Love Stories and Make-believe
2000 miles apart,
we pretend ourselves together,
in a world of role-play, castles and magic
Two writers create characters and nudge them
onto a cyber stage, weaving together
a love story
that neither of us owns
You sit in a room I will never see
on a road I will never pass by on my way somewhere,
and the man you are becoming brushes against the girl
I used to be.
Your fingers move with a heat
hotter than any lover whose touched my skin
to lift the chin of this girl I offer,
to stare into her eyes and
kiss her mouth with such tenderness that
I ache as I read it,
eyes fixed on the flat glow of my computer
for your words that surface like
strange fortunes from those magic eight balls
of all sorts
is suspended in me.
I am breathless
because here in this moment it is as if
an empty heaven
suddenly answers back and
I can almost hear the clack of the keys as
you type and click ‘send’
across vast and immeasurable distances,
across time and impropriety,
truth and fiction
You weave your Hayden with my Hannah,
passing the shimmering sentences over and under.
Their hands reach, their skin slips together
into a tapestry of gazes, kisses, whispers, forgiveness
until all loneliness collapses, wars are over,
the world is reborn, death is conquered,
hope is revived.
And I am made new
as I push back my chair and
go to the kitchen to
stir spaghetti into boiling water.
My son races his hotwheels on the floor at my feet
and I fold the story neatly into my heart
where it dreams my dreams
and sits near a window
Whiskey, Flight and Lost Girls
She won't remember this
moonlight ceremoniously pouring over the stilled road,
touching night-sharp corners of buildings, bleeding
through the silence of birds breathing deep
within the branches of eucalyptus, mesquites and oleanders
until it finds her
on her knees, hands pressed
to the summer-warmed blacktop of a dozing Texaco station.
Her body arching like a frightened cat,
and arches again as she coughs the last whiskey past.
She feels invisible and weighted as she rises,
bared legs offering her up to a darkened road heading West
where her tiny house crouches against flattened mountains.
She knows the way home, even with her eyes closed tight
so they don't float out of her,
so they don't drift and bobble on a current of air
and pop like the fragile skin on bubbles.
Behind her lids they become stones sinking
to the bottom of her and she fears
they will turn her inside out.
She squints and they swim the dry bed
of the Santa Cruz where a couple rubs into one
shadow licking light from the stars
to illuminate shifts in curve and angle.
There is a moisture between them that dances
a hot memory across her dry skin:
A sour taste of kiss and salt and
a long sigh rising and wilting as they are swallowed
into the deep of rock and shadow.
She is suddenly aware of a black cold blossoming
like ink on silk.
Cornered at a table - a man -
red-eyed, wild-haired, young and hard, buying her
drinks, bumping his chair legs into hers,
her breath pulsing like a rabbit's heart on his cheek,
a rattling beneath his clothes and somewhere
a safecracker stretched his fingers and flexed
a winning hand.
No regrets, she thinks. No real damage done.
Not like a forest burning animals where they sleep, lying
flat beneath him in the backseat, vinyl sucking her skin,
his boots against the door, pants pulled down like a popsicle wrapper.
She is thinking of empty beds, folded back, stripped, straightened.
She is thinking of stopping.
But her eyelids are pulling down
a small and startled girl, jumping
from high places- tables, fences, rooftops.
It is her father's back she sees from these heights
and she is calling, "Watch me!" But he barely glances
to see her crash through the air without pawing.
Behind your eyes they stir,
brown waking rage
my white skin
that your hands reach to caress
another lost battle
are the great warriors
the holy man
the good women
you spring from
like a fresh wound
They pull their hair
when you seal them off
with a kiss
to my lips.
An empire collapses
My ghosts must be sleeping,
content, growing fat.
I can’t hear them
their seething disapproval,
hands reaching to shove me
down the straight white path.
To their cause
I am a traitor.
I drive too fast
down snakey roads
that lead into the belly
of the mountains,
your hand on my thigh,
stars prying a glance.
for a place to stop,
to press together into one shadow,
mixing those old ghosts
into something unrecognizable.
Returned a Mother
From a long night I have returned a mother.
My son cries his announcement and
we consider one another with curious eyes.
I touch his tight-curled fingers,
kiss the spiral of fine delicate hairs on his forehead
that looks like a universe unfolding.
As I doze with him in the crook of my arm nearest my heart,
nurses cluck their tongues and say
“You should put him in the bassinet.”
I ignore them. It has been a difficult journey and
we need each other.
Behind my lids I see her,
that girl I was
on the cellar floor,
head bleeding for so many, many years,
near the roar of the green furnace that rattled her bones,
I still feel the warm urine spreading in alarm beneath her.
She’ll be in trouble for that.
But it’s okay, I ‘m coming for her now.
I have returned a mother and though
she doesn’t call or cry out.
I hear her.
She waits, rooted in that damp spot,
eyes fixed on a sharp sliver of light
from the door at the top of the stairs.
for what comes next.
But it won’t be him this time,
barking “Get up here!”through clenched teeth.
He was never able to stop
I am tired but I do not sleep,
this girl has swallowed her voice
but I hear her
and I am going back for her.
Down that spirit road where time does not exist,
I have wings
that tear me through the doors of that green, shingled house
past the averted eyes of my mother, clenched
fists of my father, down
those worn wooden steps where
I see her
and she sees me
and I reach for her
and she reaches back
We will never be separated now.
She is the bravest part of me.
I smooth her hair, kiss her forehead
and we move past them
out into the gentle air and the sounds of the trees cheering.
The sky was blue
for her, too.