they pay to kiss your feet

since there's no one else around, we let our hair grow long and forget all we used to know. then our skin gets thicker from living out in the snow.

Sunday, March 25, 2012

a story. part 13.

she'd spent her entire life being patient. she never said something she didn't mean. and even though she knew it was unrealistic and small-minded, she expected the same of people. but people aren't always kind and she knew a lot of loose tongues. so, for years, she patiently forgave people who were not like her.

but he was just like her. and the waltz they danced through life had been incredible. if she was having a terrible time with a painting, it didn't matter because they had each other. if one of them was anxious about the future, the other one would say something inspiring and calming and true. if they walked in the park, they didn't talk about the park. they talked about real, deep things. if a storm ruined their plans for a picnic, they made love all afternoon instead.

and at the end of the day, when they realized the bread had gone stale and the meat should be thrown away, they just sighed and held hands.

sometimes, he would tell her stories and in the middle of a sentence about something he'd done 15 years earlier, she'd think to herself, "i know this is the first time i've heard this story, but wasn't i there?"

everything about him felt familiar.

and when she explained that to him, she began with the fact that as soon as she could comprehend what sort of person she was, around the age of 6, she knew there had to be someone else like her out there.

and then she'd tell him that after awhile, the ache to find her person had gotten so strong that she'd taken to pulling her car over to scream.

and he'd say, "i hate that. i hate that you had to feel that."

when she did find him, she wasn't looking. and because she never wanted to scream in her car again, she told him she'd missed him since the day she was born.

that's what she was thinking about the day he stood in the doorway as she made dinner.
she wanted to cling to him tightly. but he needed to step into the kitchen.

Saturday, March 24, 2012

on the edge of weekend china.

lilacs remind me of my great grandmother
and the T on her backdoor -
the one we would slam
startling her as she stood at the counter
fixing pot roast for sunday dinner.
boiling potatoes
cutting carrots
watching us play out the window
as the scent of her lilac bushes wafted
mixing with the savory of the pan gravy
and the mush of the overcooked
celery -
the one thing i always placed to the side
plowing it with my fork
pushing it to the middle
swirling it through the drippings
and then landing it
on the edge
of weekend china.
there were always too many elbows
at the table
so i'd eat what i could -
chewing beneath
grabbing more soda bread
to sop
the juice
leaving tracks
until i was released
from the table
and to the yard
where i could
put some lilacs
in my pockets

Thursday, March 22, 2012

a story. part 12.

after about a week, he started to talk to her again slowly. at first, he stood silently across the kitchen while she chopped garlic and basil and crusty bread - just so she would know he was there. and every five chops or so, she'd look up from her knife and lock eyes with his. but she'd never been very good at staring contests. so, she'd get back to the task at hand and he'd keep watching her. memorizing the way her face scrunched up when she couldn't get the slices just the way she wanted them. imagining his arms around her waist and his body pressed tightly into hers.

when they'd first met, he'd asked her if she thought she could be still long enough for him to memorize her face. and she had replied, "yes, i think so."
one night, he made her prove it to him. they sat in a room and he held her face with his hands and instructed her to close her eyes.
she did and he went to work memorizing every detail.
every freckle.
the way her eyes moved beneath the lids.
the curl in her hair.
the shape of her mouth.

when she tried to open her eyes and move, he said, "shhhh. be still. you can do it."
and so she did it.
she'd never been more still in her life.
even her heart was still that night in that place. it was a calm that she kept going back to. in between chops and slices and dices and locking eyes with him across the room, she kept remembering being still. and how honest and right it felt to let him look at her like that.

Sunday, March 18, 2012

a story. part 11.

the next morning, she found him in the kitchen with his head in his hand. he smelled like coffee and tirelessness. her heart ached at the thought of him staying up all night to try to figure out a way to escape.
she said, "good morning." she always said hello in the morning. but he didn't respond.
he just sunk deeper inside his cave of a head.

she went out for some air and a walk. it was a sunny day and she needed to soak something up. she listened to all of her favorite songs as she went along. she noticed a tree, a bird, an earthworm. she took deep breaths to calm herself. she said, "everything is going to be okay" out loud. because she needed to hear it even if she had to say it to herself.

she started to try to imagine what it would be like to be alone. after all, she felt alone already. he no longer asked her how she was. he didn't want to know where she was going. "maybe i just need to be alone," she wondered while looking at a sparrow.

"maybe i will paint you, sparrow. and you will be my symbol of freedom."

the sparrow flew away.

"no, that didn't feel right to me either," she said.

she wondered if it would make a difference if he knew she was dying. she wondered if she should tell him she wondered that.

Saturday, March 17, 2012

the tip.

there is a song
on the tip
my tongue.

there is a poem
on the tip
of my fingers.

there is a dream
on the tip
of my mind.

but i
don't know
how to find

i walk and notice
the flowers
and the green
buds -
(too early)
on trees.

i recline
on brick
and feel
the coolness
left over from
and the spring
that forgot
to stay.

i look
at the dog
in the yard that
already needs
be cut
and remember last year
when the grass
was still covered
snowy white.

i notice the air
that smells thick
like barbecue
and bonfires
and august.

but it's only march
and my
legs feel naked
in shorts.

Friday, March 16, 2012

a story: part 10.

on a thursday a few weeks later, he stood at the bedroom door.

she'd been anxious and afraid and overwhelmed. and he'd been living inside his head - creating elaborate escapes in his mind. he was unhappy in most facets of his life and it was alarming his heart.

when he approached her, she was curled in a ball in the bed. the covers were on the floor and she was sobbing. she hadn't slept in days. she didn't know how to feel when the person she loved the most didn't have the energy to love her back. she imagined the pain she felt to be similar to the way a tree feels when it loses its leaves too early in the season. naked. ashamed. but mostly, vulnerable. it was a raw feeling that grew more raw every minute he stayed inside himself.

he'd asked her to be patient. because he needed time to figure out what to do. he wished she hadn't accidentally painted shut the lock to his trunk. he wondered why she painted the sky blue instead of green. he asked her why she wasn't smiling lately.

she sat up, rubbed her eyes and said, "i don't know how to smile anymore."

and he said, "i'm sorry."

he took the covers off the floor and tucked them tightly around her so that from afar, she looked like a lump of mush in the middle of the mattress. he told her he loved her and walked out to attempt to pick his lock.

Wednesday, March 14, 2012

a story. part 9.

her pile of wet clothes was still damp and she was at her canvass painting when the door opened and he walked in - quietly. her heart felt better because he was close, but it sensed something was upside down.
he dropped his bag in the corner and went to to the balcony. he said he needed some air. that his flight had been long and his trip had been hard.
she said she understood and picked up her brush and the blue paint.

she was painting the sky. it was infinite and mighty and it was helping her remember to look up instead of down.
she wanted to tell him about standing in the rain. she needed him to hear about how drenched she got and how much she felt in that moment. but he had shut the door to their tiny balcony and any word she said would just bounce off the glass back at her.

she had never been good with silence.

her toes felt like they were sinking into the floor. but she kept painting, waiting for him to come inside. to put his arms around her and tell her he missed her while he was away. but after awhile, her waist got tired of waiting for him. and her heart got scared of what his might say to it. she didn't know what to do. so she put her paints away and just sat. she never just sat. it felt poisonous.

he stayed outside until night - until it was dark and cold and he had to come in because he hadn't put enough layers on for the sudden drop in temperature. even the tomato plants were reacting to the chill. nearly shriveling before their eyes. she hoped it wasn't an omen for what was to come. she didn't know if she could handle a cold spring.

in darkness.

a light shines.


Tuesday, March 13, 2012

a story: part 8.

two days passed and she wasn't feeling any better. her canvass was still blank and even though she was almost always hungry, she hadn't really been able to eat. she'd gone to bed early the night before feeling like her very soul was being squeezed. she imagined it was sort of like what a heart attack would feel like if it happened deep inside. she picked up her notebook, wrote the words "soul attack" and then put it back on the nightstand.

she propped herself against the headboard and sighed. it was a deep, long sigh that startled even her.

later, she woke up halfway through the darkness surprised that she'd been able to fall asleep at all. she remembered seeing him in her dream, closed her eyes, and went back to him.

when she awoke in the morning, it was raining.

she got out of bed and stood there in her stretchy pants and her faded grey t-shirt and at once knew she needed to feel the rain. so she went to the door and unlocked it. the smell of wet earth enveloped her intention to completely be immersed in something. in the rain. in its temporary permanence. in its cleansing comfort. in the way that it could drench her to the point of soggy skin all because she asked it to.

she took a step toward the torrent. and then, she took another and another until she was standing still in the grey rain. and in her mind, she wrote a poem about how different it felt to hear the rain from inside of it instead of inside of a house. it was something she never wanted to forget.

she went inside, dragging drippy puddles with her down the hall. and with a steady hand, she picked up her notebook and wrote the words, "you can't feel something real unless you feel it completely. hiding in a house or under an umbrella doesn't protect you from the rain. it just makes you scared of it for no reason."

her next painting would be about what the rain taught her. it would not be dark, but light.

Monday, March 12, 2012

a story. Part 7.

she tried to feel like herself while he was away. she bought a new canvass with the intention of filling it with something remarkable. she propped it up on his trunk and let her heart tell her brain what to paint. but all it felt was ache. and she didn't see much use in painting an entire canvass black. that type of thing was only original the first time it was done. and it had already been done. she'd seen it hanging in a museum one time when she was alone on a friday night trying to find some peace.

she left the canvass propped there for an entire day. for awhile she just sat on the couch and looked at its blankness. eventually, the entire room blurred to white and she thought about the spot on her neck that she wanted him to kiss and wondered if he was wearing his pink or red plaid. she missed the feeling of his cheek on days when he forgot to shave. she missed it because even after he left the room, she could still feel the burning on her skin.

she got up and cleared the dishes from their fancy lunch. she washed the crumbs down the sink, stared out the window and accidentally let the water run longer than it needed to. she was crying. it felt strange to miss someone so much. it's not like he had died, she told herself. but, still, she couldn't stop shaking.

Saturday, March 10, 2012

a story: part 6.

on a thursday in march, he had to leave. it was for a small trip, but it was a trip nonetheless. and trips had a way of creating distance. it wasn't so much about the fact that he would be 1,041 miles away. it was just that their bodies felt pain when they couldn't touch each other.

she had been going on with her day as if he wasn't putting four outfits and all of his shoes into a bag. she'd swept the floors twice and made them the most amazing sandwiches. to the tomatoes, she'd added things like figs and caramelized onions. she'd also decided it was a special enough occasion for her fancy dishes, so she pulled out two place settings and carefully arranged them next to fork and knife.

they really were good sandwiches. she always had a way of doing that. showing her love through the marriage of perfectly crusted bread and whatever lived between the slices. when he met her, he hadn't been much of an eater. but he was learning to slow down enough to love it as much as she did. it was one of the best things she could teach him. and so she taught - calling him over to the stove when the onions were just about perfect. saying things like, "look. this is the moment that becomes magic. watch them change. just watch."
and he would stand behind her with his arms around her waist, kiss her neck and watch.

and there, in the pan, the onions would transform from translucent chunks to opaque strands of perfection. she was always surprised by this. because she'd had a way of messing things up before.

she turned the burner off and just stood. and on that day, in that moment, she felt something more than his hands around her waist and his mouth over her ear. she felt beyond his whispers of, "oh, love. i'm going to miss you." it was the complicated feeling that she was home all jumbled up with knowing he was leaving.
she preferred to keep him close.

Thursday, March 08, 2012

a story. part 5.

it wasn't long before he tried to figure a way to work his chains into her paintings. escaping was losing its luster and, instead, all he really wanted to do was help make what she was making better. it became his reason. it was the fire inside him that got him out of bed on the days that she wasn't sharing his pillow while wearing his sweater. it pushed him to stay curious. because even though inventing a new way of seeing his old passion was hard, it was the kind of hard that held a promise to change his life.

at first, he would sneak up behind her and watch her make a blank canvass matter. then, he'd inch closer. and closer. until he could whisper things in her ear to inspire her. "paint your soul," he'd instruct. and she'd turn, kiss his forehead and then paint her soul. one time, he brought his trunk of chains out from its corner with an audible heave and said, "your canvasses need a better place to rest. use this. cover it with paint. make it yours."

when she heard those words, her eyes changed and her heart did a happy dance. he couldn't feel what was going on inside her. but he always noticed when her eyes suddenly became more present. and in that moment, he knew giving her the trunk was right and good.

by the end of that day, she had covered every last inch of it in color. perhaps by accident, or by fate, she'd painted the lock shut - trapping the chains inside so that the only way to break them free was a sledgehammer. but their tool box was filled with garden spades, empty mason jars and a stray needle and thread. and they had no intention of adding to it.

Tuesday, March 06, 2012

a story. part 4.

on sundays, they could really be together. she would wake up before him to practice yoga in the living room and to make french press. then, she'd shower, put on his sweater and climb back into bed with two cups of coffee and a sketch pad. he'd wake up gradually. touching her leg and the space behind her knee - taking in her scent slowly. savoring the notes of lavender and, sometimes, honey. he loved her on a level that even he could not understand. he'd been trying to explain it since they'd met but words always seemed to trivialize his emotion - leaving his feelings hanging there - suspended in the dew-kissed morning.

sometimes, he'd play her a song. and as the beat and rhythm quickened and the horns and chorus rang out he'd say, "listen to that. right there! that is what you do to me. that is how i feel."

he always asked to see what she was drawing. and she trusted his opinion above all others. even more than her own, sometimes. and so, with her blessing, he would slowly show her what he thought.

if there was a tweak to make, she would tweak. if some blue needed to be added to the green, she passionately added more color. if he said, "put that away and just lie still," she would put it away and just lie still.

on sundays, he focused only on her - sometimes even forgetting that his trunk of chains existed.

Monday, March 05, 2012

a story. part 3.

it was snowing the day she came home. plump white flakes like chunks of coconut covered the street - crackling beneath car tires and hurried feet. he had been up all night thinking of his latest escape. there was a new type of chain that seemed stronger and more fierce than the kind that filled his trunk. and he'd been wondering if buying some would be a good investment. but he also wanted to buy her a dress that would look just as good on a chair as it would on her body. it had been an achy few weeks and he wasn't feeling like himself.
she knocked on the door when she first arrived so that she wouldn't startle him. she knew how he got when he was alone. she was pretty sure he'd not slept much. and she expected to see a pile of dishes in the sink.
he opened the door with a grand gesture. and then, he stood - grasping her hands and memorizing her face. again. it seemed different than it was before she left. it had new experiences behind it. her eyes had seen things she hadn't yet shared with him.
she curtsied and said "well, hello, my dear. it's been a long while since i've seen your tired eyes."
and he bowed saying, "they were tired before they saw you. now, they are wide awake."

the snow fell harder. more audibly. it grew deeper - covering her footprints and filling their balcony with white.

she danced around the living room. spinning and twirling. telling him stories about people and places and that time she sat in the park and watched the sun until it was gone. it was at that moment that his heart felt full again. and he wondered if she would ever know how empty it felt while she was away.

Sunday, March 04, 2012

a story: part two.

she'd only been gone for a few days and even the dust behaved differently.
the way it settled on her favorite things.
the way it clung to porcelain - as if it knew its time was short.
the way it danced in the streaming sunday morning sunlight. laughing at the usually spic-and-span space. "ha, ha. ha, ha."
for two whole days, he'd been keeping it together. washing the dishes and straining to see the horizon from the tiny window above the sink.
three times a day, he'd dry his hands on her bright yellow dishtowel, clenching it with a fist that just wanted to be open and on her shoulders.
sometimes, he'd even take the dishtowel to bed to help him remember that her hands always smelled like lemon and lavender.
but it was hard for him to think of anything other than the fact that the bed seemed too big without her in it.
so he sipped tea and wondered if she was sleeping on her side or flat on her back. and if she had the covers tucked tightly around her chin.
he hoped she knew he'd saved her half of the biggest and juiciest tomato of the season. a bright red orb of blush seeds and pulp - begging only for a sprinkle of salt and an appreciative palate.

a story.

he was an escape artist and she was a painter.
when it rained, she never said "oh, this is going to ruin my hair." and he didn't say "well, this is going to change our plans."
they grew tomatoes on their tiny balcony. some days, it was all they ate. tomato sandwiches. tomato pie. tomato jam.
she had stacks of books that contained paintings by other painters who she thought were far better and more ethereal than she could ever be.
she used the books to prop up her canvass. she had no use for an easel.
he had a trunk full of locks and chains that he would wrap around his body with dramatic flair. spinning and waving his hands until he was completely covered in metal.
sometimes, she would come over to him just as he finished bolting the last lock.
he would place the key in her paint-covered hand and she would unlock him.
laughing and saying things like "you have escaped for the last time" and "i always know where to find you."
those were the moments that felt like a dance.
they could hug each other with their eyes.

Saturday, March 03, 2012

sick day.

i noticed you,
when you were
slicing an onion
in your purple kitchen
filled with
and things that seem better suited

i was sitting in my sick bed.
the red headboard
my fiery throat
my neck cushioned
on black and white west elm.
my body wrapped
in my comfort quilt.

it was evening
but i could only stomach
and lifetime television for women.

but just outside my burnt-toast walls
yours were filled with
lit burners
simmering a

and i
in my flannel
gripping my thermometer
wondered if by adding
olive oil
you could add depth
to the flavor profile
of your

Friday, March 02, 2012

different hours.

you get 60 minutes every hour to make time matter.

like sand
through clenched fists
that are too loose
for tiny grains
to stay.