lady in waiting (the weight of significance)

my weight, a number
the action word: to wait
please take a moment
to pause
to cease
to freeze
to suspend your ease
i am here for now
i am here for you (now)

the difference between
the verb ‘to deliver’ and
‘to unload’
to drop the weight of your stress
when under duress
undress (to do it)
with you here
i can remove a layer
to transfer
it to you
to remove it
now (breath) i feel much better
having freed myself from the weight,
the heaviness of the (waiting) game

so that now
while you carry this newfound weight
for me
for me

don’t leave me here with this
worn-edged weight inside my chest


real anyway

i remember black knee-high socks
that never stayed up.
scootchy socks, we called them,
bunching up around our ankles
but better than ones with holes.

i worry about being vapid
i like that word: vapid
but i don’t want to be it

i got the bad news today,
about her dog.

i used to pretend
that the field by my house
was full of snakes
that would slip
around my ankles
if i didn’t run fast enough
through the grass.
snakes: the creatures of sin.
it felt real to me, then.

since her last visit
i’ve been busy
burying my face
in the hidden foibles of peaches,
which is to say
i’ve been aimlessly sleeping around,
my only (inadequate) coping mechanism
for dealing with the mess i’ve made.
i reluctantly admit.

i want her to visit again.
i’ll do my best to be romantic this time.
no more loud voices or
thunderstorms or
slamming of doors.
i promise.

i’d like if that could be
a real possibility, anyway.

Ellipses IX: wind bind

time exists in a binding made between two objects
i am a subject only because you are also a subject
we are subjected to brief crystals of hope growing in our stomachs
only to realize they were water-soluble all along

damn our optimistic hearts—we are not deities at all
a pretty willow tree might offer better company
if not for the protection its limbs provide
then for its inability to speak

(unless the wind decides to pull language out of it)


apple pie

i write stories like i peel apples:
i leave them to spiral onto the board beneath
cupped in my hand like a bruise, light pressure,
bearing down on stained-glass rumours of a place to hide

i wrap up fears of apocalyptic endings
to tuck them away in the far corners of the cave
like spiderwebs, in the hollow of cold understanding,
i sit and wait for the next destructive force: the inevitable

in front of me, my carefully arranged arsenal
of most precious things: my watch; a ring that turns
my finger green; a teacup with a crack near the lip, the blood;
a pencil sketch done by my child, torn in many places;

and my child sleeping in my lap, small rags.
my right hand holding the story apple; in my left,
there sits a sharp serrated knife; my life represented.
goodbye cold sweat, deep regret, all the financial debt,

i wait now
for those
who will
force me
to fight.

in the moment before, i think:
they were wrong, they told us lies.

the monsters are coming to get us.

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


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