he found his breath

rolling body, my body is a forged steelsmith from the plains of america. my heart is a wheel, i am a firetruck. you cannot always beat the monster, sometimes the monster beats you. and jamie curled himself into the fetal position in the middle of the airport and screamed over and over for me to help him breathe again. it felt like a panic attack. he was overwhelmed and overtired and hungry and jacked up and scared about traveling from here to there to there to there. and i lay on the ground with him in the chicago airport and tried to teach him how to breathe. he looked up at me, eyes all a river and tried to breathe with me. and tried and kept trying and kept looking at me for help. kept telling me verbally that he needed me to help him breathe. and he found his breath, and i held him and rocked him on the ground in the middle of the walkway until he came back up for air. until he found his breath again. and i think this is the only important thing i do with my life. and i think everything else is selfish nonsense, in the end – and this is the only important thing i can do. hold another being until they can find their breath again. teach my son about the waves and how to ride them. how to breathe through them. how its okay to feel. and hold him until he can find his breath again.


 

i am trying to be patient with myself, with my own journey towards finding patience with myself. i am trying to be kind to myself, to my body. i am trying to stay present and i am remembering, finally, what it is to take it all in. to breathe in the moment through your cells. to feel the moment on your whole body. to feel the rush and power of the ocean pummeling you. to feel a vista sweeping around you. to bow your head to the sunset. to take the five minutes to walk through the tree-lined path. to bramble through the roots. i am happy to be back home, to reconnect with my own rituals, my own processes that ground me and keep me sane. i am grateful for the summer night, for the buzz of the insect choir in the darkness. for the warm fluid air that fills and peels.

golden valleys/golden seas

hills of the valley, take my brittle hands and sand them clean – tip the edges of my water to the shore – let me be a tongued wave again. whirling away, whipping away, turning free the roots and brambles of my fears and shadows. let me be the best of myself – let me work towards cultivating the fire bright enough to light up my own cave. show me the shadows, show me the mountain, show me the valley. show me the road, let me keep wandering it. tell me, bones of the earth, are we the hungry mountainside, are we deepening caverns of a cliff-face falling into the sea?

san Diego, we pull through your valleys. we channel over your inlets – the water, the sea, the gravity of the Pacific. the elegance of your rapture wraps up the coastline, tucks Tijuana in for an afternoon nap, soaks California in golden sunshine hum. just humming – sea breeze and cooled blue haze, you do not shout/you swirl, the tipjar of time chimes/bold waves keep racing towards themselves; self-reflecting, self-refracting, self-soothing. you tuck yourself in at night, hungry hallows of san diego – you are self-sufficient. you are the patient silence of the california coast/the whisper of golden mountains and cliff-faced vistas echoing back to the moon like a promise of what life is supposed to be. and the people honor that promise – they honor the gift – they get out and use the magic/they soak up the gold in the air, in the sun, in the streets.

i am endlessly grateful. for the blue turquoise at the edge of the sea/for the curling edges of the coastline that open at your feet/for the hungry valleys of california that stretch out on all sides with wistful, brave flower dottings. for the thrumming song of my little boys joy – splayed out in singsong corridors and billow shake dances. little bent tree dancing. i am grateful for cousin, for brother, for laughter. for strange, unfolding journeys that keep taking me places somewhere i never expected to be/with the wind at my back and the gold of the earth shaking its dust out and dancing.

a thrilling mound

we dug our hands into soft sand – fire-beach children. my son’s pudgy fingers pressing at the earth, my fingers dancing around shells/pockets full of waves and sunken bits of salt-treasure. we made a mound – a simple mound/a thrilling mound. decadent with shell bits, ornate with pearlescent rocks – simple colors/magnetic cream and golden hue – something found, something borrowed, something blue and black and hollow. a shell, a whisper/a flagpole at the top of a tower. a firmament – a creation – a castle – a mound – a pile of wet sand/a toddler. a dream afternoon – silence, the splash of the tide, the concoction of clouds in the sky – curdling into a late afternoon storm. gathering, gathering. the sky is gathering. our hands our gathering. sandrain, we dream a wish moment. we build the captain of this ship – a tiny sliver of shell. a broken home washed up on the shore. we gather, we gather. we dig our hands in. we wash with the waves. we wave with the current. we sit in the silence – in the crash – in the din – in the storm-gather. we are a pair of sand-children, we are a pair of silent eyes creating a thrilling mound. and watching it get washed back out to sunken bits of salt-treasure.

maps to the moon

and i opened the door, flurried-faced and rushing and i heard that old familiar weep coming from my mother. the one i had learned to put away. i curled around the corner in slow motion, lurching every little wooden floorboard. you had notepad on your lap, and words scribbled on it that rubbed against my eyes, that sandpapered against my ears. harsh words, new words, vocabulary that hasn’t been revisited in a long time. stage 4, inoperable, chemotherapy. resolute words. words that tell a story within themselves. you said i can’t believe both my parents are going to die from cancer. i felt the air leave the room, the shock tingle up my spine, the resoluteness come to sit on my shoulder. all of the sudden. all of the sudden.

i think about time. about the unsteady, guilty, lack of clarity to how the timeline will fall out. how you’ll feel guilty for not doing more, for not being there. i think about sickness, i think about all the people with irresolute time. all the people waiting. i think about ryan. i think about fairness, and what a silly frame we put on our time. what we think we deserve. i think about what a fucking awesome life my grandfather has had. how he has been bold and strong and inspiring and smart and witty every single day that i known him.

 

but the night before – we were vibrant song-children. we were shooting off fireworks in the yard, getting told to keep it down by the police, rolling drum sets out of the backs of vans. we were cobble-headed moonbeams, we were violet-light singers. we all stayed up so late laughing we watched the full moon rise over the tops of the highest trees. we were 2am grilling and feasting on smoked meats. i kept checking the stars, i kept watching the moon rise, i kept filling my eyes with the sounds bouncing around me. i kept watching the moonrise.

and even now – the fireflies are dancing upwards in the grass as if they know everything. as if they know that we know nothing. that time is a dream. that dreams are alive. that magic is a whisper right in front of your eyes. that the seasons will keep birthing. that the fields of wheat will still roll in the wind, will still bend in the storm, will still grow in the morning. and even now – the fireflies are glaring their mystery show for tiny peaks and upturned valleys – little fire dance whether we are watching or not. whether we are watching or not.

 

i think about you and i hope for no pain, for wide breaths, for a few more sunsets. i hope you can watch a few more fireflies rise in the twilight. i hope for a few more pies, some decadent naps, some blissful dreams, some fresh july blueberries. i hope you get a few more summer storms, a few more races down the highway. i hope everyone tells you they love you. and i hope you feel no pain. i hope you know how strong you are, how loved you are, how inspiring your life has been. you wrote the maps to the moon, grandpa, and no one can take that away from you. i hope you get a few more moon rises, that it shines glassy-eyed and full, and that it gives you enough light to see in the dark.

purple summer

follow my little trail, breadcrumbs and bones – turn style ribbons/hampers full of typewriter keys/ follow my little footsteps, i am dancing, i am a river.

the sky is purple haze and lilac-cream and the rain is a gentle visitor on my head. the summer is curling outwards and i am trying to remember to take it in. i am trying to remember to take the time to breathe it in, to feel the rain on the roof, the clatter of cloud shapes across the sky. i am trying to remember to feel the grass between my toes, on my back, between my fingertips. i am creating in a new way now – dancing and plotting and graphing and charting and moving bodies in space. teaching and directing and discovering aspects of my own strength i had not yet tapped in to. i am owning my shit and bumbling boldness in ways i did not even know i truly love. i am enjoying a new process, a firm hand, a vast crafting. seeing a show from the other side. making decisions and sticking to them. being clear, crafted, specific. on the beat. inside the sound. with the rhythm. swaying. i am enjoying creating and i am enjoying getting to revisit my beloved soul. this show feels sacred to me. like a carved part of my ancient heart. a ghost that came to sit and heal me at a time when i was broken. a melody that came to sing me out of grief when i was all sorrow and flutterskin. when i was life-shaken and curledfear this music came to sit on my shoulder. to be life-affirming. to sing out the sorrow and show me how beautiful it was. and i could hear it – reflecting back – the beauty in the depth of your sorrow – the beauty in the human experience, the human struggle, the human spirit. the sensory experience of life and living. of finding the light in the darkness. and the comfort of making peace with the darkness, and the glow of holding fast to the smallest of lights – that’s what this show gave me. and kept giving me. and kept giving me. and walked me out of pain so that i could sit with sorrow. and sit with beauty. and sit with joy. and feel the shadows, the ghosts, the lights, the melody, all at once. sit with the autumn and winter of your soul, and languish in the spring and summer of your soul.

and you said the best way to describe me is that i inhabit my body completely. and i have since i was a teenager. and that that was special. and that was a beautiful thing to say, i think.

so let’s sing it – the song of purple summer.

and it is not binary; it is complex. and it is not one season we all endure – it is all of them. and they are all this life. and it is not parts and parts and parts. it is complex. it is not binary, it is complex.

i promise to honor you

and when the moment comes, you’ll know it.

and the moment came. and I gave Jamie his last milk tonight. and i felt so fucking proud of myself. for breastfeeding him for 3 years straight. for giving it my all. for giving him everything. my body, my life, my time, my strength. and i felt sad. no, sad is not the word. simply overtaken. with the momentousness of raising a child in your hands. of holding him with patience until he is able to hold himself. in being able to give that to someone. in the gratitude i have that the best person i know in the world is my son. that i get to lie with him on the bed and look at his sleeping face and see this person that has come into the world. this fucking amazing human being. that will one day be a man of his own. that is already growing in to a boy of his own.

i promise to honor you. to stand by you. to try my best to give you my best. to remember you in innocence and know your truest heart. to keep my promises. to talk honestly and with patience. to be patient with you. to let the moments of your life unfold and to try to give you the foundation to be fearless. to be wide-eyed and full of light. the way you have been every single day of your life since you came in to my arms three years ago.

the moment came, and it was on a sun-dappled afternoon in july. it was warm breeze through the open summer window, it was 7-o-clock golden light dancing through the pane. it was the month you came tumbling in to this world. i finally pulled myself from your longing mouth. i saw how my body had grown yours, first inside of my skin, then outside. i saw how strong and true and beautiful you had grown. i let you lay there on the pillow next to me, blissful and dreaming. i let myself cry a few tears. i knew i had done well for you. i knew you were strong. and i knew i was strong, for walking the strange and lonely path i have to this moment. i cried because of the incredible journey we took to this moment. i cried because the moment was beautiful, because the moment was sad, because the moment was bittersweet. i cried because you were so beautiful lying there on the pillow. i cried because the moment was ending – because you are growing up – because i was able to pinpoint this moment along a constellation of moments that are before and in front – and that the train is going to keep barrelling – faster now, with your own stride and your own wings about to catch up with your body. and soon you will learn to flutter, to flap, to fly. and i will be floating here – frozen – on a bed, dappled inside the 7-o-clock summer sun. and you will never know this moment but in a primal ticking on the inside of your brain. and i wish you could conceive of how precious and sweet this part of life is – i wish we all could. i wish we could all remember it. honor it. hold on to it. make the glow of the summer hum through the window pane last and last and last. and here you are, lying on the bed now – so little, so big, all at once. i allowed myself to cry for only a moment. and then i curled myself off the bed and let you dream. and let you breathe. and let you grow. all by yourself.

and words come to rest on my shoulders. and fireflies come to dance in the darkness. and spine comes to keep me upright.

Instead of having dinner with my father, I went swimming. Capsized my ribcage into a small boat and let my insides float through the water. I kept hoping something resembling calm would begin to reside in them once more. I kept trying to breathe, hoping the world would breathe back a little softer/a little sweeter. My body felt lighter in the water – just a piece of a current. Just a currently floating egg in a world doused in gravity. I kept swimming; the light kept dying. I felt summer curl its hands around my throat like a promise. I felt summer come swarming in like a fire. I kept swimming; the light kept dying. The sunset hurled its hands towards the stars – the fireflies shook out their dancing legs and wandered me alive.

You brought up brother Richard, I saw you choke a little on your intake of breath. I feigned disinterest/I said I hadn’t heard from him – it was true. The look in your eyes said the same. I wish I knew how to help you brother, I wish I knew where you were. I wish I knew how to bleed out our family blood. I wish I knew how to feel whole again. I wish a family was a pair of strong hands on your back.

I think about the swell of the summer singing towards me. I think about endings. I think about beginnings. I think about the reason I broke up with you. I think about honoring that reason. Holding it to the light and being loyal to it. I think about loyalty. I think about finality, the fierceness of the heart, the windchime of the rain. I think about running back to the forest, folding myself up in the trees, covering myself back up in bark. I think about writing, getting myself back into the flow. I think about all the things I need to write. I think about honesty. And fear. And how to fight bravely for fearlessness. How to walk towards honesty. How to be brave.

and words come to rest on my shoulders. and fireflies come to dance in the darkness. and heart comes to keep me fearless.

summer blood

june bugs come swimming into my spine/summer blood comes pumping into my veins/heat stroke comes filling behind my eyelids – i am aswelter with ferocity and love. grace and grass stains. bug-bitten and love bidden. the season somes swimming towards me – teeth bared, firefly singing, sweat-faced flying. curled up little mountain roads – sighing up catskill corners, floating into upstate new york. up, up, you can see the horizon dipping over new paltz, you can watch the little lights glow on the hillside at dusk. you can feel the stars pulling themselves out of bed – peering through the blanket of the sky – curious, wondering, wandering – stretching their bones, curling their hair. ready, ready, are you ready stars? are you ready for another season of junebug magic and ferris wheels?

stage lights – are you ready? are you filled with cataclysm? with the echoes of voices ready to catch – to reverberate – to sing back to a hollow chest pumping summer blood, firesweat – wilderness heart? do we have the heart – are the hearts still beating?

follow that rhythm. it will follow you back. second star to the right and straight on till morning.

golden hour, they call it

never nothing always / calls me from my skin
rings me round my rosie – a pocket full of
folded napkins / wishes / tissues;
pat-a-cake corners and creases

 

goldrenrod afternoon and i am a curled toe on a blade of grass. june wanders in like a warm lagoon-fellow, i am a suitor. the summer sizes me up, asks me whether i am gentle enough to know it. i bask in the rays of something ponderous and hazy – gold-flecked and sun-beam twirled. there is light coming through the leaves – haven’t you heard? haven’t you seen their electricity on chlorophyll? haven’t you seen the tongues of roots – pulling towards – the sun, or the haze, or the courage of june to exist. like a small thumping heart under the ground – pulsing green fire into the sky. everything reaches – higher, hazier, dipped in fresh goldleaf. the meadow, walking towards me, knows nearly everything i do not know.

the fallen sun, hungering towards sleep, rests its solid colors on the horizon like a pillow, turns to tuck itself in, rolls about in its cotton sheets; its violet, pink and rose; its sunset wool grasping towards the evening like a lullaby in the sky. i sing heavy eyes – wild eyes – gold is gasping in my hair. sunset eyes now – dappled vision – song of bravery through the trees now. turning now, towards the approach of summer moonsong. it’s coming, it’s coming. summer moon is rising.

Your mind ratchets like a sprocket
changing gears, ripping seams,
suddenly your mind sees with different ears

Maybe your body too,
feels it – the snap of sinews,
the stretch of musculature,
your chest when my head burrows, neatly into tendon and courage, tucked into your lungs, and the space between your ribcage amd your heart – cells like anything else, atoms like anything else, raging like anything else – a marching band like anything else, like everything else is only a slave to this wizard – this heart creature, swollen and incorrigible
My string of dandelion vertebrae corrode into honey and jam, marmalade words ringed like opals in your eyes
i supple, watering can, grow mountains/ i shed tectonic plates/ i am walking rose bush, fluttered silk/ i am musculature on fire/ i am waterboned and rivergasping
Thank you for this poem of a day, and the way it leaned on me

Hot blooded orchestra feet and a temperament for meat/ rich, waddling, grass-leaved eyes
The answer is I figured out how to unstopper the valve in my head

We live in the literary dreaming