Monthly Archives: April 2017

A Little Obsessive Compulsive (Revised)

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Preventing a car accident is easy:

 

Be sure to wipe your hands on your jeans

before touching the steering wheel.

Set the radio’s volume to an even number.

Turn on the CD player and keep

“Hell’s Bells”

on repeat while on the bridge or interstate.

Count to ten.

(Repeat when necessary).

Keep gum in the cup holder for good luck

good behavior,

good outcome,

but don’t touch it until you’re safe at home again.

 

-None of this makes sense.

-No. But it’s been working. So just in case….

The Sitcom Wife

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I was nice to my husband that day,

trying to be what seemed so easy for women

on black and white and Pinterest.

 

I listened to my medication, then organized my head.

Cleaned the car. Folded laundry. Scrubbed

the bathtub with bleach until my fingers grew angry

red from purification. Went to Rouses and actually

bought the stuff he liked (and needed). Then placed

the keys on a hook instead of the fridge (again).

 

…Then the sharp edge of an open cabinet

door dug deep into my scalp as I turned

around and realized I was clumsy and he had a point.

The top of my head turned blood cold

as I  proved my tolerance.

But embarrassment lasts longer than pain.

 

I wouldn’t have had to tell you (or him) this incident,

but a headache stretched into its third day.

I tried to be casual: Just “I bumped

my head in the kitchen on Sunday. ”

 

He wasn’t: “Today is Tuesday…and the first time

I’m hearing about this.”

 

Even after urgent care, I was still casual:

“It’s just a contusion.”

 

It was  now his turn to be nice.

He spooned red beans and rice into a bowl

at home and listened to my pain killer

induced rambling as he held my head in his lap.

 

I think I apologized before falling asleep,

explaining that I can be a traditional wife,

or at least a normal one–just bad at it.

But the drama was dying down, so he could say ,

“Nah. You keep it interesting around here.”

Podiatry (continued)

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I look at the scars that healed

on my legs and feet,

extremities that will one day

take the brunt of lectures from a podiatrist.

 

What abuse story will best explain their condition?

During elementary school recess,

lunch ladies used to like watching me

outrun boys in a jumper dress, knee socks

and navy blue ribbons at the end of my pigtails.

I was pushed from behind in second grade,

sent skidding on gritty concrete

until it tore off all the top

layer of skin on my knees. When mamma

saw me in the front office

with  band-aids and a zip-loc bag of ice,

all she told me was, “You really need to be a lady.”

 

They also remember warnings: “You know, if you

get hurt, we can’t afford to take you

to the hospital!” She meant it after I twisted

my ankle on a friend’s trampoline when I was nine

and she  didn’t even have to ask why

I limped between hiccuped sobs because, “I knew it.”

The right foot still spasms on days I wake up

to winter cold, or when I flashback

to the blackout pain (right now, for instance).

 

Did I forget to tell my husband

about the Fourth of July when I got this

almond-shaped scar right below my left knee?

Just a slight tap from the edge of a dropped

iron can, almost immediately, make skin

rise and blister like a flour pita on the stovetop.

The sting  grabbed me by surprise each time

I tried to move  forward.

Not even aloe vera could remove the past fully.

 

Or–should I tell a doctor every time I stubbed

my toe, even my entire foot, against the edge

of a chair, dresser, bed, nightstand,

the pain leaving me to grasp at stars and air?

Or the second time I twisted my ankle

while climbing (falling) out of a tree?

How about  rookie razor cuts when I first started

shaving in the bathtub? I need to say I first started wearing

high heels when I was twelve, and my husband constantly

asks me why do I walk so hard, slamming my heels

on pavement to demand power in a short stature,

and repeats “that’s why you’re always in pain.”

 

No, I need to tell them what really happened

on the morning of Memorial Day.

I was young enough to think I didn’t need to stretch

before running down a tree lined trail and I didn’t need

to put ice on the pulled muscles afterwards. Four years

later is leaving regrets; there are bruised shadows

under the ankle whether or not I wake up and resort

to a tiptoed limp. If what is said is true,

how you’re young  until muscle

and bones remind you to slow down,

the regrets will deepen with age.

 

I’m thinking about the consequences now, what

to tell a doctor one day as I press a towel-wrapped

ice cube into the arch and bite my bottom lip. I don’t

remember slipping on water that seeped under

the front door as I hurried to leave this morning,

and life happened too fast when I slammed against

the hard wood trunk.

My husband cradled me like a child as I screamed

without a tear, but I can’t remember pain. Only the hours

can tell me why the right foot–

the same one to twist on a trampoline–is swollen,

calling me with distress signals.

 

It might be time to finally get over mamma’s

reluctance of doctors and talk

endlessly before it’s too late to be pain-free. Or–

Epson salt is waiting under the bathroom sink,

I’m young and stupid

and I worship time that’ll never run out.

 

Note: Complete! But needs a few revisions. 

 

 

 

 

Spirituals on Easter Sunday.

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She was singing Take me to the Water…

 

Yes. Take me to the water

with a voice made of glass.

Raise the goosebumps on my forearms,

while leading me to some new resurrection.

 

The older ladies in silk dresses and straw hats

raised theirs heads above closed eyes

to catch every echo starting from the roots,

Wiped the holy splash and sweat rolling off

the scalp

 

Was nineteen (or even earlier),

the last time before I turned

drowsy and uninspired as every reading

turned to just ink stains? I had forgotten

to use four walls, stained glass

windows and incense to meditate

for deeper answers still

untouchable  to the wise.

 

It’s been a week since the revival.

I’m  searching inside the new dream I entered

after slumber, but what’s seen and unseen

are talking. Even silence is leaving

a memory for the baptized.

 

Anniversary (Work in Progress)

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I’ve been listening to our neighbors pack up to leave as I stir to keep the rice from burning.

What did they find out

in the time between our wedding

and one year later? Did we interrupt

their silence on the other side of the wall,

listened to usual moving day chatter

about the thrift store table,

soap dishes,

and items we hoarded for a month?

The clink of utensils on china as we spooned our first Sunday meal

seeped through the walls with the savory aroma as we sat down to

meat loaf (your favorite)

mashed potatoes,

and corn I knew you wouldn’t touch.

 

Did they ever pass us by on the street or the mall,

catch a glimpse of our courtship, then reminisce?

Like us, they are married too, so they probably nod

patiently as we balance grocery bags on the edge

of bursting, knowing the debates before us

(does ketchup go in the pantry? The fridge?).

It’s the little things that creep into the honeymoon

phase as we notice the fine creases in our upbringing

like the way he calls for a washcloth before a shower,

and I simply call it a “small towel”.

Or how he wakes up early while I savor the sleep in

on a day off.

Yes, the little differences, but

Did they understand how the night and day

of  you and me

completed the bricks

windows

before our first key,

threshold?

 

I’m hearing a voice rise for someone in another room. I’m opening the oven to check on the progress of our evening plans.

How soon before they realized we were night owls,

hearing entwined laughter,

the glow of a TV screen at 1 am,

before submissions to sleepy kisses

and a fluid embrace?

We found how to appreciate quiet

after our entry level grind,

let tourists have Bourbon Street

as we sank together on the couch,

then soak in another molasses Sunday.

 

They are hauling furniture to the moving van. I’m setting

the table as the meatloaf cools.

Soon, it will be just me and you again,

left to discover more of the post-altar underground,

daytime adult business,

and drowsy eyes, legs entwined  at the orange-pink

view once dusk sets in.

Creating a unit

 

 

 

Well

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I think about how easy it would be to stop trying,

throw the orange vial in a junk drawer and forget

about keeping a job,

getting a master’s

waking up to clean the house

comb my hair,

make eye contact

and speak “well” with a stranger.

 

It was easy until I met you. It’s getting harder

to disappoint when you’re watching.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Social Anxiety Part II

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I am not too afraid
Of rejection. In fact, I’ve learned
to wait for it. It’s easy;

  1. just wait for the adrenaline,
  2. take deep breaths so you don’t choke,
  3. count to pace the heart
  4. then try not to flinch,
  5. while bracing for impact.

But when you eagerly
Invite me, it’s like
this poem, returned to me
with too many red lines across whole
sentences: what to do with this
now?

And what to do with you,
now that you’ve changed the script?