I miss you - that's all I wanted to say, the only message I want to send out on the ether. I hope it reaches you, on your little farm atop the hill.
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.
"There's showers here," I didn't think much of this information until I watched you walk toward the building - each step lingering - hope in every footprint. You stopped one last time, at the doors of your destination and I could feel the glee of your mischievous grin from across the field. I found you there, stripped bare and radiant in your beauty, waiting for me...
You were asleep, laying face down on top of the tangled bed clothes. A Harvest moon hung low in the sky, peeking through the window shades and stretching its golden fingers of light up the length of your glorious, nude body. The moment hung in the salty, humid air, like a promise of what was yet to come.
"I love you," you called to my retreating back. I wondered if it was exquisite cruelty, or reassurance. Maybe it was a measure of relief for you, Since now, you never have to see me again. Either way, it was a javelin to my (already fragile) heart.
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.
All poets experience it, that one mother fucker you can't stop writing about. Try as you might to fight it, that witch got under your skin, jacked themselves into your veins and became a god damned firestorm in your circulatory system. Here's to you, you little bastard. Thanks for all the material.
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.
I was gazing out of the window when I felt a soft touch on my shoulder, as gentle as a whisper. When I turned to look, I saw your head hovering over my skin. The tenderness of that kiss shocked me profoundly, as if you had touched some secret part of my being. I blushed deeply at the obscenity of it.
Close was never close enough. Even if I could hear you in my head, visit you in my dreams, feel you buried deep inside me. It was never enough. Maybe if I could have peeled back the fragile layers of your skin, cracked open your ribs and found some comfortable place between your lungs and spleen to burrow into, I would've been satisfied.