Adventure, body, Fitness, Poetry, Relationships

Lacing Into

May 24, 2013

He twines black ribbon around his wrist. With a yellow strand, I mirror him. Weave slips around the thumb and passes through open channels between fingers stretched wide. Twice around and across, the dressing lays itself over the bumps of knuckles where once we counted days of the month. He is finished with both of his before I am even halfway around the first. His fingers turn my hand and graze my left palm just before mummifying its living flesh beneath warped satin dressing.

Continue reading “Lacing Into”

Children, Choices, Love, Poetry, Relationships, spirit

Not a Bit Tamed, Untranslatable

Marlina Vera Couples


“Would you rather,” he asks me, “never be able to use a public library? Or lose the dog forever?”

“The library,” I say. As long as they exist for everyone else. I could live without them. Besides, my friends could bring me books.”

“Would you rather,” he asks me, “never be able to read a book again? Or lose the dog forever?”

“The dog,” I say. “If she’s going to a good home, I would miss her terribly but she’d be okay.”

“Would you rather,” he asks me, “never be able to read a book again? Or the dog dies?”

“Neither,” I say.

“You have to choose,” he tells me.

“No, I don’t.”

I reject the false choice. No situation in this world demands such a splitting. I claim it all. My love is vast. Like Whitman, I contain multitudes.

Continue reading “Not a Bit Tamed, Untranslatable”

Letting Go, Love, Relationships

My Shimmering Lovely

Today is a resting time, and my heart goes off in search of itself. If an anguish still clutches me, it’s when I feel this impalpable moment slip through my fingers like quicksilver… At the moment, my whole kingdom is of this world. This sun and these shadows, this warmth and this cold rising from the depths of the air: why wonder if something is dying or if men suffer, since everything is written on this window where the sun sheds its plenty as a greeting to my pity?


Albert Camus, Lyrical and Critical Essays

Heartache is a bitter decadence, the dark chocolate of emotions. Indulgence means savoring the long, slow melt.

Tonight, I wallow.  Continue reading “My Shimmering Lovely”

Love, Relationships, Things I Can

11. Things I Can Tell: The Other Story

The phone pings. Almost there. Come out and help.

He pushes his bare feet into sneakers and doesn’t bother to tie them. Outside, she pulls past in her father’s SUV, shoots a U in the street, and comes to a stop at the curb. The afternoon is warmer than it should be. The last crusted mounds of snow cling to the shadows under the eaves. Everything else is soft again. Somewhere close, a bird sings and sings.

“Help with what?” He calls. She steps out and goes around back to open the hatch. He squishes across the grass and down the driveway. Smirking a little out of the side of her face, she leans towards him without turning. She is busy shoving something sideways in the cargo area. He kisses the exposed cheek.

Inside the car, blue and brown plaid cushions flop forward. She tugs too hard at a wooden foot and one of the pillows escapes. He grabs it before it hits the damp street. The upholstered monstrosity is jammed up against the ceiling of the car. He stuffs the cushion in by the window and fits his hands around the back. She urges the front feet forward. It twists just enough and slides out in one smooth motion.

They stand there together holding the two ends of the chair and glance at each other. She cracks a grin. He begins walking backward up the driveway and she wobbles along.

“You bought me a chair?”

“No,” she huffs. “Hold on.” She sets down her end, adjusts her grip, and picks it back up. “I bought me a chair.”

“Shouldn’t I be meeting you at your house to do this, then?”

It is too wide for the door when they go through straight. They slow, back up, tilt the top. He guides it at an angle. The bottom corner catches on the door frame. He pulls without realizing it’s caught and she lets out a little yelp. The wooden foot has gashed the molding.

“Oh gosh, I’m sorry.”

He laughs. “You should be.” He steps over a pile of shoes and nudges aside a plastic bin of sports gear. The lid topples off and he almost slips on it. “You’ve comprised the integrity of this meticulously maintained home.” Once inside, they set the chair down in the narrow foyer. Reaching around, he pulls her into to the corner where he’s pinned and then folds her into a hug. Even though the sky has been clear, her hair smells like rain. “I’m on strike until you give me a clue. Am I storing this thing for you? What’s the deal?”

She leans back a little and warms her fingers on his bristled cheeks. She looks at him. “Hi,” she says.

He grins. “Hi.”

“Come here,” she says as she breaks free. She clambers over the chair and up the stairs. At the end of the hall, she clicks on the light to his room. The cat leaps up from a pile of laundry and darts past their legs. “It’s only me, dingbat,” she hollers. She walks around to the far side of his bed and pushes at the mattress. It scoots a few inches closer to the door. The she twists open the blinds on the small window behind her and muddy February light trickles into the room.

The corner breathes wider as she opens her arms into it.

“Here,” she says.

“You bought a chair for my room.”

“Yeah. But also, I bought a chair for my room.”

He shakes his head. Smiling but only halfway.

“This,” she says. She traces the small corner, its emptiness around her, with her hands. “This is my room.”

“And your chair.”

She shrugs and her face slides into and back out of one of its funhouse distortions, quick as a blink. She glances down and touches her fingers to the windowsill. A draft chills the wooden lip. “A place to write,” she says quickly. She hasn’t looked back up. “ReStore had this sort of side table, too. It’s really small and I’d like to sand it down. You wouldn’t believe how good a deal –”

“That’s so presumptuous,” he says. Now she looks up and her eyes register this blow. But he smiles. “I like it. I like that you presume. I want you to.” He starts to step around and stops a few feet short of her. “Can I come in?”

She lifts her hand from the windowsill and laces her fingers together. “Sure,” she says. “But take your shoes off. I just moved in and I want to keep things nice.”

He steps beside her and they stand leaning into each other, gazing out at the room. “It’s cozy in here,” he says.

“Isn’t it the perfect size for me? It took me a long time to find just the right place.”

His hand is on the small of her back. He feels her arch her spine into his touch. “How long do you think you’ll stay?”

She turns to to look up at him. His glasses are cocked a little on his nose and she straightens them. “The landlord hasn’t asked for a long-term lease. He’s letting me do this month-to-month.”

“He sounds like an idiot.”

“Oh, he is. But he’s good with a wrench.” She drops her voice. “Also, he’s sexy as shit.”

He groans and bends her back to kiss her once, hard. Then, into her hair, he whispers, “That is one ugly chair.”

She laughs and pulls away. “Well, good thing it’s not yours.”

“You’re crazy.” He takes her hand and leads her towards the hall. “Let’s see if we can make that monster fit.”


Poetry, Relationships


Before the tip even reaches
the scrap he’s set on the bar,
the pencil hums
a Cartesian chord
like a tuning fork
loose in his grip and streaks
two thick axes
across the plane. Pivoting now
at the corners, the silver
gray lead cuts those dicey
little circles
with their arrows
and Ts that come to mean
in the abstract.

is a scatterplot at odds with offers,
men churning up a quixotic cloud
that claims a rarified horizon
well beyond
the gals who
know in their bones
the laws of gravity
and let their feet dance along
the trendline
until closing time.

Living in the Moment, Love, Poetry

Struck, Cored

I cut my fingers
raw on you. Deep trench in the
soft tissue, I wince and fight
the urge to pull back, press instead
into the resonant sinew, press
on. It never toughens
or it has not yet
despite callous
feint and cool. It is still inflamed
in those places. Strings
bite. You don’t
pull back so I won’t.
We make this chord.
It is the first one, the only one
Now, the only one
two three notes to twine this way
ever. This stroke is all
we’ve got. I with you, we lay
ourselves bare against fret
and neck, stay there, suck teeth,
let it sting. Hear the thrum
on vein, the way sound
is wave swelling up
from grain and hollow
belly driving me against you,
plunging us
into us.

Love, Poetry, Reading

Book Lovers

Each with his favored arm
made his foray
scorning confections and only sometimes opening a hand
dusted with the crushed stamen
of a hothouse orchid. Walt came bearing small sprouts
at least before his straight-up offer of crotch and vine
while against my throat, Edgar licked
glossed feather. I choked down Eliot’s ragged claws and talk
of Michelangelo, glancing against the vorpal snicker
Carroll carried unsheathed. The graze bared
blood beat and Baldwin fire going the way I dared not ache.
I had barely found my feet and certainly not my sense
when, whispering, Kazuo led me to a corner of the room
I’d never seen and there, Salman with a slow grin
esta-esta-estuttered open his voice in song.

Continue reading “Book Lovers”

Love, Music, Poetry

4:50 pm, Pink Floyd

Tulips bend to paint a corner of Washington
Circle with candy tongues
tied, twisted police tape slaps at a strutting
breeze, a whir of wheels, skin and spandex sheathing
viscera pulsing femur tibia and tucked wing of
earthbound flight. A checkered cap tops
the pile on a table by an escalator
ringing like a miscalibrated telephone, unheeded
warning every third or fifth body rushing
up to open air, no one turning. Back
after back in suit jacket, wilting and shedding
finally revealing damp shoulder, furred forearm
freed from cuff. Lime-green
chrome and finned convertible
on oversized whitewalls takes the corner,
watering eyes and turning heads.

Delayed train, detour, an extra mile
on foot west, sundog flares against the curved city
bus merging with a hiss. I thought I knew
the way, thought I’d thought of every
contingency but I never imagined him
in the everything
grazing the tips of my fingers, him
in the everything holding me fast

To these teeming streets. Nothing to compare
to this belay. No metaphor, no halo
of light, no vapor trail threading sky
is anything like the music
making me skate an inch
at least above the skin of the planet
and so it should come as no surprise
(except that’s exactly what it does) to find
I learn to fly
the instant I give up



To the woman who has signed up for a single-parent dating seminar because she wants to figure out how to get things right, he says, “It’s like boxing.” Then he laughs and apologizes. To a runner, the metaphor is endurance. To a world traveler, maps and foreign tongues. To a boxer? The next match.

“Sure, hear them out,” he says. “You can get good advice from everywhere. ‘Do it this way. Try that.’All of it probably works.” He halfway smiles. “My trainer teaches me things.” Here, he hunches his shoulders just a fraction and brings his loose fists up to shade his face. “’Use your legs like this, lean like this.’” He shrugs and his hands open like wings. One alights on his thigh hidden just below the table. “My legs might be just a little bit longer. Maybe I have to lean differently. I need to find that out.” Now he lifts his palms and placates an invisible onslaught. Of fists? Advice? Skepticism? “You just have to find your own balance. Your balance.”

The others at the table pause and let this settle in. The only Right is boxing from within your own skin. Continue reading “Featherweight”


Happy 100 Days: 87

We swipe the last of the paratha across the bottom of the silver dish. This was something new, Chicken Kadai. (“How was it?” “Oh,it was kadai for!”) He pours the final splash of house white from the half carafe into my glass and then his. We are re-visiting a story that he knows but we rarely discuss. As happens when we are liking each other again, he finds a way to phrase the questions no one else would dare ask and I find ways to open doors with my answers. We are not the last to occupy a table in the restaurant. The other couple has only just started their entree, but still, the servers have long since ceased re-filling our water, so we tumble out into the brisk night.
“Your call,” he says. “Someplace for another drink?”
I consider this. It is enticing, 9:30 on a Saturday night. Cars whoosh along the boulevard. Colored lights and warm chatter invite from somewhere just around the bend. I decide to reel in the vision of what comes after this in-between. “No,” I say. “We’ll save a few bucks, like we promised. If we want a drink, we’ll buy a six-pack. Stay in. Finish this conversation under a blanket on the couch.”
“Let’s go.”
In the store, we wheel the cart past the produce, past the bakery. He stops to squeeze a loaf of something dotted with pumpkin seeds. Then, he strokes another with a golden crust. “Like this,” he says, gazing at the gleam under the plastic sheath. “I want to get it like this. With that chewiness, you know?” We adopted a sourdough starter months ago. He is a much better father than I had expected.
I consider the cookies. He asks me if I want a treat, knowing I do.
“Let’s make some,” I say. “You have baking soda, right? Vanilla?” He nods. It has been too long since I have been in his kitchen. I used to know, but then there was the distance. He is out of butter now. He pauses at the beer and I leave him to it, heading on down to the dairy fridge. He is trying to watch his cholesterol, and the array of options is dizzying.
He approaches. “Country Crock?”
“I don’t think you can use it. See?” I point to the side of the margarine. “Not suitable for baking.”
“But that’s the generic. It says it is 48% oil. This one is 39%.”
I hold them up next to each other and try to puzzle through the fine print. “I don’t think a lower oil content is better for baking. I think it’s worse because it is more water. Maybe?”
Then he is holding up butter to compare. I find a butter blend, then two kinds of Smart Balance, one with canola oil and one with olive. We are trying to measure unknown quantities, the saturated fat in this one against the moisture content of that one. We juggle six different tubs. The poor butter sits alone to the side, denied entry but still on display just to advertise its failings. Its truth, its singular purity, is irrelevant in this contest.
“Fuck it,” he says. He dumps all but one of the tubs aside. The survivor lands with a thunk it in the basket.
We wheel out through the deserted produce section, grabbing a bunch of bananas on the way. He stops by the broccoli. “What is this?” He picks up a conical, fractal-studded oddity in sea-foam green. It is clearly brassica, but beyond that, it is a mystery. I believe I knew the name once but can’t call it up. “Romanesco,” he tells me. I realize I was imagining pieces never placed.
“What would someone do with it?”
“I don’t have any idea,” I say.
“Should we buy one and find out?” He digs around, finding the perfect one while I create a bouquet from a leggy artichoke, a rhubarb stalk, a yellow zucchini, and a single loose carrot. I tell him if we ever get married, this is what I want to carry down the aisle.
“You’re beautiful,” he says, laughing. He folds the romanesco into a plastic bag and places it in the cart.
Back at his place, I lose momentum for making cookies. I eat an unsatisfying square of Hershey’s chocolate instead. It is the only sweet in his kitchen, and it is waxy enough to keep me from coming back for seconds. He is made of stronger stuff than I am. Or maybe just different stuff. He opens a beer. We jabber on about important topics soon forgotten while he prepares the proof for tomorrow’s loaf. He realizes he is out of whole wheat flour. I remember that I am supposed to write something happy. I touch his back as he stirs white flour in. He never pours the discolored hootch off. He keeps it all in, everything unknown and alive, claiming “this is what gives it that flavor, you know?”
The sour whang lingers in the kitchen. In a nearby unit, neighbors bark at each other, their teary distress echoing at odd intervals against the balcony. That was us just last week. That was some other us a million years ago.