I think I may have finished all of my poems.
I used to have an edge.
I have written poems about rape,
About fighting hate with love,
Fighting ugliness with love,
My soul was tortured. I could rail for days and days about grief and sadness and anger and injustice.
My insides burned with words screaming to be heard,
Alight and exploding with rage at atrocities and indignation at intolerance.
Broken, I could wax for pages about love lost and scorned,
Languishing in loneliness and isolation,
Fear and loss.
I’m not sure what happened, but something inside has begun to shift.
It creaked at first, like it must when glaciers begin to melt, shifting against the earth,
I’m not sure what happened.
Can’t quite put my finger on it, but something began to not fit.
Day after day, I chafed and strained,
Trying to squeeze my body into something tailored and flattering and hourglass-shaped,
Sucking in my tummy, lacing in my ribs, hunching my shoulders,
I thought that perhaps if I just learned to stretch myself entirely forward,
I could mold myself into something that would make us all happy,
That would do all the things,
And do them right,
Do them on time and in all the right boxes.
Everyone would clap.
All of my jokes would be funny.
He likes it when my stories are terrible.
He likes it when they start with something utterly mundane that somehow seems important to note,
To say out loud,
And it just goes nowhere or includes too many details or I get too excited to reach the punch line.
He likes it when I’m out loud
Leans in when I touch him
He likes that I’m curious
And the fact that my hair never calms
I hope that he likes that it’s him bearing witness to my small and not so strong. He is.
So when he said to me, “You’ve been unhappy for a long time,” it took the breath out of me.
My laces had been tied so tight for so long,
I had grown used to the soreness,
Had thought that ribs were just sore,
Belly just uncomfortable,
Shoulders supposed to hang low.
I spent a moment arguing, but only a moment before remembering that he has been holding my stories for a while now,
Bears witness to my small,
Often picks up my not so strong, wraps his strong arms around it, and breathes warm air softly under its shell, fingers expertly meeting the jagged edges,
Coaxing them, gently smoothing them out until I can gather myself up again,
Send myself out into the day.
So when he said, “You’ve been unhappy for a long time,” I turned inwards, looked into myself and asked quietly,
I let the laces out a little,
Lifted my arms up, testing (they might not work),
Stretched them up slowly,
Stretched all the way out,
Stretched my ribs as far as they would,
Breathed in my own air, tasting, filling, pulling, filling,
I felt my heart expand.
Arms out, running now, climbing to the top of the mountain, I lifted my voice inwards and cried out,
My heart crawled out, shook the dust, surrounded every part of myself, surrounded the world, became one with Oneness,
And I was expansive
And she answered, “My courage.”
“Ah. What is it that you want?”
She blinked. Smiled, head tilted to the side, Mama’s voice rang in my ear. “There you are.”
I’ve been feeding her sunshine and long walks in the woods and climbs back to the mountains whenever we can and laughter and hope and “why nots”
And I don’t need him to breathe into her but he does all the same, holding her hand, warm and strong and steady and not leaving,
Brown eyes same color as my own.
Heart just as big.
Fills up all the space.