Thursday, August 20, 2015

when you have to move on

I felt him look me up and down
Tracing my lines with his hope
I thought, 

"Can I go home now?"

Little girl, arms full of a stack almost taller than her
Arms full, hands full, balanced precariously
One thing slips, it all falls
All falls if one thing slips, 
And all I could think was,

"Can I go home now?"


Home to you where I can slowly, carefully, drop the pieces to the floor, one by one
Not too much banging and clanging just
Let my arms swing by my sides
Arms tight from the weight of everything I've been carrying since you (seeing me eyeing the lay of the land, judging how many steps I could make, what else I could balance, maybe on my head? around the corner? up the stairs?) made the decision to stop helping me
Let them fall
Reaching up to the corner of my frame, peeling back
So that what I keep behind the surface is exposed
Can feel warmed by the soft light from that one lamp
And I can peel it all the way off, roll it all up neatly, and let it fall silently onto the rug
And I can finally let my taut insides condense, let them relax into a pile that fits under the crook of your arm
My edges softening until I am only part person and part fluff of blanket
Wrapping us both up in your arms holding onto my core
And tracing of the lines of your face with the tip of my finger
And the edges of your mouth turn upwards
Smile upwards
Because this is what home feels like
Your face buried in me while the final drapes fall off the windows in drips that run down my cheeks as I allow the rest of the spurs to leak out
And you just let them
Because it just became safe here at home where 
Whose arms and legs are whose
No longer matters.

"Can I go home now?"

Because while one of the cards dealt in that hand was uncertainty
The rest of them were this hand...
That fit perfectly into that hand...
That hand with the cards just laid out
And if I could just figure out which to play when
If I could just be better at cards, get better at cards, practice my shuffling a little longer,
Maybe you would just stay 
Maybe we could just stay in our tangled, fleeting home
And when I found myself somewhere holding a stack
I could always go, 
As I had always dreamed, 
Back home.

You tried to be kind.
Perhaps this was most painful because you tried, really tried, to be kind.

Limbs untangled, the spurs remain tightly packed in all available wrinkles
And sometimes, when shaken (especially at night),
They still march down my face.
Drapes hung.

There is no going and no to.
Only stand still, look at the staircase, and try very, very hard (tip of finger trembling) not to drop the stack.

Tuesday, April 15, 2014

deeper instinct

I, with a deeper instinct, choose a man who compels my strength, who makes enormous demands on me, who does not doubt my courage or my toughness, who does not believe me naïve or innocent, who has the courage to treat me like a woman.
-- Anaïs Nin


I have come to drag you out of your self
and take you into my heart.
I have come to bring out the beauty
you never knew you had
and lift you like a prayer to the sky.
--- Rumi

to Latte

Through a haze reeking of alcohol, I could see your insides. I could see your hands grasping desperately to hold the very end of a rope. Tears poured down your face as you told me of the hands that have always pulled you down when you tried to do something—anything—other than survive while the world wrote poems about you and stood up in coffee shops, shouting into the faces of people who might be you but also might have never, ever held the hand of a person whose insides looked like yours.

Whose outsides look like yours.

Whose latte-colored skin reminded me of swirling hips and bright colors, which in another time and place might have sounded like the marimba or steel drums or a djembe pounding out over the space while you danced (I’m sure you were dancing) and raised your arms (I can feel you raising your arms) to the sky in praise of rain.

The same rain that fell on the women of whom I am made, rain that soaked half of them through their chadors as they protected their hair and faces and honor
And the other half dripping through straw hats as they fed goats and grew tomatoes, necks burning ever redder in the Georgia sunshine.

I want you to know that I cannot feel the difference between us.

I want you to know that when I close my eyes as I hold your hand as you squeeze the raindrops from your eyes as the expert hands of a woman who sounds like my grandmother gently examine the scene of the crime
Probing, looking, gathering every detail
Taking pictures
Pictures that I’m sure look like mine. Because I am only a shade lighter than the latte that is your skin. Mine has only a drop more milk.

I saw your shoulders square.
And then I saw them curve inward when you put your hand out to help and winced as you were pushed apart, and put your hand out to stop or to not stop, as your mind fought with that hand and it just stayed there, frozen just above the sheet, holding onto the only thing that had ever been steady.

I cannot feel the difference between us.

In that moment, I wanted to reach my hand into the center of your chest and grab your hand before you let go of the rope. I could see your fingers starting to tremble, your hand slipping off the end of the rope, eyes darting back and forth, trying to hold on, trying to make it look as if nothing was happening, covering your eyes, trying to push the tears back in, hide the raindrops, run.

I reached my hand out.

Insides screaming for you, I grabbed your hand.


I cannot feel the difference between us. I can lift you. Come up to solid ground.

The Thistle & Shamrock

Scanning stations on the way home. Spring is exploding into bright fireworks at the ends of each branch. This is The Thistle & Shamrock. I’m your host, Fiona Ritchie.

Riding home in the car. Much younger. Before boobs. Before heels. Before outfits that made sense and boyfriends and husbands and career and cancer that eats vacation days and hope and vomits out emptiness.

Hair tied back tightly, but bits still escape. If I don’t hold my head just right, they whip back and forth across my face.

Sun has gone down. Cool air. Moist and clean and full of bits of green and growth. Smells like forest. Sounds like wind and airy, floating voices that seem to come from the dark itself.

We are taking the long way. The head of a sleeping sister bobs on each shoulder. The baby draped across me. The baby who is always hot. The baby who sweats. Little face plastered to my chest, blond curls blown back and forth to bumps in the road. One more asleep behind me.

I can lay hands on each of your limp, trusting selves.


Heart full. Mind wanders.

Mother (or Monday night revisited)

I had the strongest sense today that my heart was in the Hands of Someone Whose Hands Heal. The Sense spoke in the words that poured from her as I pointed out my broken bits. In my mind’s eye, I could see her drawing herself up straight, looking right into my eyes, smelling like home, soft hands almost more familiar than my own, with that look that is clarity, and breathing directly into my center:

“There you are.
Look away if you want, but between the light and the shadow, you exist.
When you forget, I will remind you.
You exist, and even when I disappear from this crust, I will see you.
I can see you.
You glow, and you are not lost.”

Seams give out somewhere not visible on the surface.  Sewing it up is truly an endless task, and the needle pricks are sometimes more than I can stand, and sometimes I have to pause, to rest, to remember why I’m sewing and not just tossing the dress of a life I’m living OUT.
It feels worn out.
I took a misstep. This wasn’t what I was making when I started, not the way the pattern was supposed to work.

Needs patches.
May be time to throw it in the rag bag.
Must have been if that seam blew…

So I stop. I put it down. I stretch, I lay flat, wiggle fingers and toes.

If all else fails,
The ground, with no help from me whatsoever, will hold me up.

Also call for help.
She can hear you over the noise.
She can always hear you.
Will always want to know your favorite color and what you learned in class today.
Will always laugh loudly at your jokes that are only funny when you’re telling them to her.
Will always read the words once you’ve lined them up again.

Also Life is, among other things, a gift.


Begin again.

Thursday, August 15, 2013


I am sitting down to write something for me.

I'm going to write it about cool, crisp air that asks politely for a cardigan,
About the peach-colored glow lining the mountains just past sunshine,
And how I wish that I could paint the curve of the rich, patchwork gray and green and yellow of those mountains onto the insides of my eyelids...
How I can't stop taking pictures of how tall they are and how I can't believe that I can climb them even a little,
How the variation of height and texture must make them taste somewhere between the crunch of the greens I picked the other day and that chocolate cookie that looks like a child's tongue stuck out in taunting.  It is filled with what I can only assume must be clouds.  And butter.

Since I am writing for me, I will also mention how soft the grass swishes under my feet,
the way the wind moves feathery green shrubbery in a soft jostle,
that bird calling out to the half moon,
and stopping to prop my feet up on the chair in front of me.

I will avoid all mention of the list of bandaids I have been applying to this battered beater in my chest (steady, soldier).
There are still raspberries on the counter.
And poetry left to pour.

Yes, I am going to write something for me.
Just me.