A genie came to me today
with a different sort of deal.
“I’ll give you just one wish,” he said
“One wound that you can heal.”
So I sat upon the wishing tree
and contemplated my position.
I thought of heaven and of hell
and the price of their admission.
“What have you decided, girl?”
the genie said to me.
I said “You’ve given me just one wish
because you’ve heard the pain in me.”
The genie just stared
with a different sort of stare
and waited, not impatiently,
for my words to mix with air.
“Genie,” I said to him, standing from the tree.
“It seems you’ve set yourself a trap,
but the prey will not be me.”
I walked away from a genie today
and left his wish behind.
Sometimes price exceeds value,
and desires become unkind.
I am searching for something that doesn’t exist
a secret that lives somewhere between
dusk and “I miss you”
hidden in that small voice in the back of your head
that whispers “you’re missing something” or
“what have you forgotten?”
an unexplored part of the pacific or the atlantic
or something in between I never could fathom –
maybe it says “you’re getting colder”
a memory (or was it a dream?) about that time
you gave me some small part of you
but I can’t find it now
and I’m looking in all the places you told me to put it
I am searching for something that doesn’t exist
because I swear there has to be something else
some innuendo dripping in ink still wet
spelling out all the ways I failed you
after every wretched moment
there really is nothing at all
I am so full and so empty
I fill my pockets with stones
and watch the scale tick tick tick to the right
I paint my face to avoid looking myself in the eye
I am a skeleton inside folds of skin
that I coat lovingly with cocoa butter
willing my own softness to seep back in
I look at old photographs and don’t recognize that girl
cheekbones lifted high in a colgate smile
eyes crinkled at the corners, shut against brilliant sun
skin summer smooth
I wonder when I slipped into her body
and where my own body has gone off to
they say today is the start of something new
each hour filled with the promise of change
and the possibility of becoming something different
yet I am stuck
my skin belongs to someone else
on loan from a company that no longer exists
but still charges a monthly rental fee
it is a new year, a new page, a new book entirely
but I’ve not quite finished the final pages of the last one
I keep reading the same paragraph over and over
trying to make sense of words that are in no particular order
that don’t lead me to the conclusion
but rather into a maze dripping in letters
from a language I can’t understand
I know you could translate for me
but my body isn’t ready for that journey
there is so much more to see
in this ephemeral life
i’ll tell you all about it when I see you again
I am awake
blinking, bleary, morning-after
basking in shadows that taste just like sunlight
and clear water days unimagined.
I am awake
pink, yellow, gold with promise
planting impossibilities in my garden
and scattering magic on my tongue.
Dappled emeralds coated decaying pine needles
Ninety bones for one night
She counted them out
Enough for two galaxy viewings
One hundred and eighty
They thudded against thick stationary paper
“Can I buy a few sheets?”
A nod from behind the counter
Misplaced whiskers floated in the foreign breeze
Forgotten skin drifted in the sunlight
She laid down two more bones
Snow stuck to her over-heated skin
Running in rivulets to her breasts
Thoughts dripped from a frozen lavender tongue
And she scrambled to gather them up
Ink slid over the fancy stationary paper
The world was so quiet
She thought for a moment she could breathe
a maple leaf sits in the center of the churning atlantic
not wondering how it got there
not caring where it goes
how beautiful it must be
to be the only autumn leaf
but not know you mean the end
My soul is so tired.
Like the tree in my front yard that was struck by lightning
it creaks in the wind, just barely standing, constantly threatening to fall.
It asks me from it’s curled up ball in a dark corner
“when can I go home?”
and I know it doesn’t mean when are we going home to the tree struck by lightning
and the great windowed eyes of a house that feel like I don’t belong there.
I know it means that it’s tired and dragging through dirty watercolor
water days just isn’t doing it anymore.
I saw a shooting star for the first time last week and I didn’t know what to wish for
because I couldn’t remember what the point of hope was.
My therapist asks me how I’m feeling
but that’s a really hard question to answer when you don’t
feel anything at all anymore.
See, somewhere along the way I forgot what it was to be me without the capital D
depression. It’s so easy to let it be my personality instead,
like slipping on a wool sweater that you hate because it’s so itchy
and you know you’ll be scratching all night but hey,
who cares? You’ll blend in with the wallpaper and someone will bump into you saying
“oops, sorry, didn’t see you there”
and you’ll realize your presence and your absence have the equal effect
of absolutely nothing.
Somewhere along the way I forgot how to ask for love.
I forgot how to unfold rose petals under my eye lids
and lap the moonlight from dreams I can never remember.
I forgot how to smile with the songbirds and grab your hand in the sunshine
that I can’t see through the blindfold.
The world is so focused on telling me that I matter
but the only thing inconsequential here is me.
I can tell by the way the wind blows regardless of if I see it
and the way my voice crumbles but no one notices because
I’m hardly there anyway
and the way passersby’s eyes slide right over me.
I can’t remember the last time I was content
and I’m not sure that’s a bad thing.
It means I’m not done yet.
I may be nothing now. A butterfly still caught in the cocoon,
a half-told story, a sad girl sitting in cold bathwater but bathing in candlelight,
a tomorrow that isn’t promised.
I’m not promised.
But I’m not done yet.
A single feather lost
from a collection of pillows
floating across sunbeams
buffeted by turrets of dust
dappled in the same sameness
of every tomorrow and yesterday
no more wasted invitations
no more sighing obligations
The sky is deceptively blue today
And bugs whine in the Indian summer heat
(Is it still an Indian summer if it happens every year?)
I woke up late
Which is to say I woke up at the same time I always do
Which is to say I have no reason to get up in the morning
Which is to say I do but I can’t see it with this heavy
Blanketing my fogged thoughts
So I sleep instead and try to remember dreams
That I wish I could write into reality
Which is to say I could –
I’m a writer you know –
But I have this nothingness surrounding my peony heart
It’s a numbness I guess, but also
But simply nothing at the same time
I wonder if I really am a writer
Or if that, too, was a “phase” just like they said my sexuality would be
But now in this time that should be autumn
I feel like it’s the end of something
Because endings are just so much simpler
Or maybe it’s just October 13
And nothing is so significant after all