Upon review, I determined this was shit. I deleted it so I wouldn't be a fucking hypocrite. 😉
We interrupted your regularly scheduled
program, to wish you – if you celebrate it –
a Merry Christmas.
If you don’t,
then I’ll wish you
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.
I have a photo of a place I love, took it before I even knew you existed; a pathway drenched in the golden, afternoon light which lead to a small cluster of fragrant orange trees. We stood at that very spot once, many years later and took a photo together. It's long gone but I remember it; you arms were wrapped around my hips Holding me delicately, as if I were a treasure. I was turned slightly, curled in the warmth of your shoulder, eyes closed as you kissed the side of my head, on the temple, so sweetly. Every time I look at that photo, I imagine us there - ghosts of love that never blossomed, but had always stayed sweet - and I smile at what could've been.
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.
Your long, thin finger crept like a spider up my inner thigh. "Stop," I hissed through my teeth; a warning. "No one's looking, no one cares." and you continued your journey up the pale length of my skin. The pads of your fingertips reached their intended destination and I sighed with the delicious feel of them, as I gazed, heavy lidded, at the sea, head tilted back, as if I were swallowing the sun.
We lie on the rocky seashore, the night sky spread wide like an eager lover. We were talking but I was distracted, our fingers were nearly touching and I was electrified. Then you slid out of your clothes; I was determined not to look at the narrow beauty of you. But I was compelled to join you in the water; a cool kiss on my skin in the thick humidity. You slipped beneath the still, dark surface seizing my wrist gently to take me further out to sea. (and, God, I was willing) Then you reappeared, you hair plastered to your face, and for a wild moment I wondered if that's what Jesus looked like. And as I tried to figure this out, I became aware that you were slowly coming closer, and closer. We watched each other like two battle weary cats, projecting our intentions so there could be no mistake. Then you were hovering above me, and I swallowed with difficulty, licking my lips to prepare for the inevitable. It began gently, as if testing the waters but, fire began roiling through my veins and I just... let go. It was as if the sky caught fire and I could still see the fierce blaze through my tightly shut eye lids.
I wanted to paint a picture of your eyes, see. One that captured all the deep blue and the light blue fibers of your iris. I wanted to paint your pupil huge, you know, like a quarter, or a moon, or a god-damn Buick. Swollen, like when you would whisper you loved me and I thought I could tell you weren't lying. Engorged, so large I could see myself in them and I was a different person, content with the mundane. Those pupils would swallow me, devour me whole; flesh, bones. Everything. And then you blinked.