Nakedness

January 19, 2017 § Leave a comment

you undress your soul for me
slowly, the shyest striptease
pausing with each layer, poised to flee

like when I walked careful and quiet through the woods
and stumbled upon a liquid-eyed deer
in the sudden openness of a greening glade
and we stood, staring and alert,
I, not daring to breathe
She, frozen and tail-flickering for danger
an otherworldly blown-glass moment
that lasted into forever and only an instant.

And here we are
in the tangled forest of our lives
forging new trails and stumbling, startled
into a dusk-drenched clearing
our wide eyes meeting, unexpected
and the world hushes
just to hear the aching perfect harmony
of our heartbeats.

What did you see, in that first moment?

I found myself absorbed in you:
your battered armor over rough scarred hide
glimpses of the soft tender places underneath
wondering, imagining at what lay at the core of you

and now, day by day, you show me more
you let me help remove a piece of armor
you pull off the worn gambeson
and there’s bracing tension in your every line
uncertainty and nakedness in your averted gaze

Oh, love!
have you truly seen yourself
beneath those layers of hiding and protection?
You are corded with the sort of muscle gained by heavy trials
amid the places you’ve tended into softness,
the webbing of scar tissue
and the way you’ve stretched through it,
the art inked upon your soul
molding yourself with Will and care
into a sculpture of your own choosing.

You are more beautiful with every newly revealed fraction of you
and my heart’s song winds even richer harmonies with yours
and I am falling deeper in love
the more of you I learn.

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Three Needs of the Avian Heart

October 21, 2016 § Leave a comment

Give me love like an anchor in the storm of my mind
a resting-place to return.
Give me love like a harbor,
the stone walls of a home,
solid and windowed and rooted below.

I fly, my loves; I soar.
This bird was not made for a gilded cage.

Give me love like the sky that can hold my whole wonder
an endless expanse to explore.
Give me love like the thermals
joy of flight, soaring height
discovering all we might learn.

I hunt, my friends; I strike.
This hawk takes no hood, just the glove.

Give me love like the pyre when my feathers have dulled
a passion intense and white-hot.
Give me love like a crucible
heat under pressure
to ignite, to renew, to transform.

I burn, my beloveds; I ache.
This phoenix requires the sun and the flame.

Dancing with Risk

August 25, 2016 § 1 Comment

You are not safe to love
with your quiet wounds and thorn-defenses
sharp hooves and antlered crown, accustomed
to being hunted, sensitive
to being prey, and determined
to defend you and yours.

You are not safe to love
with your hidden grove and covered trails
your hunted heart that harmonizes
with one who grasped me hard enough to break
your clever reading of the herd
and the shadow of your crown is colored with
the stain of dried heartsblood –

and I am shy of risk.

My heart still recovers from the infection She left;
the scar still runs raw and seeping in my chest.
You are many things I have said “never never” to –
your private ways, your dried-blood crown,
the fear-sweat of defensive prey-beast I smell when you feel threatened,
the physical distance, the generation gap,
this oh-so-quick closeness between our hearts.

I am not safe to love, either
clinical caution and cold analysis
peering under every crack and crevice I can find
prying beneath your armor
challenging, questioning, testing
to try to learn the dangers before I go too deep
before I get too attached (oh, too late, too late)
my chance-shy mind seeking some kind of control
constriction instead of trust, so rigidly wary

–and I am wounded too
a skittish hunting-bird, pupils pinning with stress
and a serpent lives within my breast, dry-scaled and hungry-eyed
its fangs rust-red with old dried heartsblood
(not unlike that upon your antlers, and so you see
we share the same color of a shadow
though they take different shapes)

And yet.

You do not push and pry at my defenses,
only share of yourself and wait for me to respond.
You ask for trust, as you stand there with open heart and open hand.
You ask me to gamble, to jump per chance to fall
(or fly, and it’s true that I have wings
and sometimes they even work)
–to choose trust, as you do with such fervent intensity
and joyous passion, despite betrayals and
all those old wounds in your unguarded spirit

and I am awed, I am humbled, I am set aflame.

We are not safe to love
with this gulf of land between us
connected by signals bounced between stars
by glowing mirrors sharing words and faces
the moon changing phases so many times
before we can touch.

Yet we do, love–
and I remember the last time I leapt into this level of uncertainty
this kind of deep passion and this whirling dance
long ago, and oh, the rewards of that are with me still
in the growth-rings of my spirit
in the warming of my heart–

It was worth it then, and I suspect
(thrilling, fearing, smiling)
that it is worth it now,
that you are worth this risk,
that We are worth this leaping into falling,

flying,

dancing!

Gymnastics

April 27, 2015 § 1 Comment

High-context was my mother tongue—
my mother teaching me contortionism
how to fold yourself up small

Self, mediated to the tastes and needs of
the home and the church and the town,
monitoring, evaluating
editing everything before it left my lips
before the impulse moved my body
(“we don’t do that”
(“we don’t act like that”
(“you’re embarrassing me”
(warning phrases that You’re Doing It Wrong
(Punishment Will Follow When We Get Home
(Shape Up Now)

and more truly, underneath it all,
become Acceptable,
shape into what Mother wants,
twist all out of true
to mold around Her needs
the entire household bending
to the gravity well of Mom,
egg-shells of Her moods beneath our feet
treading light and careful, watching
Her every cue and unstated desire
learning to read minds just
to keep the peace
and be a little bit
safe.

I started unlearning it the moment I left home
stretching my wings outside the cage of adolescence
breathing deep for the first time in my life
and then, with a jolt, folding back in
wide-eyed, frightful,
waiting for an oppressive stare
the heaviness of Disapproval
that didn’t come.

I sought a therapist’s couch
afraid of becoming Her—
and learning, as I did,
how to see myself
how to feel again
speak my truth with only a moderate amount of fear.

I cut Her bindings when I cut my hair
learned to spread myself out large
let a shiny black bird teach me its harsh voice
and raucous ways, learned
to care for my own survival
a need to breathe and move and be
no matter what was Proper.

And when a lover tried to box me back in again
make me Hers and make me tame
For love, I tried – more than I’d tried in youth
contorting myself to Her desires
carving away pieces of myself to fit Her life
to keep the peace
and be a little bit
safe

but I’d grown too large into my own shape
my edges were sharper than before
my mouth couldn’t shape Her world
my eyes betrayed my fear and buried fury
and after months of striving
I tore away

and now

I can’t seem to bend into another’s liking
I can’t quite soften my grackle voice
I’ve forgotten how to speak the liquid Southern dialect
of my youth, grown spare as I am
to desert plains and mountain stone.
I try sometimes,
and the trying scrapes the raw places
that She left, rope across the half-healed wounds,
still-knitting muscles tearing like fire
with the twisting of my mind–

I am not as sharply direct as the dragons I admire,
nor as shifting-subtle as the people of my birthplace,
and I do not know yet know the full voice
of my own heart’s tongue.

My Heliopolis

May 1, 2014 § Leave a comment

You are crisp lines and aging brick
you are the wind whistling through alleyways
you are the graceful equation of the arch
and you are water-worn walls, sun-scorched rock,
ravens roosting on the growth of scaffolding.

The phoenix and the hawk
are migratory birds, all cycles
and the change of seasons,
ever leaving,
ever returning,
burning and evolving
though the core nature yet remains.

Be my place of returning
with your streets full of secrets
your fine architecture, old and new
growing in the ways that cities do
in the turning of the seasons
in the cycles of the sun and moon.

I am my own sun.
I burn and shine of my own light
drawn from the worlds above, below,
without, within,
the joy the pain the inspiration –
I light my own pyres, now.

Be not my igniting fire;
be not my captor, nor my hero.
Be instead my Heliopolis,
a stable place to build my nest,
to perfume with cinnamon and myrrh.
Hold me safe as I ache, and burn,
and am reborn.

To my Bright-Water Love

April 26, 2014 § 1 Comment

You are joy in motion
a reminder of optimism
an example of spring

You are spring sunlight
warmth after the long cold dark
thawing my sleeping heart

You are the April thaw
overflowing my mind with hope
ice giving way to life

You are new life after winter
greening my torn, parched spirit
gentle and flowering

You are flowering foothills
dancing waves and singing falls
chaos and joy, laughter and warmth
my sun returning
and bringing

spring

Elemental

February 20, 2014 § Leave a comment

A phoenix needs the flame
the sun, the solar flare
drawn to its beauty-bright
the incandescent sear

and burning hurts, it’s true –
too often or too soon
comes the risk of never rising
of burning out, consumed.

But every fire beckons
even with feathers bright and new,
drawn to each dark-shining beacon
to flames toxic and untrue.

It’s strange, this love of burning,
of heat and wind and flight,
when I shy from rocks and running
and the ocean is a fright.

Still, I’d rather death by sunfire
and the chances of rebirth,
than struggling in deep water
or a slow death on dark earth.

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