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.

long arms

When I remember
              slips
and pauses, down
often.

What, love?
Ghosts?

Palms to face, hold
the baby bird  |  my heart
one old           one new my
father’s smile and
the waves   |    laughter
I hold pure and threatening.
A heart is full, 
dark cry knifed in
the throat crawling,

the bark of trees
I cannot stop putting 
a palm upon, there 

a suspicion of beauty 
is kept. A person can 
become     inevitable-
fresh snow, long arms 
I hold them around the powder cold.

too wild to be a daisy

Daisies hold no memory, but there
above the creek alligators and otter
lay still in the Florida heat

on my stomach chaining weeds
like those in meadows far away
but small and fragile

in warm lungs was a god, in
paper, melodies and beats
a concrete sun, the

memory of heat/ I made a crown
call it confidence strung stem within split
stem, and soft petals holding on, un-

rooted quiet.  My quiet heart
sitting where no one would go
on the sign for a school twenty

deep mobile homes stacked in
repetition that dulls the senses.

But these children take
the long way home, empty
parks to play cops and robbers

or some hide in the safety
between rows at the library
absorbing what it means to

thrive and become like heroes

              or villains.

I see a wild kitten in the leaves
outside my window/ she leaps
and chases something she knows

to chase, and my cache of flowers
too wild and delicate to be
real daises- I chain a

crown, unroot the silence
without a sound but the song
becoming between breath

and thought.

daydreamer

Riding a manta ray
through mangroves, small
hands small feet like
a squirrel suddenly grounded

is ready/ I have

curls from my grandmother
that cannot be kept when I am
hot and salty between waves-

a girl I remember from before
taken by a fish of peculiar shape
(I lived by the sea then) and how

I fled and how I bent hand-over-hand
around every curve by habit.

It is in my roots to see a hole and place
mouth over space and hold until
it is filled; a starving a needing

an ancestral grieving in my heart
where if there is a falling there is a

turn: my father told me
philosophy and religion
can be the same in men

it starts in a daydream/
I know in our hearts are
our own heroes.

at night I hear the bells

The Halifax river burns sometimes, a brackish lagoon where dolphins pass through, I have thought they were angels when young. the bell

rings      to lift the bridge over
there/my grandfather bracketed by the red blinking lights and
crickets in his open palm but quieter. just a certain haunting in us in

my mother’s crossed legs and crossed arms when she does not see i watch. I feel the rope, I

feel the ropes of a hammock and will just stay there,
and they are real and hurt a little. watch grasshoppers and think of chasing them though the grass itches, think of chasing grasshoppers earlier that day through the itchy grass to feel their little feet tap on my palm like a song. to feel a happiness/

I think of geppeto, because that’s just the way of it. I think of arms and legs on strings though I am running. at night

the sound of the bell, my mother’s gray eyes as the waters still at night. the stars are all blind but shrewd as an owl who lives in the elm with his sad questions, I see

her tender heart she has delicately fed, like a rose we once knew, who a prince loved like no other who a daughter tried to make well.  and,
like a glass dome upon the thorny spine I stay even now when she has gone.