rabbit babies

i am ensnared. not trapped, not yet.
an impermanently placed bambino rabbit
caught up in systems that disparage and kill.
yet i am responsible for my babies:

the ones made of flesh, fur and memories
the ones that exist immaterially in clouds: good dreams.
i am the one that teaches them, through singular osmosis,
where to lay their hopes and hearts and fists

i bring home the scraps that feed their intelligence
i show them huge waiting secrets, forced underground (but never silent).
i tell them: do not close your eyes against the light
and do not be afraid to confront that which aims to frighten.

the methodical pumping of hind legs: one defence against injustice.
the careful placement of privileged paws: the way we resist
the slow-spreading poison that has always worked to infect
our momentary lives, our rabbit-holed homes

yet our lips will not be stilled
against the approaching winter night.

Ellipses VIII: Wisps

The winter outside my window sugarcoats the evergreens, a dream

that appears like a small snowy kitten, padding quietly into my room
on cold winter mornings. Her paws are the icy whisper of snowflakes
piling up against the sides of houses on rich residential streets.

I keep notes from all my crushes at school in a box under my bed.
I’ve been told to pray for a heart as white as snow, although
I’m not sure what this is supposed to mean. I still can’t wear white

because I can’t keep it clean.

School was canceled once, because of the winter outside my window.

Ellipses VII: Gruffalo Tribute

I’m sorry, pretty bluebird, said the little grey mouse.
The small creature then set to working building a stockpile

of fallen forest seeds and sticks, in the hopes that the bird
would fly by a second time, this time wanting to talk.

And then the Gruffalo showed up. And the mouse had,
by that time, outsmarted them all.

Gruffalo-Spotters_840x450 (1)
Poem inspired by Emma Donaldson and Axel Scheffler’s The Gruffalo

Ellipses VI: Island

On call, the midwife sleeps whenever she gets the chance
Jupiter spins slowly, everyone contributing to the purpose of the house

Her partner happily makes the meals and cuts her pieces of store-bought cake
Often times he sketches the bay through the window; she is content to sit by his side

Dogs lie on the floor with rough paws and resting eyes, hushed magistrates
Little black rabbits with red eyes in the peripheral, taken as good omens

When visiting with relatives after many months have winked by,
they find it nearly impossible to keep quiet company, glasses filled with froth

Beyond

You wake up on your thirteenth birthday in your purple bedroom, all your Beanie Babies in a row on the headboard above your bed (you’re a Nineties kid, after all). Happy birthday, you whisper to yourself. You get up and go to the bathroom.

You pull down your soft pink pajama bottoms and your Fruit of the Loom panties. You pee, looking around the bathroom while you sit there, humming to yourself. Then you happen to look down at your panties and oh, there’s a stain. A brown stain.

You inspect it closely—smell it, touch it. You’re sure what it definitely isn’t, but you’re not sure if it’s what you find yourself suddenly wondering about. You twist around and look into the toilet and oh, yeah, ’kay, there’s blood in there.

So you flush and pull your panties and pajama bottoms back up. You wash your hands in the sink, rinsing them under warm soap-bubbled water, looking at yourself in the mirror. You look at your brown hair framing your face. You imagine that there’s something new there, something that hints at this new development sitting in your panties (you are a whole day older, after all). You can feel the stain between your legs. You feel a weird sense of pride about it, even though all you’ve been told about it is that it’s awful.

You sense that something has ended and simultaneously begun, something ugly and brown right now but promising and complicated later.

It’s something that reveals small secrets, like a yellow tulip opening up at the beginning of spring. Birds chirp in your stomach.

You decide you’ll tell your mom about the stain.

But only after you have gone back to your room and removed all the Beanie Babies from the headboard above your bed. You give each one a farewell kiss. You rub their soft fur against your face before putting them one by one into an empty shoebox you find in the closet.

© Being Women Today 2017 ebook

Ellipses V

Unequal division of labour: I can’t do the dishes without getting my shirt wet
Like warm baked bread made on gusty summer mornings
I prefer to eat the rules rather than live by them

I feel a vastness of days when you’re not here as well
Each evening arriving, already flattened by someone else’s rolling pin

This feeling belongs on an island, tucked away
in the changeover space between tomorrow and today.

Ellipses IV

The trees wear tall, prickly green hats on their heads: nightcaps
I stare at the straight line of their guard until my eyes go numb, from refusing to blink
Plastic chairs, a charred can of something, and the campfire where talk becomes loose

“You’ll make a good wife someday”
Oh, so you think everything I’m doing is leading towards the end-goal of marriage?

The trees grow a bit taller in their silence, standing sentry
I thought they were on my side.

Presence

The sparkle that resides in each new day is a force unseen—
it’s become a force within. She is bright, forever beside me.

When I think of her I think of the truest, most genuine music:
a fiery and sweet accompaniment to each new day.

I hear her in the way birds call and sing to each other from the leaves of trees,
their notes left to reside and resonate richly in my heart, keeping me company.

I hear her in the quiet way that flowers grow, greeted by soft blue butterflies.
Meanwhile, the luminosity of the sun cannot pretend to compete with her, at all.

I hear her in the way the ocean speaks swiftly, leaving watermarks on my heart.
I see her in my dreams when she is not needed elsewhere, and am grateful for the visit.

She glitters inside raindrops, a whisper on the wind that plays with my hair.
A dazzling radiance—finest beauty—forever flying fearless forward.

Growing up, we got in trouble together, thinking we could get away with doing
the opposite of what our parents told us to do (duh). And now, more than ever,

each secret she told me is a treasure, a gem to hold tightly in my hand
and carry with me wherever I go. So this is what I do.

In cherishing her, we are wrapped in blankets of air-light, golden courage—
our hearts full to bursting with her song.

Scan 171740001

In loving memory of Taylor Marie Bell 
October 10, 1993 – December 23, 2013

Ellipses III

We forget that when we experience heartache,
every part of our bodies feels heavy and sore,
a moving collection of rock remains and leftover bramble knots.

I put on my wool-lined rain boots, lacquered in their winter mud,
and go out, again, to look for more answers before dinner.

Self-portrait as a ghost that cannot be pinned down or turned into silk

I am not an object.
I am the explosive night sky:
each star an instant of lived experience.

I am not the ornate glass owl that sits on your shelf,
never expressing more than its purpose.
(I am not ornate at all.)

No, I breathe life into spoons and forks,
I lift metaphor to my lips with a kiss,
I amplify the meaning of objects.

I am not a flock of old socks but on gunmetal days I transform:
I am the bottom drawer in a bureau,
threatening to spill over into mysticism.

Despite poetic intention I am not an object.
But I have felt the mizzle of objectification
on my body like a coat that is too tight.

When the zipper gets stuck and I ask for help,
will you see me as more than one thing?
I am a white gold ring worn on the wrong finger,

a snag on your gaze—torn.
Being likened to one object,
I bear witness to ghosts.

© Being Women Today 2017 ebook