in caves

Sunflowers
grow | beneath
cliffs, a din heard
in the mouth
small sound
of

roots deep,
stems bracing 
waves that crash
high like a hand
held to the face
with eyes closed
pauses all
of it

here,
some will arrive
by wandering
but it is dark
and so much 
unknown 
to wander
freely or 
consider 
to stay.

We see only
their crowns
as they breach
the unseen,
their beginning
is close, just
a step
into a place
the sun holds
without ever saying,
hello/

we could know them:
their bright faces
petals a happy 
yellow and lovely,
framed in what some
would say is joy 
but they are shaking 
their heads slowly 
no, yet again
with each rising
and setting, 

they follow from
the place they
would leave
if only these
deep roots
inch by inch
would pull
free
-

Did you know 
stems grow in
the night to
the west so
the head can 
sway to the east
at sunrise. The
stem guides

like stars in the
night, desert sky
are persistent
or pollen on
a honeybee
is small 
easy to miss
but irrefutable/

they,
are guided far 
round cold corners
wide, clementine
eye, happy and 
content/ how
the heart
keeps the mind 
stays the heart
to keep on

and the sound 
in this hidden place,
brushing upon
damp walls: the
wind at the end 
of its journey
over wave
and accidentally
in this hollow
 
is song like 
woman who
whispers, do not
let me break,
please but
same way,
rounds corners
and rejoins
the sky-

wandering
you may slide  
cliffside into 
deep ocean,
not seeing
it is a cliff
where waves
will slam 
the mark of
this place,

and will swim
near a place
dry but dark
and cold
when no one
is around
to see you.

Wild sunflower
grow, long 
stemmed
and 
leave, I  
would say
this old cave- 
eventually.
Eye following
the sun even
as it sets with
you, no madness
or sad keeping
of memory but
growing round 
cold walls into
the quiet beauty
one day, of 
knowing nothing
 
of the previously known.


preservation

In that former innocence
a second sun bloomed
in my heart, and I
tucked dreams
and hopes

within my small fist
a moth within-
I held it
tense,
in careful regard.

Sometimes
I would tear, slightly
a ghostly wing
having
no space
in a hand to
move:

I shook or would
startle.

And so I began
when it was night
and I could hear the
urgency silenced
day-to-day

to still squirrel away
each fold of brain, the
tender stomach
delicate bones of a toe/
all beneath my pillow
where I would remember
whenever
I could rest

and today, there
I hold my hand
in sleep, reaching
feeling
something
alive

in my hands.

paper crane prayer

Blooming in dark alleys
these bullets called innocence:
children who discover the world
sting my eyes

these bullets called innocence
pepper on the page
sting my eyes
and they are wet

like my father’s 
when reading, The Little Prince
and they are wet
between the pages

when reading, The Little Prince
and I am riddled with responsibility
between the pages 
a crumpled paper crane, a bookmark 

and I am riddled with responsibility
leaning between pages now a pause
a crumpled paper crane, a bookmark
this tired from saving the world

leaning between pages now a pause
thinking what kind of story is as good as:
this tired from saving the world
and knowing/ the beauty of night jasmine

thinking what kind of story is as good as:
children who discover the world
not knowing the beauty is them,
blooming in dark alleys.

athena

I will build a bridge 
when it is dark
and you cannot see

the mark of your survival

to remind you- take
the birds broken
at your feet where
they rest and sing
to them, humming

in small beaks a song
if you think
they no longer
can hear.

Remember the trophies
we shattered in the dumpster
that night they came in the
mail? – my sadness,

I will hold a fist
to you and pound
until the dirt lifts.

On the night they died and
took truths from which
you were sculpted- I

scaffold the mind in memory
balance upon broken strands
of silk like a spider, and

find the center/

let us read a tale
I saw between the stars
scripting us- it was

just as true
as this tragedy

and build a bridge
of broken trophies and
birds’ wings between

one story and the next.

a moment, still

Seven years ago
I lived in the mist and
rain of the Olympic 

Peninsula to walk where
wild things walked and lay
upon the moss though a
spider sunk into my soft

stomach. It only hurt
momentarily, and 
regardless, it is  
never safe to 
be where it seems 
safest, where

lightning
would never touch,
waves, could never crash 
in the long
dark of winter-
never the crackling cold
the moment-stilled
heart though

days pass.

Truth is my hair
has been standing on end
since I was born 
from the shock 
but 
I comb it smooth 
and lay across 
another’s shoulder 
like a cloak

and walking again into the quiet
of the Cascades or the Hoh

maybe 
I will find a big, 
black bear and not 
be reminded how
any moment 
the sky may fall 

like hers did 
unexpected
and violent, 
maybe 
she was afraid,
I keep wondering.

I, am sharp flint
of ebon eye facing bear, am
rock of trembling, St. Helens/
could blow could sleep 
instead, for awhile peaceful 
as flowers grow bright 
upon the back. I

think of my tree that is
only memory now,
how Magdalena
strong and twisted

could lean into the cold
and wild storms, how
memory is
the willowy heart/
a captured 
softness to put 
in a box with her 
gray eyes and
my father’s
calloused hands.

magdalena

I ran away 
to North Carolina 
after my father died, 

rented an apartment and 
wore these black boots, 
dyed my pretty pink hair
back to brown, and
got a job at a pet store
during the recession.

I was enchanted by the fireplace
that would warm me and my guy
in the bare-limbed winters and 
it was by a battleground we
walked with our dog
forested with trees 
and unmarked graves.

I would leave often on my own
The Violent Femmes playing 
on my headphones
something about 
wanting to be sedated, 

and I found this massive, 
gnarled tree
apart from the rest, 
twisted 
and strong,

I named her, Magdalena.
 
Many days 
I’d go walking on my own 
to sit against the rough bark 
resting a palm or my cheek
and music in my ears
to look like I wasn’t just
sitting with an old tree/
always I would say, 
goodbye.

<As a child, I once licked 
the sap of a pine
and my tongue went numb/ 
I did it because I wondered 
if it tasted like maple syrup>

but more to the point
I would chase the falling leaves
from shaky stems too weak
up above I could not see 
but I would try to catch them
sometimes jumping 
so I wouldn’t miss, 
to hold the barely-there weight 

like a baby bird how
it was silent 
the fall    how it 
was innocent.

I started to do it again
once in awhile
awkwardly and maybe
a bit defiant/ I 
put them in a box 
with a picture of me 
near the Natural Bridge
in Virginia
I had given my dad, 
my pink hair 
peaking beneath
an old beanie, 
the snowy world
looking like a ghost 
beside me.

habitant

The people we play
the ones remembered

from memory or some story
a ghost beneath the nail we
scratch at hunting fathers'

tender and mothers' dreams
splintered beneath unkindness/

it's the mantle of yesterday
of what is loved and not
yet owned or even known.

Still we choose to be brave
to live a life kinder, flowers are
on the table because we thought

to walk to a garden, coffee brews
on a Saturday morning, little feet
already rushing beneath the sun.
My heart, does

a war rage outside the window?
Are the people who wage it
good? When I blow upon

the palm, even in this
dim light dust looks a little
like stars, and I decide

there the universe is
in my own hand,

and the children receive
this debt, a path lit
by this child we stay,
a joy that is owed.