Love, Maybe

Always
in the middle
of our bloodiest battles
you lay down your arms
like flowering mines

to conquer me home.

Audre Lorde

“You are not a drop in the ocean. You are the entire ocean in a drop.”
Rumi
I give myself five days to forget you.
on the first day I rust.
on the second I wilt.
on the third day I sit with friends but I think about your tongue.
I clean my room on the fourth day. I clean my body on the fourth day.
I try to replace your scent on the fourth day. 
the fifth day, I adorn myself like the mouth of an inmate.
A wedding singer dressed in borrowed gold.
The midas of cheap metal.
tinsel in the middle of summer.
crevice glitter, two days after the party.
I glow the way unwanted things do,
a neon sign that reads;
come, I still taste like someone else’s mouth.
— Warsan Shire
“Lately, the world swivels at will and I find I shut my eyes tight.”
— Virginia Woolf, in an excerpt from “Selected Diaries
“I have been ignored by prettier women than you, but none who carried the heavy pitchers of silence so far, without spilling a drop.”
— Jeffrey McDaniel in an excerpt from “Letter to the Woman Who Stopped Writing Me Back”

Prelude

Is it the long dry grass that is so erotic,
waving about us with hair-fine fronds of straw,
with feathery flourishes of seed, inviting us
to cling together, fall, roll into it
blind and gasping, smothered by stalks and hair,
pollen and each other’s tongues on our hot faces?
Then imagine if the summer rain were to come,
heavy drops hissing through the warm air,
a sluice on our wet bodies, plastering us with strands of delicious grass; a hum in our ears

We walk a yard apart, talking
of literature and of botany.
We have known each other, remotely, for nineteen years.

Fleur Adcock

Stop Being So Religious

What
Do sad people have in
Common?

It seems
They have all built a shrine
To the past
And often go there
And do a strange wail and
Worship.

What is the beginning of
Happiness?
It is to stop being
So religious
Like That.

Hafiz, as rendered by Daniel Ladinsky

Maybe poems are made of breath, the way water,
cajoled to boil, says, This is my soul, freed.”

—  Dean Young in an excerpt from Scarecrow on Fire

painting by Bill Bate

Ugly

Your daughter is ugly.
She knows loss intimately,
carries whole cities in her belly.

As a child, relatives wouldn’t hold her.
She was splintered wood and sea water.
They said she reminded them of the war.

On her fifteenth birthday you taught her
how to tie her hair like rope
and smoke it over burning frankincense.

You made her gargle rosewater
and while she coughed, said
macaanto girls like you shouldn’t smell
of lonely or empty.

You are her mother.
Why did you not warn her,
hold her like a rotting boat
and tell her that men will not love her
if she is covered in continents,
if her teeth are small colonies,
if her stomach is an island
if her thighs are borders?

What man wants to lay down
and watch the world burn
in his bedroom?

Your daughter’s face is a small riot,
her hands are a civil war,
a refugee camp behind each ear,
a body littered with ugly things

but God,
doesn’t she wear
the world well.
 
Warsan Shire