2021 January-February

SE Belmont. Portland, OR

Before the flood warning and the high wind warning and having my hotel room jiggle in the wind all night and waking up to no power and driving home through torrential rain.

The sky did a magic trick called sun and cirrocumulus.
The crows came out to watch.

If the hedge is a small building. If the trailer is tucked in like a child.
If the branches leave shadows like stains.

This tree was mostly ghost. And the ghost was mostly monster. And their ghost monster friends were gathered in the marshy mud near the ocean’s salty lick. They’d been there for hundreds of years. But this tree was here longest.

Near twilight in mid January, I was the only visitor, arriving awe-full and shaky with dark fairy tale fears. Don’t ask how long, they moaned. 500, 800, 1200. Numbers are yours not mine.

And then we went silent to let the birds say what they needed to. The moss. And the water.

The flowers couldn’t wait. The branch cracked open.
The bud burst wide. Welcome, welcome, welcome, welcome.

The dumpster sat in the driveway, blocking part of the sidewalk. The worker sat half hidden on the side door steps. Hey there he said only after I’d wandered toward him, engrossed in shadow, light and accidents.

There are always alternatives. Your tongue could unstick from the roof of your mouth. Your words could unravel, unspoken. You could go pet the cat instead.

A bit more dry, delicate and tired.
An old bouquet holds the shape for another month’s new beauty.

Surrounded by porcupines, unfurl your own spikes: a sharp point, a calm smile.

All night I move through crowded bodies and loud conversations.
I navigate through good intentions and boring neighbors to arrive here
in my barely awake body, relieved to be nearly alone.

What if you let a limb slip loose from its usual pinned place? And I unstuck my spine bones from their decades of lived days and made them a ladder that grew me toward your ready hand.

These old girls have refused every last day offered them. Surviving, not with pluck and vigor, but allowance. Even the coming freeze will simply dress them up as something new.

We are so deep in the hang on and hold off. Wait for your electricity, for your vaccine, for your job, for your mother. Wait for the sun to return, the snow to melt, the schools to reopen and things, all the things, to get better. Here in the cold, rich dark, may we make our patience full, our bones light, our skin new.

I hear a whir at the edges of this long, heavy pause. I wonder what shape it will make of me.

Beauty devours decoration. Music eats the air.

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