Basalt Forest

Assault, for us? Just a phase.
All kinds, occasionally, exhibit
attitudes and behavior
that drive their partner
to erupt.

Park ranger says:
“There once was a volcano here.
Lava flowed, in rivers,
across the wet substrate,
stamping a new path for life,
in the face of trauma.

It began from a single point
on a rock that jut out —
beyond the rain shadow,
and toward the humid
eastern United States.”

I hear:
It began from an impasse,
from our argument on the topic
of moss, how it either grows
on only the Northside,
or does not.

It began mostly dry,
but with enough steam,
to create the necessary reaction,
tension, and period of calm;
for the clay-rich soil
to build up, in layers.

First, came box spring,
then, mattress…
mattress pad…
fitted sheet…
me…
you…
the ground.

“As you can see, the trees
grew perpendicular to the ground,
but, eventually, took a sharp,
9o-degree turn.

Scientists can’t agree on why,
many believe it was natural
manipulation, by close-
fisted people,

others, by severe snowfall,
when they were still young;
the type that only hits
every once in a while.”

As you can see, she
grew up without a mother,
and with a cold stepmother,
but could play in the snow
for hours.

Therapists can’t agree on why,
many believe she’ll bounce back,
mistaking her persistence,
or resolute doggedness,
for grit.

Eventually, she came in,
where she thought was her part.
It is never your part to fix others.
Keep yourself warm first.

“Unfortunately, this is defined as
‘an endangered ecological community.’
By our estimates, it’s unreasonable
to think this is ‘just a phase.’

Between 30-50%
of the original occurrence
remains.
We should have started
to see change
in a matter
of days.”

What’s Your Type?

 

Type I knows where he is going.
His compass always reads true North.
He never fails
to adjust his readings
for the magnetic declination.
Still, he follows the stars, just in case;
to freedom from Nor’Easters, and heat
hotter than hatch chiles,
to where the mode temperature
is 75 degrees. Here, he is like
my father.
He never fails, and thanks God
for blessing him with natural talent.
He harbors conservative values,
which both serves and disserves
me.
He imagines me pregnant
with his second child,
from our second date,
and yet, second guesses
my experience of my body
as property.
He wants to own property
to build equity — for himself
and lead a rich, rewarding life.
He reaps reward from going it
alone; He wants to be alone
together.
He senses my insecure attachment
and takes advantage.
“Together forever,” whispered
between the sheets — my quick release.
Baby, Imma roll
until my wheels fall off.
His fatal flaw —
shameless love

for Eminem.


Type 2 is a perpetual manchild.
He makes dirty jokes,
and I blush.
He puts me the center
of his speculative fiction,
and I blush.
Of his universe, I am
the penultimate center,
after his capital “A”
Art.
He demands to be taken
seriously.
He demands to be Dom’d
by his Good Little Girl.
He makes a bad feminist of me.
He makes a good listener of me,
Reciting “The Raven,” hands
aloft — my perch.
He senses my desire to nest,
And takes advantage.
Nevermore, my Lenore,
will you stand at the shore,
watching the sunset.
You will float
on boughs of willow
that I twist up
with Photoshop.
There is Art in artificiality,
and also bad aftertaste.
I can taste his cigarettes
from the next room. Here, he is like
my father,
and I? — like a fish, I drag
my belly across the shore
on the off-chance
I will find a puddle
reflecting His bright light.


Type 3 speaks Spanish.
He is a global citizen and voluntour.
He says “Colombia changed my life,”
and I do not call bullshit.
He is the type to ride a bull,
to ride into thrashing wind
on his single-speed bicycle.
I saw him buck a tree once,
and never wanted to fuck
someone so badly.
His arms, lean and thin
pinned me to the trunk
of his car, which is the type,
I imagine us hopping into.
His Delorean transports us
back to a future where
simple living is anything
but alien.
He speaks in future tense
and first-person singular.
I can not tell if he is interested
in monogomany.
This scares the shit out of me,
as does leaving my sacred objects
on the edge of Route 66.
He senses that I am possessive,
and takes advantage.
He tucks found wildflowers
behind my ears, and holds
his chin to them, like buttercups.
Everything yellow is yours.
He only wears earth tones.
Still, I wear bright makeup
for myself.
He hates it, yet shows nothing
but respect. Here, he is unlike
my father — unlike anyone
who has loved me
yet.

I Know Why the Grass is Green

 

When we first met, you were fifty-three,
And not yet retired from ploughing;
Still, your itch to get out was stronger
Than the bite of briers or holly,
And the 2-for-1 gloves strong enough.

Called in from the garden, you sank
Into the sofa, a green velour piece
That needed no breaking in, steeped
As it was in smoke and grit;
You immediately felt at home.

Beside your son, stoicism failed.
You experienced his joy and purpose
As one, loving me like it was 1969,
Back when pastels were for babies,
And also for everyone else.

Once held, I met your gaze, hoping
To uncover something borrowed,
Myself reflected in your blue,
And found proof that eye color
Can skip a generation, or two.

My other inheritances include:
Your quietude in conversation,
How you walked the periphery
Of the pool, before jumping in
Good humor to ripple the room.

Your special consideration of lilies
And Queen Anne’s lace,
How you saw her in everything
That she would have loved,
And each time fell to pieces.

Your indelible softness.
How you mellowed with age,
They say, like Jell-O, or a plum
In the sun – a prune? Wrinkled,
Yes, but stronger for it.

When we last met, you were seventy-three,
And not yet retired from ploughing.

Imperfect Produce

Late August, given heavy rain and sun
For a full week, it is the moldy strawberry
At the bottom of the basket. Full of beans,
I pick a peck more, and jump. Inside,
There is a moth developing, a roly poly
Now, and brown, but aspiring to gray,
If only for a few days, at summer’s
End, when the first cool, but frostless
Night ushers in the red and purple
And blackened fruit, which one (?)
Should not eat. I am not one.

They tell me to be she, who sheds
Her coat, and waits for the foliage
to turn yellow; I wait outside —
A balding hill of potatoes, turned
Green, through osmosis (?)
Of the clippings on this murder
Of crows. Interrogate them
Regarding the spots and rot, beg:
“What is going on with my garden?”
Roots and shoots and leaves, but
No children, excepting/accepting
Those born still or imperfect.
“Am I too old?”

At twenty-five, one should be quiet
About her fears of impotence and death.
I feel that I am not one, but two times,
And change. I change the way my hands
Look: she has become unstuck in time is
Of the essence: a term used in Business,
Real Estate, and Agriculture, namely
In the period between IUD removal
And the encroachment of invasives.
Is seven years enough to determine
how many rows : how many roses
will produce the best returns?

Return me to childhood, in early September
When the next season was growing season,
And, so too, the next and next;
When my one-track mind could focus
On the present, and the presents
That I might open on my birthday;
🎶 Happy Last Day of Summer 🎶
When I could tune out their cracking
Corn, and care for nothing, but
Shortcake, with strawberries and
Cream. It would seem so strange,
Life, but a dream.

Independence Day

There is no better occasion to begin Facing Codependence:
What It Is, Where It Comes From, How It Sabotages Our Lives

Than the celebration of our country’s Independence Day,

For which we are supposed to be endlessly grateful;
Because the outside world is an innately hostile place,
In which there are always forces at work
Seeking to exploit and control.

If I were not so codependent, I might be able to see
That I am so afraid, because of what my culture did to me;
But, instead, I search inside, for the trigger happy child,
Who would rather poke her own eyes out,

Than have him follow while she leads.
There, I find a will to change, and eyes enough to read;
The path will show up by itself.

I highlight the passages that occur in between
What I have been needing to hear |
What I have been wanting to say,
In pink,
Because, unlike red, it poses no risk of flame,
Of igniting passion, rage, madness, or whatever
They are calling women’s feelings these days.

Resentment is holding on to anger at someone,
Clinging to a need to have the person hurt
To make up for the suffering [I think]
He has caused me. The person I resent
Becomes my Higher Power
As I think obsessively
About what he did to me.”

How do I disentangle myself from this mess
[Without waking him up] ?

“Caring does not mean assuming ownership
Of the other’s behavior or following the path
That they have chosen for themselves.
You need to belong to yourself,
and let others belong to themselves, too.”

Step 1: Let him sleep, while I get things done.
Step 2: Find the polish that will match my shoes.
Step 3: Scuff until my heart’s content. Follow the beat
Of my own two feet. Be frantic. Be fun. Be free.  

This Land is Our Land

How many watches had it been,
when I first caught sight of Paradise?

Seven – or is that the first digit
to come to mind?

Regardless, I would have kept kissing the dry land,
until it soaked in my sins,
had you not been
standing at my bower,
with tape
and parrot flowers.

The ship was splintered,
worse that any storm
or winter could do;
my lips, too.

Yet, I was fixed

on the mountains in the distance,
skirted in Doug Fir forest,
and decked with heavy fruits
(pear, apple, persimmon,
perpetually in season),
suspended in mist.

Never had I encountered a landscape,
as hard as it was soft,
particularly at the edges,
where rocky bluffs
terminate to sand,
and primrose grows
in mats that prick,
rather than provide respite
for the sick.

Yet, I was fixed

of the pain I had long-held,
from believing myself unhomeable
outside of childhood.

Or, perhaps, restored

to original condition:
an only daughter of an only parent,
(for which the treatment is
undivided affection
and absolute understanding).

How many men had it been,
when I first washed up on Paradise?

Seven – or is that the first digit
to come to mind?

Regardless, I would have kept gripping the shore,
until I was born into safety,
and then trained out of it again,
had you not offered more:

Your hand, a surrogate for my father.
Your land, for my Fatherland.

 

Walking in the Rain

On a persistent basis,
it will penetrate
your psychology,
making water come
up from the ground,
down from the sky,
and side to side,
at the same time.

As if shaken,
by an unseen hand,
your eyes will twinkle,
and then fade to coal,
your arms will swing out,
into larger and larger circles,
and then snap, as if twigs.

Hello, snowwoman.
You are hotter
than you are meant to be.

Are you sweating
out a fever
or succumbing
to Spring?

Either way,
take care
to know
you are no more
contained to land.

When a mind becomes
flooded with thoughts
outside the body,
the ground beneath
your feet, themselves,
their wet shoes and socks,
their toes united
in commiseration;
they all fall down.

Once all ice is melted,
and run off to the seas,
take pride
to know
you helped reshape
the continents.

Shorelines
as round as your face,
as square as your elbow,
as it hailed a bus
some million years ago.

Answer “Yes,”
to one or more of the following questions,
and you may be a martyr:

Do you feel overburdened, overwhelmed, and physically exhausted, most of the time?
Do you feel underappreciated for all that you do?
Is your baggage heavier than everyone else?

You may be a martyr
or, otherwise, one
who has had enough
of walking for today,
and needs to collect
her thoughts,
lest she forget
that no one has yet
drowned by sweat
or a walk in the rain.

 

 

Signs

When the pencil skirt fits,
but doesn’t sit
at the hips,
as does the cyclist,
who would rather
be caught dead
than with a bulge,
even if it’s just
an extra bunch
of fabric;
and so she walks,
in measured steps,
passing where
the sidewalk ends,
and then, drops off
into dirt,
until the final block,
where precision goes
to posture,
and so go the toes
– over the lip –
and then,
the heals,
and then,
one palm,
one knee,
and the
stack of crepes
planned to be
for everyone.

When the rice is simmering,
and asks for stirring,
just occasionally,
and so she drops
the wooden spoon,
takes up the sword,
and decides,
right then,
and there,
to prepare
kimchi
for winter,
which is yet
months away,
unlike the hand
on the timer,
which begets
a ten-second
countdown,
“Oh shit,”
and the other
on the blade,
“Oh shit,”
there is
salt
in a wound,
and it is time to move
back to the pot,
with rice searing
to its bottom.

When the appetite,
stirs the night,
she slips
to the cupboard,
looks in,
up, top,
middle,
bottom,
but sees nothing
with nearsighted eyes,
which is why,
her past self
put out
the one-half
cocoa-carob
energy bar,
on the counter,
where apparently
it is heir apparent
for ants play,
because something
tastes like
plus two grams
of protein,
and feels like
soda,
“Fizz,
boom,
pop!”
on her tongue.

When she arrives, at last,
not merely late
but also hungry,
and asking
for further
accommodation,
like a band aid,
a courtesy call,
a chance to sit,
it might be
a sign of immaturity,
or being irresponsible,
or at the end
of a misguided hike,
but more likely,
of the universal struggle,
of learning to live
outside the bubble,
where there
are new types
of pressure,
on the air,
to focus
on marks
in the floor,
to tune out
the sink of dirty dishes,
empty the mind,
and then,
get back to work.

Natural Interruptions

When the Old Man fell,
it interrupted all scheduled programs,
including Britney’s 10th birthday party,
where I was one minute feeling,
to pin the tail on a donkey,
and then waiting,

to hear the sound
of a pin
falling.

Falling,
like ashes,
ashes
from the sky
in Oregon.

Fifteen years later,
children circle around me,
as if I were campfire,
to tell stories of their favorite hikes,
as if they happened yesterday.

I circle around what happened yesterday.

“Climate-Change-Fueled Wildfires
Pollute the Air, Make People Sick.
74 Acres, and Counting, Burning.”

The air thickens.

Upwards, the sky is gone.
We, too, are clouded
by emotion – Pride
in place, Resolve.

Quietly, I close my eyes.
I try to access
My Place,
My Trail,
My Childhood

interrupted, as they may be
by nature,
(the freeze and thaw)
and by choices
(to leave,

to have adventure,
to participate in activities
that exacerbate
the change).

These may have occurred
several times per year,
until the breaking point,
or in one dramatic season;
but, what difference does it make?

I have stopped trying,
to look through smoke,
to find the answer to:
“What is really happening?”
or even forecast
through the weekend.

Instead, I navigate
with the nose,
toward a little bit of sense,

smelling
for what the present
has to offer,
by way of remembrance.

When the Old Man fell,
it fell on our plates,
of pizza and cake.
It stopped Britney’s mom
from slicing.
Leaving just enough
for one slice per child

– no seconds for anyone –

except I,
who grabbed two slices of pizza,
and two slices of cake,
because I was afraid.