All There Is

When my heart cracks open, and the only people I want to hold onto, to speak to, would destroy me with one careless word,

I have nothing left. The pain burns it all away, like flesh held over a candle.

I’m the one holding my hand there, watching the tiny flames lick my palm, begging for their attention, trying to restrain myself from throwing my body towards the heat.

It would desolate me to be inside the fire, yet it feels essential to my survival (and all I’ve ever wanted is to survive). It would be easier if

these people were no longer

on the planet. Easier, if, I never had to see them again, then I could survive and it would feel like survival, not like walking through a toxic blaze. When

I am oozing out, burned to ash by my own doing, there is nothing left. Nothing but

the smiles of my students, their affectionate greetings, their “Have a good day, Ms. Bush” as they leave my classroom. Nothing but

friends who answer the phone at midnight to hold me with their words as I writhe in pain, friends who always answer my messages, who never make me feel like the problem (the way the people I feel that I need do), who gather around the table with me once a week to laugh, drink, and eat. Nothing is left but

my gorgeous eyes, swollen and bright, staring back at me, reminding me that I’ve made it through much worse, that the best

is yet to come; that the people I feel enslaved to are wax, and the flame is meant for them, not for my flesh. It will eat away the residue of their impact on my psyche, until I feel as free as I actually am, always have been. There is nothing left but

gratitude. All that lasts is “thank you.” There is gratitude that the suffering ends, that the story never ends in ash, though the flames are relentless. For every time that the pain sounds, joy screams louder. I am here, and from the ash I always rise. I am grateful that the pain cannot destroy

me, that the hatred does not overcome me, that I am, and always will be, free, free as the sparks that fly up from the fire and evaporate into the smoky stratosphere.

Who knows, if she never showed up, what could’ve been
There goes the most shameless woman this town has ever seen
She had a marvelous time ruining everything.
~ T. Swift

Labyrinth Within

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A thread

for the first time

in a long

time. An entrance

Into the verdant interior laid out

as a labyrinth. A thread is

for following fist over fist while

footprints form in the soil.

The verdure closes behind

the imprint of each. Apprehensive

breaths catch in the throat of she

for whom

ignoring the thread

was never an option.

 

 

Untitled Poem

 

Sometimes a woman must go

with herself

to a place

where she can be alive to the dark, unfriendly, & inhospitable

emotions that stir

beneath the white lie

of her smile.

 

She does this because her emotions put

her mind back into her body, where

she can breath,

create,

slither out of the snares

she walks into: naked doe dissected

day after day.

 

Every month she bleeds but it isn’t the blood that

costs her  

dignity.

It isn’t the blood that threatens her, nor is it the emotions.

The threat is the short list of predators:

ego, fear, and

denial of herself as the doe, of life

in this barren land

as the scalpel.

 

Sometimes a woman must go

with herself

to a place

where she can smile

in the dark.