Sand Paper Day

Today is a sand paper day.
That wood could be
as sensitive as this
makes me feel more
sympathy for the tree
that became a table
or chair.

Becoming is rough.
(Being is tough enough.)

Today is a rug burn day.
The kind your brothers gave you –
You remember –
Skin, heart, mind, spirit pulled in
opposite directions until
it stings.

Loving is rough.
(Living is tough enough.)

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Dreams of Bears

I had my first dream about you last night:
I got the news that you had been mauled by a bear.
And I heard myself asking the question:
“Is he alright?”
And I knew that couldn’t be right.
And then my mind said:
No, it wasn’t the bear.
The bear was just the last thing
in a whole series of unfortunate things.
But that’s how it went.
That’s exactly how it happened.
Now, when someone asks me
the inevitable question of why you’re not here,
I’m going to tell them it was just the last bear.

And They Gathered To Watch The Children Play

Playground

And They Gathered To Watch The Children Play

When I was little (no, even smaller), I stayed with my great-grandmother, Mamaw Morale (Mo-rah-lee), her sister, my great-great-aunt Mattia, and my great-aunt, Betty (stage name Yolanda LaMarr).

The house always smelled like pasta, and the doorknobs of the old house looked like big diamonds. The ceiling tiles had glittery specks in it that I would try to count when trying to relax into nap-time. And Aunt Mattia cussed in Italian. A lot.

They lived in a two-story house, with my Aunt Betty living upstairs with her husband, my  Uncle Tommy, and their dog, Duke. There was a rusted metal staircase that went up from the back patio, where they would sometimes sit and play games.

And there were those metal chairs that we didn’t dare sit on in the summer.

They were light blue.

Little Sparrow

Mother, I think of you:
I see the gardens of a mother’s mother’s mother,
the dusty roads of Spain,
the cobblestones of Italy.
I can see your golden hair in the sun of it all
and in the water of the river,
a young girl dips a pail,
not knowing what her womb will bear.
And an ocean parts the two of you;
A deeper ocean parts me from you.

A bird flew from her fingertips,
a little sparrow,
a little dream,
a little daughter.

Mother, I dream of you,
and I see the joined hands of our recent separation:
the dusty road of Dallas,
concrete of a modern city.
I can see your golden hair upon the pillow beneath it all
and in the water of a tear,
your young girl dips her pail —
who knows what her womb will bear.
And an ocean parts the two of you;
A deeper ocean keeps me from you.

A bird flew from your fingertips…
a little sparrow,
a little dream,
a little daughter.

Buccaneer of Boutonnieres

She keeps a can of buttons beneath her bed —
She never knew when she might need them
The can was a treasure to me
I would sneak into her bedroom early in the morning
sometimes late at night and I would smuggle
the can into my bedroom
(I am descended of pirates — a buccaneer of boutonnieres)
I would dump them all out
hundreds of them
sink my hands in them
like they were coins of gold
the mix-matched, rough-sided and smooth-edged
currency of lost sweaters, shirts, trousers and button-eyed dolls.
I would count them
match them
color code them
And scoop them into my hands
They clattered in the can
as they dropped in.
There was no better sound.