a long drive
way into the trees,
so high the sky
is barely visible
until the break in between.
the stream trickling
under the paved bridge
to an open body of aqua,
fresh, rocky water.
a quick glimpse of the scene
before you speed by
and the forest looks like a blurry photo,
not enough time to check if the
river was running dry,
but enough to recognize
it was flowing fine.
at first glance.
at first probe.
at first inquisition.
the passenger’s seat.
you know what you know because:
someone before you
taught, paved, led, dreamed.
is it still “giving up”
if the choice is made
with good intention?
hands clasped in prayer,
right at the heart.
innocence and religious,
hoping something greater is listening,
somewhere above us,
hidden in the pink-grey clouds
at golden hour.
holding an opal crystal,
tracing a bracelet,
repeating an affirmation,
talking to the one you lost too soon.
whether organized or personalized,
hope is defined by the hopeful,
dreams by the dreamer
and wishes by the wishful.
alive, dead or in-between.
how do you become confident in a name?
one you were assigned at birth?
how do you allow it to roll off your tongue.
without the fear of how others
will automatically perceive you?
i don’t know what that’s like.
crying doesn’t make me a sissy,
it just makes you uncomfortable.
when you should be addressing my upset,
you shame my actions, instead.
a dark room,
morning light through the skylight.
branches peaking, brittle and still,
it smells like muffins and old bookcases.
a cobweb dangles from the highest point on the chandelier,
the free-standing coat rack could be from a movie.
a bed and breakfast, small town dreaming.
i thought i wouldn’t get through you.
i was stuck at the start, in a pool of hot
tub water, stuck to one of those water jets.
you were attacking me —
or was i letting other people do that?
my friends said, “your eyes are dark,”
and, “i’ve never seen you this low.”
i was drowning in that pool of hot water,
i was stuck there,
dreading the air free from my bed.
i learned: i have to be strategic
about what i give myself to.
i love so hard and so deep that
when i’m forced to give something up,
i crack more than a broken joint.
i learned: i define, “career,”
and my job doesn’t define me.
i learned: i can still do good and do well,
without being hollowed in hell,
surrounded by people who won’t lift me up,
who will tell me i’m failing, only because
it will guarantee them the raise
and me: the same job with bad pay.
i learned: you’re just a year and you aren’t forever,
but with lessons
and journeys uncovered.
spending money and time
on a white gold never-ending circle,
a symbol of everlasting eternity,
wrapped around the finger
most connected to the heart,
should not be a one-sided
purchase or decision,
regardless of how big the diamond.
once, a boy told our classmates we had done things we hadn’t
because i broke up with him.
he said i was good with my tongue;
though my tongue had never touched him
or his greasy braces.
we “dated” for a few weeks; i don’t count it.
when his lies didn’t catch on as fast as they could’ve,
he started telling people things that were really true:
“she has hairy arms. really hairy arms.”
someone pushed up the left arm of my green fleece uniform sweater
and said, “woah, he’s right.”
i waxed my arms for a long time,
naired them and scarred them,
got grounded for making the house smell like chemicals;
never wore t-shirts, either.
do you see what happens when we automatically
give boys more power?