Friday, April 26, 2013


By midnight, I am a cardboard cutout, corrugated and soaked in kerosene, pockmarked with bullet holes where my own words shot right through me, deflected as they were by your steel armor. How can an 8-year-old be so stubborn?

When sleep finally takes you, I collapse into unconsciousness. At the baby's routine waking, I am the walking dead. She can still draw life from me, though, so I must still be alive. In what way?

In the morning, I walk the dog alone. Rusted metal plates the inside of my skull. The oxidation is almost complete, I tell myself. But the cool air reanimates my form, and I look down at my legs in motion: whole, inflated, two of them. They surprise me.

A great blue heron alights from the creek, wingspan impossible. I could have done better, I admit to the sky. The breeze makes my eyes water and the words taste familiar in my mouth. I will know the curve of each letter by the end of this: all the sharp edges and ragged corners pressed into my heart.

But that's how we evolve, isn't it? Better upon better, inch my inch. From slime to heron, great and blue. It only takes a couple billion years.

Tuesday, April 16, 2013

eyes open

I awake into the near-light of a morning stilled with fog. The air and the hour weigh heavy. Maybe the sun isn't going to come up today.

But it does. Of course it does. Only instead of a distinct orange orb, the sunrise smears across the sky. I inhale the moisture and the image into my lungs and all I can think is this:

I can see. Oh god, I can see.

Saturday, April 13, 2013

on thawing, and thinking

Night squeezed a few flakes out of the damp air and the boardwalk is speckled white and slick. I walk without trust, bridged over this thawed and yawning marshland. Just ahead, a knot in the wood looks up at me and I stop, not wanting to step on it. It weeps with moisture in a form somewhere between frost and dew. I could believe it's sap, softened by the onset of spring, bleeding life into limb and leaf. But these are hewn planks. Dead wood. My footsteps echo across the boardwalk.

Tuesday, April 9, 2013

from inside

My alarm sounds at 5:40. I had set it to a gentle, swelling song but the notes still hook me in the gills and leave me flopping on shore. Not enough, I gasp. But I get up anyway and pull jeans over leggings, surveying my starting point: rust in my joints and fog behind my eyes.

I always feel better by 6:01, though, so I keep moving. The daily walk with my neighbor and our dogs has become a critical part of a healthy routine that has held me whole through these months of cabin fever and sleep deprivation.

But by the time I've put in my contacts and sipped a bit of coffee, I realize that it's raining too hard to go out. I'm disappointed, of course, but I'll take these few pre-dawn minutes alone anyway. I sit on the couch, hanging onto my mug, watching fog web the spaces between the still-bare tree branches. The coffee's heat steeps into my palms and the rain taps on the roof (of my soul).

I don't want the sun to come up just yet. I'm not ready for the day to begin.

But her bare feet on the hardwood floor draw me to the surface. I smile at her sleepy face, at her bright eyes, at the life brimming there. She doesn't need any coffee.

Mama, can I turn on the light? she whispers.

Of course, I answer. Light opens the room.

I look back at the window but the lamp creates a glare, and the glass no longer promises a portal to the world outside. Instead, it reflects the wall, the fireplace, the mantle clock, her form. My focus shifts and I swallow the last of my coffee. It's time to make breakfast.

Monday, April 1, 2013

on spring

Snow melts and icicles drip. Birds sing. Closed windows muffle these voices.

My heart has been beating all winter against clamped veins and bottlenecks. Now my fingers are dead branches. I press them against the window frame but it doesn't give. I can't be sure I'm using all that much force.

Through smudged glass the sun brushes my face and I turn toward it, slow like I'm under water. But the light is sincere: it means something now. The hours that pass trace promises across the living room floor.  That the season will change. That beneath the peeling bark and rotting cork, my core is green. That the sap will run again. And that yes, yes, I am alive.