Other Poems

unsettling

as part of being accountable for my place in this world
i must express an aspect of my identity that informs my movement:
i am a settler, all these years later

i wear a white lace glove on my hand a privilege an axis
on which my opportunities are hinged
and the spaces through which i move rotate
i am a guest, a gust of wind

that carries forward the momentum of ongoing colonization
of victories that were claimed by conquerors my ancestors
who tried to erase and deface the people who were here first
and the land on which i am a guest

i am a guest, a visitor, a worthwhile witness and wanderer
i benefit from the trail of imperialism my ancestors left behind them
i am a settler on stolen lying treaty land
i am uncomfortable with this fact

i know that we who are non are still implicated
whether through conscious recognition or denial
we participate in the process of progress, that white-centric word
we are part of the machine of nation

i carry the legacy of being a settler on my skin
i am accountable for this and i will take it up in poppies
this is complicity, this is my corrosive culture
i see the resistance the resilience you demonstrate

i see the history, the truth behind the forgetting

© Being Women Today 2017 ebook

 

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

 

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.

 

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

 

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.

 

apple pie

i write stories like i peel apples:
i leave them to spiral onto the board beneath,

cupped in my hand around a bruise, light pressure,
bearing down on stained-glass promises of a place to hide.

i wrap up fears of apocalyptic endings and earthquakes
then tuck them away in the far corners of the cave like spiderwebs.

in the hollow of cold understanding, climate controlled and calm,
i sit and wait for the next destructive force, the inevitable.

my carefully arranged arsenal of most precious objects:
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;
my child sleeping in my lap, small rags;

my hand holding the story apple in one hand
and a sharp camping knife in the other

waiting for those who will force me to fight.

they were wrong, they told us lies
the monsters are coming to get us.

 

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.

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