While My Springtime Sleeps

It must be something deeper
than a good thing that
no longer holds

an extinguished morning
parading its remnants
of colors like a robe
whose only virtue left
is dignity,
the weight of history,
the tangerines and mulberries
no longer as vibrant and
their edges blurring,
the cranes tired of
kissing the sky, the sky
tired of holding the stars

and all the battles fought
read like poems
written by the victors,
the pearls harvested from
the shells, now empty.
I have to think of a name
for that different hunger,

mesh of extra fine wire
between myself and the world,
here, where love has evolved
into print on brocade
of converted summers
and waiting,
beauty all lined up
on daily dusted shelves.

Serendipitous, Like Double Exposure Photographs

You are healing me
but you are also breaking me
in places where I didn’t think
I could be broken
Will Shakespeare said,
“like a sickness and its cure together”
but it’s really like two different
things occupying the same
place at the same time

my body is the middle ground
where I meet you and leave you
where I fight the silence
and struggle with the words

my memories are the junction
where I preserve you and evolve you
where I lay what we’ve promised
next to what we’ve proven
like two pieces of glass
interpreting the light, twice

we have built a solemn place
for some dreams to die with dignity
while the intimacy of surviving
teaches us new ways
to fill up the undefined
by reimagining glory

we cast long shadows on moments
where there is nothing else to do
but sit in what will soon be forgotten

here, the winter, here the unrelenting
the darkness happens like seeds
in barren biomes
but I can always find you at the heart of it
and find myself in the knowing

Honeymoon’s Over

It echoes in pairs,
the love that you speak
in times of self-doubt,

once to mark the moment
and once to to see
how it measures up to the silence

when you’ve conquered the obvious demons
and it’s no longer about gathering courage
but rising above the oppressiveness
of the ordinary,
weight of routine on your shoulders
cursed mirror on the mantle
household objects that are
never where you left them
feet dragging from day to day

and the voices return,
the ones that used to tell you
you are not capable of the love
you are professing

they’ve changed their tune
since the wedding, now they say
love setting you free is a myth
and you are too small to break
past the cookie cutter dream,
the identical houses on numbered streets
and carbon copied joys darting glaces
at the neighbor’s greener lawn

the surfaces don’t reflect
all the colors back,
and after a while, parts of you
feel erased after so many tellings

you used to say it because you believe it
now you say it because you need it,
need to cross the t’s before
you go to bed and you wonder
whether it still matters

it’s no longer the unknown that kills you
but the complacency that the chance
to paint the next installment of blue
on the sky you promised, to tend
to the roses of the summer you promised,
will always come back around
after you miss it.

Let your voice ring messy.
Let the dirty dishes soak,
the movie on the screen run unpaused.
Let your muscles concede defeat
to the fraying of the long day.
Lay it down over the furniture,
over the ironed and meticulously
folded clothes: the romance of
possibility replaced by familiarity,
the disillusionment of compromises.

But speak your love.

Speak your love as a bridge
across all the times you’ve said it before,
because time fades the words,
but it also peels away the layers
that are too tired, too calloused,
to caught up in the static
to stop in wonderment at the beauty
of a love that stayed true.

Every Mile is Home

Every day he loves the woman under repair.
Some days I get a little closer
to being the woman who’s more whole,
easier to love, and more worthy
of loyalty, of friendship,
of compassion and understanding.
Other days I fall apart a little more
than the broken thing I already am.

But every day he comes home
and loves with all his strength
the woman he finds here,
all the disparate pieces,
all the uncomfortable silences,
all the gaps in reason.

We both know that if we waited until
all that needs fixing has
been fixed before we loved,
we wouldn’t have each other.
And maybe there is no end.
Maybe the puzzle doesn’t get
completed before we run out of time.
Maybe this is the woman he married—
not the woman I could become
after I’ve shed all the pounds
and gotten more sleep
and stopped being insecure
and stopped being homesick for my native country
and become less hung up on my past
and learned to manage my time better
and learned to streamline my spending habits
and finally flushed out of my system
that Depo Provera contraceptive
that made me unresponsive in bed
and prone to bouts of depression.
Maybe the version of me that has
overcome all the things that
make it such a challenge to love me,
the version I’ve always
meant for him to have instead
because I know he deserves better,
doesn’t exist at all.
Maybe I’m the only one here,
the one that makes him want to be here.
And maybe I’m enough.

Loving Quasimodo

My soul is not the same shape
as my body
and doesn’t hurt the same way.

So when I tell you I come
from a past of abuse
but have no bruises
or scars to show for it
I hope you realize I need
a different kind of rescue

and a healing that follows
no straight path

you don’t watch one part
for signs of bleeding
or keep the same few bones
in splints or tourniquets

you watch for triggers

you read between the lines
where I don’t seem to respond
with an attitude you might
expect from those
whose childhoods were soft
and whose coming-of-age
is blanched in sunshine

you wait for madness to strike
and dance with it
until it slowly passes
and welcome me back

you save me from myself
by being there
by letting me borrow your courage
when mine runs out
and take temporary asylum
in your peace
I’ll be carrying luggage
but I won’t unpack
and I’ll take them back out with me

you take the words I mean
and those I throw over my shoulder
like they are nothing
just to hear how loudly
they crash on impact,
bend them into shapes of questions
and leave them by my bedside
so I can straighten them out
and apologize
and make everything right

you take my trust
and never ever hit me with it
otherwise you either
break it or break me

and my soul will have to
amputate another limb
or grow another organ
to compensate.

My soul is not the same shape
as my body…

Dreaming Across Rooftops

I want to lie under the stars
of your unraveled incompleteness
maybe feel my subconscious lifting
to come face to face with the void
in the shape of everything you feel
that you’ve been missing
I think I’ll know you a little better
if one night I slip past
the clutter of complex geometries
you have chosen to surround yourself
and come out in the open
where the wind roars loud enough
to swallow your silence
where you permit yourself
to be hungry
to feel empty
to pine for what is beyond your reach

and I will help you cast it out
into the brisk evening air
like blankets we are hanging out to dry

and we can lie down on the grass,
side by side,
and marvel at the exquisite design
of an imperfect life
and watch the flaws sparkle

you may be insecure
you may be helpless
let that feeling burn
for warmth
for light
it’s all right
let it adorn our shared sky

trace its path with idle fingers
like constellations in progress
and give them names
taken from our personal legends

and be still for their whispers
for the past and the future

Self-Love in the Pitch Black

There are a lot of things you can do
while waiting for your eyes
to adjust to the dark
after switching off the light.
You can reach
into the back of your throat
and gather the screams
you’ve been holding back
throughout the day,
refined lady that you are,
and release them quietly
into the absolute stillness
that surrounds you,
where you will no longer
be able to remember them
by the time the blindness lifts.
You can pull out the love
from under you,
smooth out the creases
from bearing the weight
of silly dancing and eating
leftovers off somebody else’s plate
and waiting for the right moment
for certain things to be said,
and just take the time
to let its softness fill
the gaps between your fingers.
Here is a hush over your eyes
and soon the noise of dim shapes
and shadow corners will break
the sacredness of the moment,
from the pitch black will
re-emerge the ordinary, cast
in a gradient of inertia.
So count the stars
inside your womb
and paraphrase beauty
for their names.
Brace the world at your feet
for the coming dawn
while reminding yourself
before the night is brushed away
that a little rest is all you need.

The Queue for Luggage at the Terminal

There’s a part of me
that loves you by training my eyes
to focus on the shining light,

and a part of me that loves you
for all that you have overcome

loves the shards of your character
that survived,
though not unscathed,
while the rest of the pieces
got thrown into the fire, shards
with edges that may be too sharp
and unsafe to touch
but around which
I have chosen to wrap my hands
at the risk of getting wounded,

because that’s what trust is.
We either get matching scars
or we learn to handle
and be handled
so that the place we meet
marks the end of the roads
of hurt we have either suffered
or caused on others.

And the place where we surrender
the parts of ourselves
we admit we cannot fully know
without getting undone
is the place where we are loved the most.

Restoring a Stradivarius

Kiss me along the rays
of my inner sun.
Call your serenity after
the ocean blue of my soul.

Remind me again
that I am infinite.
I have cast my future
in faith and fever dreams.
I have a lithe spirit,
but the rushing of days
and the dragging of nights
have taken with them
parts of my song.
If you can please
sing it back to me so I can
remember the words.

Love me
to the limits of awakening.
Lay your head against the night
whose stars are my eyes,
whose fragile stillness borrows
from my dark, silver-edged fears.
Get lost again in the city
peopled by all the ways
I am beautiful.

And I promise to belong to you
like I have always belonged,
deeper than the skin
and larger than these four walls.