Time crawls during an episode, the days and nights extending before you; a vanishing horizon. You begin to take notice of little things; the exact rhythm of your heart, the way a water droplet holds light. But mostly I sit in the stillness of apathy, stagnate as everything around me grows and changes while I molder. It's happened enough times for me to know that it's all a matter of time before it passes. So I sit, and smoke, and drink black coffee and wait until the light returns.
"Look at me," he murmured. So I did, choosing his left eye over the right. Like I knew it would, the pupil dilated, blossoming under my steady gaze. There's never an option, I'm taken hostage by eyes and that's why I never look, see? Now I saw him, stripped bare before me, the scars raw on his flesh. Yet, he never blinked, never broke contact as I penetrated and saw it all. I admired his courage - I could never be that vulnerable - but also his stupidity. After all, he didn't know what kind of woman I might be or what I could do with his scars. Then again... maybe he just wanted to be seen.
It was the jolt of recognition that unnerved me when our eyes met for the first time. The Universe held its breath and I didn't feel homeless anymore.
You held my hand as we drove through the desert, the parched night air like a ribbon that tangled in our hair. We stopped for a drink in what could've been a ghost town, had it not been for the neon lights wound around and strung between the lampposts. I got something to share with you, a drink, delighted at the thought of our lips sharing the same edge; it was almost as if we were kissing. When I returned to the car you were standing with three other girls - one who was barefoot, her toes blackened by the asphalt. I joined you, but hesitated because I understood that we were in that no man's land between something and absolutely nothing at all. But you somehow sensed my trepidation and slid a reassuring arm around my waist, pulling me close to you and kissing my lips with tenderness. It was in that moment I fell in love with you because I knew I was safe.
This is the poem that won the Anita McAndrews Poetry Award
There’s a funny story behind this poem:
It was written in January of 2017 – 1 month after I returned from Palestine the first time. It is the product of a class assignment: I had to write a Psalm using non-traditional language and non-traditional versing. I was PISSED that I had to write this (if any of you know me, there’s two parts of the Bible I cannot stand – Psalms and anything Paul wrote). I put it off for a week, grumbling and bitching about having to do it. I was, additionally, experiencing a major depressive episode at the time and just didn’t have the energy to do it. So the night before it was due, I sat down and wrote this.
Funny how life works out, huh?
You can read it here or below:
You called me to the ends of the Earth,
the place where your breath sighs,
so that I might suffer to find
I met you at every step, the ochre
Judean sands gritting between my
toes as I tried to match you;
heel to toe.
Your spirit whipping my hair, as
I traced the desolate crescendos
of the South Hebron Hills in the dying
I have known the fragile weight of you,
destroyed, in my open arms as despair
swallowed me on the rocky shores of
Heard your voice transform from singing
in a sumptuous Arabi to the shrill scream
of terror as I stood, useless, on the rooftops:
I have seen your face in its forms of hurt
and healing; bruised purple, smeared with
blood, swollen; the gift of a crazed soldier
Smelled the acrid stench of burning wire,
choking me, stinging my eyes as I trudged
knee deep in filth to bring your children
You have called to where my heart throbs
thrice: Fal-a-steen -and I can’t ever hope
to rid myself of the land, the people, or
You invite me, now, to receive you in
the fruit of the vine, to fill myself
with your sacrifice so that I might match you
heel to toe.
We snuck into the church's gift shop in hopes of escaping the oppressive summer heat. They had an air conditioner, which felt delicious on our sweaty skin and sunburnt shoulder blades. Trying to look inconspicuous, we pretended to shop, so the clerk wouldn't catch on and throw us out. You were looking at something intently and when I came to see, you extended your hand to me. In the bowl of your palm was a perfectly carved, polished olivewood heart. I turned my palm skyward to see if you would offer it; you dropped it into my waiting hand without hesitation.
I lift my face skyward so the rain can wash over me, kissing my brow, soothing the delicate flesh beneath my eyes, caressing my weary mouth. And for a moment, as fleeting as a heartbeat I feel perfect in my brokenness.
Soft covered notebooks
are the best for
writing poetry in.
They bend under the
weight of your words,
like hands folded in prayer.
I asked Jesus to take the pain away but he said he could only heal corruption. Love, no matter how much it hurts isn't corruption. So, I guess I gotta wait this shit out.
He smelled like home to a girl who never felt that way about anywhere. The deep green of the forest; sunlit leaves, crushed pine needles, and damp, rotting logs. The warm, fresh earth after it rains; buried seeds, their tender shoots, and mossy crevices between stones. And the slight spice of musk; a loamy buck, the creeping fox and the parched air of owl's wings.