Monthly Archives: July 2015

be careful what you wish for

e91c6cf81fb34f3831e89e5c19ffa758I had a nightmare, sleeping on a cot in a room infested with rats. Homesick, stomach swirling. Beat down from the children, the dead eyes, the grabbing. A boy from Minnesota curled up beside me whom I had known for three days.

I was in my own bed at home. Clean sheets, awake, alone. Silence pounded on my eardrums. Lack of heat anesthetized my skin. I smelled no rotting bodies. I heard no screeching Hindi pop. I felt no trickle of sweat running down my side.

The windows all latched. House sealed up like a coffin. Where had the moon gone? Where were the voices? My neighbor showed up–had she come to India, too?

Panicking, my mind clawed around. We made a plan to follow the water buffalo! We walk the ghats tomorrow! What will he think, waking to a crumpled spot? That I left in the night, crept through alleyways in soupy darkness to escape his sweet hair and shy voice? I have not yet found new batteries for my flashlight. I need to trade The Fellowship of the Ring for The Two Towers. I have a train ticket! I am going to Agra! My heart pounded in my chest–I was not done!

I awoke to the sound of dhobis slapping their saris on rocks, the smell of rancid smoke and incense, the scurrying of a rat across our legs.

Sarah

Hand-Embroidery-Patterns

your handwriting reminds me of
high school

of glossy magazine photos
pinned above your bed
in a crown

a kitchen sink filled with with roses
and a white Styrofoam leg.

The watery up and down of it,
like steam rising or
computer language
drenches me
with the nostalgic anxiety of yearbooks.

were you her?
was I me?
is Brent Ludwig really dead?

This must be what you
were doing when you
went to bed early

learning how to sew
all gold and green and red
stitches holding a heart together
and drawing such perfect shoes.

When did the Easter Bunnies come?
Are they angry?

I want to see the angels’ faces
I fear for them
in this world of feathers and
vicious apples.

The braille doesn’t tell me
what you are thinking

The Rooster is Silent.

That flock of birds who flew
through my notes, in the
hallway twenty years ago—

They have a secret.

Fourteen Hours

West-coast

Staring out the Gulf of Thailand
dreaming the South China Sea.

Fourteen hours away
They are in yesterday
and I have leapt ahead.

The Himalayas gleamed
and towered and reigned.
Rice fields stretched Ks into the haze.

Sun baked the tops of
garlanded buses
carrying skin, bodies, packs.

They washed, I watched.
They burned, I watched.
They stared, I watched
and watched.
They begged, I begged.
They stayed, I left.

Jungle now
and sea.
Blue snakes writhe
through sharp underwater rocks
The humid makes my hair curly.

Can I go back in time,
to yesterday’s me
or cut the cord
stay in tomorrow
where I speak American
and love and hate and fear and courage
all feel the same?

They wake up to Cheerios,
sofas
TVs with March Madness
while I dine on snapper and Singha
licking my fingertips
in a shack
filled with smoke and all the languages of the world.

The World is Breaking

Even the trees are still this morning. It’s Friday but the traffic feels like Sunday morning. This has happened so many times, in so many places, and now in this place.

I was traveling when those kids in trench coats killed their classmates years ago. It took me a few minutes to place this feeling this morning, to figure out why a mass shooting would feel familiar, like déjà vu. I was in Thailand, I’m pretty sure, maybe twenty-three years old. Travelers who had never visited the United States comforted me when they heard through the grapevine that I was from Colorado, not understanding the size or population of the states—that I didn’t know those people. I had to explain multiple times that the columbine is the state flower of Colorado.

Now in my new home, I feel that horrid, sinking sense of ownership this morning, driving by the theater on the way to take my husband to work. Large media vans with satellite towers fill the parking lot, traffic slowing to a crawl so we can all stare at this familiar building with new eyes.
Dropping off my son at school was difficult. I don’t watch the news unfold when this happens somewhere else. I ignore it. But these were my neighbors and friends. I cannot keep this out of my heart.

Saturday my son chose to sit at the top of the theater—his favorite vantage point. Rumors are saying that’s where the shooter sat last night. I imagine what I would have done. Would I throw his little body in the slot behind the chairs and lay on top of him? Would I toss him over the half-wall leading out of the theater and jump after him? Would I pick him up and run to the dimly lit emergency exit? Or would I just sit there, open-mouthed as we are gunned down by a stranger?

I am not writing about gun reform. I am not writing about mental illness. I am writing about fear, the kind that makes me throw up. The kind that makes me get out of bed at night and stare at a small screen glowing with red and blue flashing lights instead of having to watch the terrifying pictures in my mind. Pictures of running with a little body in my arms. Pictures of little eyes closing. Pictures of red stains on a shirt with an elephant wearing sunglasses on the front. I am writing about a horror that no one should feel anywhere in the world. But so many do, every day. And now, I am one of them.

Do Not Try This at Home

764668181_orig

Joy
excruciating
lovely
beast
tenuous
treasure
under my feet
Tell me this:
Does it hurt when?

Danger
pleasure
bored
satisfy
fun
flat
how?
Tell me this:
Can you heal when?

I need this:
knead
grow
sprout
spurt
The Lunge Lounge
(underground)
plow it down
And how.

Full of cows
tornado in town
farms down
shut down
blown down
Hop around
Lay in the ground
Flies buzz around

comfort her
How much you care—
tone it waayy down
green guitars
radio flyers
Hopscotch mars
How do you spell:

OK
okay
scratch the red itch
I’m allowed.

Walking it Off

Televisions behind curtains, blinds half drawn
a cat in long grass.
A man mowing because it’s cooler at 8:30
in front of a dirty garage behind a huge Winnebago.
Two big dudes smoking at a small table
an obligatory wave from a man behind the wheel of a Ford
(do I look 40 to other people?)
Crescent moon
pink traily clouds on the horizon of a light blue sky
only moments left
Too bad the street lights came on
Now the colors of twilight are blocked.
My flip flops don’t seem tough enough on the
hot smelly tar
Do they always give you that backer of extra wine at Chili’s?
I’m totally spinny
on my 8th wedding anniversary
watching my present through the lens of the future
as always
nostalgic before
it’s
even over.