Poem: “The Heart is No Minotaur”

Something a bit short today, a blurb from one of my trying-to-sleep, must-write-this-down-before-I-forget-it writing sessions….

*

Sit with me long enough,
in the middle of the labyrinth,

your body all the way open,
and I will come to you, 

lay my head and horns in your lap,
rest with you on the grass,

nothing to slay or be slain.
Yours, for life.

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Circumference

If I love myself,
accept myself,
own myself,
what would you say?

You were angry.
I was that landslide pillar
Stevie Nicks sang about.
Were you afraid of changing?
You didn’t want me to grow up,
always under your green thumb,
rotting away.

Did you love me so much—
want to do right by me so bad—
that it turned into wrong?

I would have loved you all my life
If you had let me live my life
Instead of yours.

I can’t fix you. I don’t know what else to say.
Mother, you always told me
to mind my own business.
How I wish you’d minded yours.
You didn’t need me in order to be whole.
We both could have stood on our own,
with smooth, rounded edges,
the whole circumference of us,
not jagged slivers, alone.

I must feed my own soul now,
fill my hands with corn, berries,
peaches, fresh and alive.

Even now, when you are dead,
you must still save yourself.
I can only give you love.
The rest is
up to you.

So Broad, So Vast

No Story’s ever finished. Even the Big Bang will live
for eternity: expand, collapse, explode again
and again and again. The original Mystery,

that long chain of Cause and Effect—
wells fed by rivers, fed by lakes, fed by glaciers,
fed by snow and rain and the water in our breath.

The more I learn about the Universe,
the closer I feel to every All there is, was,
will ever be—like neighbors in tenement houses

calling to each other from open windows,
pulling laundry off the lines strung between,
music rising from the alleyways

as we walk across streets to front stoops
to dance a little, share lemonade,
closer than we think, closer than we know.

Revamp

I’m sorry for my long absence from this blog (almost a year–yikes!). Family, illness, work have drawn me away from posting here. I’m doing some revamping of the blog, with a goal of posting more of my poems here–old poems, new poems, snippets and raw drafts, etc. So here’s an older piece. Thanks for sticking with me!

Vanessa

Small

sweet

black

plums,

ripe mangoes

& sticky rice.

Tart

lemons

dripping

juice. Red

            sweet-

            meats.

     A shock of

            rasp
            ber
            ries.

A New Website

Welcome to my new website and blog. This will be where I post news of my upcoming readings and workshops, poems-in-progress, and periodic musings on writing (check out the sidebar to follow me). So to christen this blog, here’s a recent poem for you. Thanks for visiting!

Search and Rescue

When you wander in the unlit woods,
when you stray too far
from your own path,
remember the knapsack of history
that lives on your back,
the stories that are yours and yours alone to carry—
your father’s ashy, crooked feet, bowed by poverty,
your first fresh peach after dry apple days,
your uncle’s dried blood on your mother’s
porch, his bottles of piss in the attic,
your new husband in your mouth,
the taste like first summer sweat—
they are flint and tinder to spark fire,
iodine tablets to treat foul water,
as light and warm as silver space blankets.
These joys, these disasters,
these wild hurricanes of love and relief,
they are Swiss Army knives with millions of blades,
hatchets and fishing line, field guides to
the plants of your soul, to distinguish
between the poisonous and the medicinal.
A first aid kit. A flashlight.
A flare gun, to signal
the rescuers who are yourself,
a helicopter on the third day of being lost,
rope dangling in the whipping wind, a voice
crying out—grab it,
you’re safe now, we’ll pull
you up—
and up and up,
past the old trees into
the new, white light.

Note: “the knapsack of history that lives on your back” is a reworking of a phrase from Jen Cross: “I am writing directly out of that history—and history is what lives at my back.” This is from her Writing Ourselves Whole November 7, 2012 blog post, “what’s at our backs?” Thank you, Jen, for your inspiration.