To be loved by a woman
It is a remarkable thing
To be loved by a woman.
Women carry the strongest love.
Their hearts are made of ocean currents and lava
Constantly giving forth, drawing out, pressing down.
To be loved by a woman is to define the word “home”.
When a woman loves you,
She is a mother.
A quiet voice at the back of the room with ferocity thumping on her breastbone.
Women don’t love with their hearts or their souls or something else poetic and obvious as such things.
Women love with the weight of their ancestors.
They love with the burning flame at the earth’s core.
Women love with the uncertainty of their future
and the fear of death
and the promise of despair.
To be loved by a woman is to know what it feels like to be suffocated in love.
You know what it means to misunderstand her and to furrow your brow as you watch her
Loving you, who you once thought so unlovable.
You are not unlovable.
To exist before a woman is to have an opportunity to be loved deeply
And to be loved deeply, if only for a moment,
Is enough to charge a lifetime.
To be loved by a woman is to know what it feels like to be an all powerful shrike,
for you will eventually pierce her in her chest.
You cannot prevent it, though you will try.
She will love you more for trying.
She will tell you she loves you in a hundred voices.
“Did you make it home safe or not?”
“Why didn’t you text me back?”
“Do you need money?”
“You’re mama’s baby, you know that.”
She means it.
To be loved by a woman is to be loved truly.
Women love you more than they love air or water or their own beating heart.
They will give you their breath and their breast.
Their ribs and their skin.
Their eyes, their wisdom, and their blood.
You will feed from her before you turn from her
And in your darkest attitudes you will reach through the shadows
Searching for her embrace.
Love of my Life lives on a ferry boat
I have fallen in love with a magical man.
He lives on a ferry boat, sailing it back and forth across the harbor.
When the gate rises at sunset, my heart follows
And I frolic to the dock, waiting to see his lantern light.
The ocean is a remarkable woman
She pushed and she pulled constantly since the beginning of time
During the night, the ocean sings to the moon but the moon does not sing back
Instead, she watches with a hollow eye, mesmerized by the crash of water.
I have fallen in love with a magical man.
He calls me his ferry princess and I call myself Lucky
To be a sprite in the palm of his hand
It’s the only thing I’ve ever imagined being
Constellations twinkle in my pupils
The stars were bottled in my chest from long ago but when the Love of my Life is around
These flaming hot clouds of gas bubble to the top of my head.
I have been on fire for a long time
I have fallen in love with a magical man
He sails across my body each dawn
This man may love me back this time
But he will always leave at dusk
And I shall wait the shivering hours until he returns
He is all I’ve ever dreamed of.
You – Part 3
this poem was written at 2:30am after I woke up from a bad dream about this particular “You”. In the dream, they were naming constellations with another woman. So funny the way something so simple like naming constellations could set me off so much that I jolted awake and wrote this piece! Perhaps I’m too sentimental. Anyway, it’s barely edited and I would like to keep it that way. There was something so raw about how I felt when I wrote this that I want to maintain.
She will know you by your name.
By the bounce in your walk, by the touch of your hand.
This woman, the new one, she will know your voice
She will know you by the scent on your neck
She will know you by the brand of coffee in your pantry
She will know your stomach against her back and your hair in her fingers and your voice behind her ear.
But she will not know you, me.
She will not not know you by the way your body curled up beside mine on a 30 degree morning
She will not know you, voice cracking in the backseat of my car, your eyes looking up at me for once, your hand on my chest and your jeans unbuttoned
She will not know you bated breath, your hands on my waist, the hours slipping away from us as it thunders, and the promise of our future eager beneath our skin
She will not know you whispering my name, your eyes closing, something like a cry in your throat, something like a crack in our love.
She will not know you standing across the bed from me, tunnel vision, telling me all the ways you come apart around me, and the ways I fall apart around you
She may know me by name.
She may know me by photo.
I know that you will tell her.
But she will not know that in knowing you, she shall know me in every way that matters
In knowing you, she shall know my heartbeat, my breath
She shall know what makes me fall apart.
She shall know the crack in chest
The bruise on my brain
The joy laced between my teeth
This woman. The new one. I believe I will like her.
She shall be just like me, after all.
The Phenomenon of Softness
The heart is a soft organ. Not in literal texture but in general makeup. Sometimes when I talk to the right person I can feel the soft spots flexing under the weight of my emotion. Everyone I’ve ever loved has flexed my heart. Pushed and pressed on the muscle in one way or another.
In most cultures, softness is a negative trait. Softness can be filed under Weakness, Pity, Easy Prey. I’m not so easily convinced of these connotations. When I think about the parts of me that can be considered “soft” I think of my tears spilling onto my cheeks. My voice wobbling. A stone at the base of my stomach. My limbs shaking. A hurricane of my entire body. My soul bending and stretching in a moment. These soft pieces have never felt particularly soft. They feel jagged and pointed. Sharp and rusty. My soft pieces are violent.
I believe that I’m a soft person. This isn’t to say that I’m not tough or brave, but that is to say that I am human. I’m made of flesh and fear. My body quakes under my own feelings.
At times the human condition seems unbearable. This softness that we inherit from birth can be immobilizing. In our softest moments, we find ourselves wishing we could be harder. That strength was something separate from softness and that we could wield it like a weapon to scare off our ugliest feelings, but we can’t. Strength and softness are the same thing. Our tears build up our resilience. That stone in our bellies hardens our core.
When I feel that warmth creeping up my spine, the break in my chest right before I cry, I take a fraction of a moment to appreciate it. The fact that I can come apart just as simply as I can come together. There is beauty in softness. Beauty in coming apart.
They will call you polite
They will think you’re simple
They will believe that you’re sweet
They will say you’re nice
But you have never been sweet.
You have the bite of a crocodile and the venom of a viper and the talons of a raptor.
You have chubby cheeks and bright eyes and smooth skin
And stuffed between your teeth are lies or truths or screams or belly laughs.
Your eyelashes reach up and kiss your eyebrows and he leans down and kisses your forehead.
They may say that your laugh is a little loud.
What they mean is that it’s too loud.
They mean that you’re too loud.
They may say that your laugh is too loud but what they really mean is that your joy is disruptive to them.
They find your joy disruptive because they find you disruptive.
They find you disruptive because when you open your mouth you are not what they expect which is to say that you exceed their expectations.
You are loud.
You chew with your mouth open.
You call people out, you talk back, you smack your gum, you sing along, you dare to be ugly and hard and disagreeable.
Your hair is filthy and you have acne and cellulite and you haven’t slept in 3 days.
And he will still kiss your forehead because he cannot help but fall in love with how perfect you are
You are outrageous!
You have always been outrageous. You are an extraordinary woman.
You are a human.
You are made of blood and skin and sweat and fear, but you have never feared your own soul. Your own voice. Your own light. You are extraordinary.
You have never been sweet.
You have always been more glass bottle than man
Hard and cold on the outside but something good on the inside
But don’t you know that the outside matters?
Don’t you know it’s the only part I can hold?
Not the life we had together
But the one we could have had.
The one we saw in between coffee at the breakfast table and the museum trip we took once.
That life that was glimmering and shiny and seemed too perfect to be true.
The life that you and I both wanted so desperately.
The life we deserved.
The life that maybe if we had reached out a little further
Pressed the tips of our fingers into that shining, shimmering, fantastic light,
Maybe we could have grabbed it.
Maybe there’s still time
Maybe there’s not.
I mourn the life that I wanted with you.
I mourn the person that I could have been and the person that you could have been.
you could have been great.
I think that if I were to blow this candle out now, the last thing that you laid your hands on in this place,
That I would extinguish the both of us.
But I must put out the flame.
Or it could burn this house down.
The Woman From the Other Side
I miss the one I was before I knew. One time I stepped into the smelly bathroom because it was the only one vacant and as I turned on the light a large black spider ran from the door frame to under the toilet. And I knew. It knew it was in there with me, under the toilet, waiting. But there was no other bathroom and I really had to go, bladder ready to burst. In that moment, I wished I hadn’t seen that spider. I wish when I walked into the bathroom I had kept my gaze up, instead of down, and had never seen it. That way, when I used the bathroom I would have sinply uses the bathroom. But instead I was a twitching, jumpy mess in there, waiting for the spider that I knew was sharing breathing space with me, to come and bite my flesh. Of course it would have been the same if I hadn’t known. The spider still would be there, but my anxiety wouldn’t.
It is the same with him. I miss the one I was before I knew. Before. Before I knew how he slept and how he snored loud. Before I knew that he always cut his fingernails down to the nubs and before I knew that he smelled like cheap shampoo. Before I knew that he only liked to hold hands for about 5 minutes before he claimed his hands were going numb. I long for the one I was before I knew how his skin sizzled against mine. I miss the one I was before I had been seen by him. Before I was seen by him I had never been seen by anyone. Not even myself.
If I could, I would go back now. Not forever, but for just a moment. And I would look at myself. Really look at myself. I would examine every remarkable piece of me. Where my thighs meet my hips. Where my ears meet my head. Where my knees bend and my stomach dips and the birthmark on my shoulder blade. And I would bow to her. My creator. The me who existed first. The woman from before. I deserve to know her.
Carpinteria, California, USA
Four weeks ago I went to visit R in Carpinteria, the little beachside town he lives in that’s tacked on the edge of Southern California.
I had never been to California before this trip but I’ve seen movies about it. And isn’t it interesting that even though I’ve seen movies about it and heard about the beach and the movie stars and the palm trees I thought that was all talk? California had become something of a crystallized shimmering dream to me instead of a real place. But, wow. It’s definitely real.
The whole town seems to sit on two main roads right off the highway. One road leading to the beach, and the other leading to worldly desires such as a library, a church, a grocery store, and of course the only establishment that makes a town a “town” instead of “the middle of nowhere”: Starbucks.
The first night that I arrived, R and I ate at a little restaurant outside where I proceeded to get tipsy off one hard kombucha and then we stuffed ourselves with biscoff ice cream cones as we walked back to his house. The whole time I could smell the salt of the sea. I could taste the ocean hanging in the air.
When we finally got to the beach a few days later, I was so happy. There’s just something endlessly special about standing in the ocean feeling the waves lap at your feet and pull at your heels. I felt so human in that moment. Human and mortal in the presence of the almighty. The ocean herself. Neither human nor mortal. “Beautiful” is simply the greatest understatement of all time when describing the ocean but it’ll do for now.
R and I got to explore the Santa Barbara area, Ventura, and a huge pier with a little aquarium built right on the end of it! We also ate our weight in ice cream, slathered on our weight in sunscreen, and cried about the state of housing in the United States. Or more accurately, I cried and R patted my back.
I can honestly say I get it. Why you all love California so much. I see why there are movies about it and songs and hotels named after it. I suppose next the next place to visit is New York, who I believe rivals California in number of Americans in their fan club.
If you could choose
I would be a piece of white paper. Your blank spot.
That way you could draw all over me. Fill me in with every single thing you think I should be filled with. And when you’re done,
You could close the cap and walk away.
Would still be filled up. Waiting for a flood to clear the markings.
There’s a vast white emptiness right in the center of my stomach.
Then your hand hovers over it, I almost think the spot is filled.
It is not.