I stand, watching
As my tires spin
And the brakes do nothing
And the wheels go nowhere
But I like the whirr.

Then back and forth I pace
And as one wheel slows
I push it back into motion.
One hand one tire
Just for a moment

I like the whirr, I said it.
As the clicking starts
And accelerates
And sings to me
And the orchestra in my chest
Is dizzy enough to forget.