Fish scale bubbles rise to the top of the bottle neck
disorderly in their clamor for the exit
ordered neatly in rows
air balloons floating upwards
pumped plump with helium or hot air
escaped from small hands or
I stepped off the train and
into the fold of your arms.
They circled me like I belonged there.
And I decided to stay.
I’ve been held by many arms,
known many embraces.
But yours, yours is the best one.
I looked up, uncertain, wavering.
Your steady eyes met mine,
saw through my walls.
‘Look at me’ you said.
And you looked back.
How many eyes have I met since then?
Across subway cars and accidentally on sidewalks?
Many have been clear and piercing,
But yours, yours are the best ones.
A cup of tea, a rainy haze.
An age old tune full of memories, old books with musty pages,
There are many things that comfort me,
Let me know that they are there without being anything but what they are.
I have many such things in my life
but you, you are the best one.
The wet towels I placed on my wooden floor to keep my room from being too dry at night.
I haven’t yet touched them, but I know how they feel-tough and clammy, bundled in wads of old fabric worn from seasons of being scrubbed on every floor and surface.
Somehow their job today is easier than soaking up spilled milk and mopping off dirty countertops.
Cold water before I exit the shower. Cold water gliding into my glass, down my throat.
You can tell when it’s cold. The sky seems so still and the color stagnantly gray.
Not a leaf stirs and each blade of grass stands tall, as if somehow the cold will flow by and leave them in peace.
There are no birds in the sky, perched on the swing set, on the feeder.
There are no rabbits in the bushes, under the trees.
Inside, where my house is kept at 63 degrees, I bundle on the layers.
How do you get vitamins from the sun?
I lay in the grass, splayed like a crucified Jesus, except one arm was allowed to cover my face.
Seep in I whispered to the sunlight, willing it to find each pore and permeate my soul with brightness.
Letting my breath drift in and out without effort, I inhaled the musty scents of the earth that mingled with the fresh breeze.
This was the smell of summer.
I had never liked summer; the heat that sticks to you, gets into your pores and swells you up like a balloon, as if with hot air. There never seems to be a way to grab onto the cool legs of spring, peeping out from beneath the hem of a sun dress. No, summer legs are sticky and distended, puffed with the temperatures you hate.
In efforts to alleviate these pressures, you spend hours under damp towels, fans pointed at you, sipping on ice cold somethingorother. You hunker down in air conditioned rooms, windows covered with dark sheets pinned to the walls with long antique hat pins like they have the power of superglue to keep out all the heat.
Your family’s giant air conditioner sits in your nice living room like some sort of special breathing machine. But it’s not there to help you breathe, but to let your house breathe. You are but a part of the house body, struggling to maintain your health alongside the rest of them. The box wheezes and shudders as it pumps and changes air from cool to hot and circulates it around and around. If it were colored air it might paint the space with clear, colored light, dancing across each surface, painting it with coolness. You hope to be one of those surfaces, spreading yourself out wide across the sofa, hoping every inch that the air touches will be an inch that stops sticking to the leather.
When night comes, spring peepers fade into fireflies. Your body lying again, this time across your bed. Hosting your own wrestling tournament between yourself and your sheets, the summer sticks to you once again, then cools across the room in the stillness of night.
I’m not sure which hurts more,
the sting of words
or of palm.
Both hit and impact
both leave marks.
To feel the forceful hand, quick against your cheek
leaving anger’s read seal.
but not one of pleasure.
Funny, that one’s response to a slap would be to touch the site of impact with your own palm,
as if recreating the violence in slow motion.
Only the ache has already been created.
An onslaught of fierce words punctuate the heavy air.
Funny, that one’s response to this onslaught would be to berate yourself further.
And I stood too close to the silver subway car
and it pulled away
leaving me nauseated and
at once repelled by the mire in the pit before me below the platform
magnetized by the desire to fly free into its black
They are out of ginger twist tea.
He uses his giant lips as a straw.
No, they don’t serve pot stickers at 930 in the morning, they haven’t even turned on the fryer yet.
She picks her nose and, horror of horrors, eats it. I guess our meal is taking too long.
They talk of football, so I guess I’ll pretend I don’t exist.
How did he manage to get food on his shirt when we haven’t even eaten yet?
He mentions Disneyland in Shanghai (pronouncing it Shayng-hai) and says that they should go.
I interject, ‘It’s actually in Hong Kong’ but no one is hearing me this morning.
I’ve ordered an egg white omelette with spinach, caramelized onions, and mushrooms. Different from my normal short stack blueberry buckwheat pancakes with fruit bowl.
He has ordered a giant mug of hot chocolate with whipped cream.
Good, because he is a tiny little shrimp.
Today’s poem/quote comes from Franz Kafka:
You need not leave your room. Remain sitting at your table and listen. You need not even listen, simply wait, just learn to become quiet, and still, and solitary. The world will freely offer itself to you to be unmasked. It has no choice; it will roll in ecstasy at your feet.’
I love this quote because it reminds me of what it means to be a write. We are not required to sit down with thousands of ideas at the ready, we must only be open to noticing. If we are open enough, still enough, ready enough, we will find the details march right up to us, or sail past us on the wind of a subway car, or float through our eardrums in the voice of a passerby. Our brains will hold these details because we are ready. Our minds will create pictures. Our fingers will tingle with possibility, as if each letter were vying to burst through each fingertip first.
Sometimes I want to wrap myself in words
let their soft edges cushion me
let their angles support me
their curves cradle my head, my arms, my body
edges urging me forward
‘write!’ they say, poking at my bones
a rather handsome Italian poet from the early twentieth century said,
“The only joy in the world is to begin.”
Now, I’m not sure I believe that beginnings are the only joy, but I can attest, as I am sure you also can, to the joy that comes from starting afresh and casting aside that which does not serve you. One such beginning is realising that you are no longer a slave to the ideas of convention and culture and common following. What merit lies in following the path of the masses when it does not call to you?
In his poem, ‘And then we cowards,’ Pavese calls us to be brave and strike out on our journeys:
“No more losing ourselveson the path by the river-no longer slaves, we knewwe were alone and alive.”