The Long Circle Around the Sun

The Earth has created a long circle
around the Sun since we last touched
and yet I still can’t meet your eyes
when they hold so little guilt.

I didn’t mean to hurt you

If you say that, are you absolved
of all blame? Your summer came early
and left me cold in June. I shivered
from these burns that still ache in the sun.

Warmth will return
as I tip slowly on my axis to face
a new direction, and it will not be you
that thaws this ice.

love gone sour

when i wanted to know everything you’d ever wished for
my heart was thick with hope
and desire visited me as i slept; she sent me
dreams of your legs churning on the dike
kicking up gravel in your wake

now i turn if i see you on the street, pretend
to become very interested
in the hollyhocks as i ready myself to return
to the ocean with fresh wounds, i am silent
because sharks smell blood
and i am hurt

it is almost worse
that you greet me so cheerfully, your smile
burrowing deep into my chest and nestling there

when i wanted to know everything you’d ever feared
my mouth numb with fondness for you
everyone could see it when they peered into my face
and commented on the warm glow of my skin, the deep
healthy shine of my cheeks

now i turn if i catch my reflection in the mirror, for
bitterness is still clenched in my teeth
and love has gone sour in my mouth
yet i cannot stop chewing it over and over
hoping the sweetness will return

Under New Ownership

People see my body and stare.
Then look away,
look away,
look away.
Don’t look.

Drawn towards me. They want to envelop me,
cover me, save me, protect me.
Shelter me like a roof. Catch the raindrops
from hitting my face.

My face is open to pain.
My face is a book of betrayal.
My face was painted with dying hope.

I am in love with being loved.
Having love forced on me- making love-
of having it shoved in me, twisted and jabbed
and my voice smothered and stifled,
hands ensnared, throat crushed.
Am I in love with this?

Drawn towards me, they want to envelop me,
smother me, wreck me, infect me.
Scatter me like ashes, spread me thin in a windstorm
so my body will never be connected
or whole
again.

They tell me I am in love with being broken.
They stare, and they know my body is theirs.
It has never been mine.
There are cracks where past lovers shine through.
We will do that for you
so they tell me.

5 more minutes

Partway thru and
I begin to grit my teeth into the pain
I can take 5 more minutes
3 more
1 more

It’s not the same
He’s not the same
I don’t have to sacrifice myself
Or bite my tongue
He loves me
He will listen
And it hurts

All the way thru and
My fingers come back red
He looks pale
That’s a lot of blood
I feel grim and all-knowing
You’ve never had a period

He keeps asking
Are you okay
I keep replying yes
Getting ready to walk home
It is too much to explain

This blood is nothing
That is okay
What is not is my soul
Which now bleeds for the past
Which will be sore tomorrow
And bitter, and vengeful
Holding grudges against
The motions of a long-ago person
I feel in your body

With You

With you I am silent- I curl into the S of your body
and linger over the pounding rhythm beneath your skin.

With you I am hesitant- drifting like a balloon released
from a child’s grip, aloof and straying too far away.

With you I am magical- my incantations will drip and slide
across the bedsheets to widen your eyes.

With you I am bitter- incessantly licking my wounds,
dredging up venomous words that I wanted forgotten.

With you I am timid- slowly swallowing my inadequacies,
tucking each fault under my coat to study later, alone.

With you I am famished- tearing at your silky hair
with desperate shaking hungry hands.

With you I am safe- layered in our whispers of faith,
awash in your breath like soft salty waves.

Ache

I don’t feel like there is something beautiful
inside me trying to get out.
It’s not as if there’s a monarch
lodged in my throat, or a line of rubies set
beneath my breastbone.

It’s more like I have an ache, deep,
near my spinal cord, or maybe my kidneys,
and I have to stretch and twist and rub at it
like an old man does his arthritic knuckles.

Aspirin is useless for that type of pain,
the kind that sometimes wakes you right before dawn
or stabs you square in the gut
when you’re chatting on the sidewalk with friends
and suddenly a person walks by with their head down,
tilted, a private smile on their face
and you fall in love for just a moment.

I write to that spot.
My poems address the ache, press into it a little
and release, let the flesh bounce back into place.
It helps, you know. It helps in the way
you tell a child to turn off his lamp
specifically because he’s afraid of the dark.

Just a Dream

I dreamt of you last night
and awoke today with the crashing
waves of anger turning me white-hot
Your words still spilling
from that deep charred place
Me bitter like black coffee,
rousing myself heavy from bed
jaw sore from grinding, gnashing

Unsure if I want to dissolve
or combust; slip back to sleep
or sprint to the moon

It’s just a dream, I have to breathe
I have to remember
and let go
and stop
hoping
you’ll
call

Trapped

I try to reach across the gear shift to grasp your hand
to show you it’s all going to be okay,
to tell you I love you, I care.
I want to hold you.

But I remain frozen and numb, my eyes glued to the train
clanging past in a blur. Fingers scratching circles
on the steering wheel with bitten fingernails.
My mouth stays shut.

I pretend I am a normal girl on this blue sunny day.
The words I should say run laps in my head.
Sadness is welling up in my stomach, for when you leave.
My eyes still won’t meet yours.

You open the door of the car as it’s still moving.

Later.

I watch your tousled hair and black jacket get smaller and smaller.
Soon the emotions will fill me up.

Later.