sun

My life happens in poems. I have measured out my most cherished memories in single images scribbled in my diary, and chronicled them in Word documents arranged by year. A habit of mine is to take the time to reflect through poetry whenever anything momentous, strange, interesting, upsetting, wonderful, or life-changing occurs. Many of these moments are what I refer to as “small rebirths”.

A small rebirth, to me, is any event that marks a turning point in my life, or a significant change in myself. After each of these events, I often feel like a slightly different person, like I have learned something new about myself and am beginning a new phase of my life.

As I look through my old journals and flashlights from this past year, I find myself immensely grateful that I took the time to reflect on and catalogue these precious transitional moments. Here are some of the poems that came out of these important new beginnings of 2015.

 

first sunrise of the year

three bodies slouch across the bare mattress,
one on the floor, spine perpendicular
to the row of bare feet.
a haze of stomach acid, morning breath
hangs in winter air, that defunct
space heater in the closet wasn’t of much use.
they made their own warmth.
bodies shift, grimy unwashed faces turn
to face the window by the closet.
for so long, everything was a deep
and foreboding blue. who didn’t want
to sleep through those days?
in the apricot glow of the rising sun,
there is a dull hurt in the pits of their stomachs,
something to do with the cracking of joints and hoarse
laughter that shakes the sleep in their throats
as they pick tangles from their hair and rinse pungent
sugary remnants of drinks out of the mugs by the bed.
things always feel softer the morning after, like overripe fruit.
there’s a lot that needs to be checked on. there’s
a lot that you forget about. things go wrong.
there’s a sadness that comes with the thought
of groping through the dark, alone.
there’s a sadness that comes with the thought
of doing anything alone.
everybody gets home eventually.

heaven is the shoulder of a highway

this, to me, is magic:
cigarette butts curled up like soggy
fat caterpillars in the bottom of the first
of two cups:
one, heavy painted mug with
chips exposing terra cotta flesh
another, teacup light as a petal–
handle a fractured arch that once
crumbled upon itself, an ancient
structure from an antique store that shut down
a week and a half later.

this, to me, is magic:
two girls in the summer time:
one, tanned
the other, burned
peeling layers of gravel, leaf, soil
back and tucking bottle caps and green tinged
shards of glass into pockets already heavy
with peach and avocado pits,
pinkie promises and crossed hearts,
hands separate to walk around a mailbox,
you say peanut butter from the curb,
I say jelly from the sidewalk.

this, to me, is – without a doubt – magic:
the garden is frozen over now, but
still there are birds who linger,
who haven’t forgotten.
my bus driver’s face slick and hair damp with
American sweat, red hot heater
droning from the very back,
she has a black eye and tells me good morning,
she hasn’t forgotten.
mutilated raccoon on the side of  the road,
don’t look kids, but they look and they
gasp and the smallest of the two
weeps for the furry lump among black rubber shreds
and hasn’t forgotten since that:
one, there will always be a road and the shoulder
will always be littered with carcasses
two, the sun will warm the cold, stiff entrails
and beetles the color of an oil slick will
give birth to fat white babies
in the heavy fur.

lanterns

it was a child’s body they scraped off the road.
there’s a group of people who release lanterns from
the hill above the intersection. I can’t stop thinking about where
all that paper will end up,
or if the flames will still burn no matter how high
they make it. I’m scared of fire, so it’s all I can think about.
there’s bigger flames elsewhere,
and I realize that.
it takes a lot of energy to mourn everything and everyone
worth mourning, including small animals getting caught in the gears
of the greater machine. it’s easier to occupy oneself with paper
and fire.

how to slow down time

I don’t feel like I’ve lost a limb anymore, or like
every day I’m turning down an old friend
who wants to meet
up for coffee.
now, it’s more like I’m a wife
waiting for her lover to call. she knows it won’t be today,
but she will hear his voice again.
there are a million words floating around
in the stratosphere about love and its definition. love is a reaction,
gears clicking together in a soft machine.
love can be bought
in bathroom stalls and doctors’ offices and in exchange for other
methods of slowing down time. everybody is waiting
for something. I was stretching the hours
I
spent waiting for happiness.
that’s a reaction, too.
it came in pastel pinks and oranges and other soft colors
I could write forever about all the
different colors.
I’ve been waiting for so long, telling myself, not today
every day. nights melt like butter in a fevered palm.
there are things I will never be able
to hold on to.
there are things that collect in the extremities
of your nervous system and stay there forever,
just below the skin. even when you die,
they’re still there in the same way
your hair keeps growing and one day,
the ground beneath the earth’s crust
will be made entirely
of hair and chemicals and bone dust.
there are people who say they’ve been in love twice,
or even more.
there are people who can dip their feet in two
separate ponds and they would never know the difference.
I’m one of those people who is painfully
aware of the textures of pond scum.