when I think about the way that my language has deteriorated
how the vocabulary I work with is no longer strong
how I pause, how I speak
or sharply
how it’s hard to read into my words
or merit

it’s difficult to keep using words

I remind myself that regardless of the skill,
there is no one who hasn’t experienced losing it

I was a better runner when I was younger
I was a better singer when I was younger
I was a better wordsmith when I was younger

but what I have lost in speed, I make up in endurance
I can run ten miles at dawn, ten at night
instead of winning a race made up
on just the straight side of a track

women’s voices are said to develop until their thirties
and mine has been cornered into all abilities
contralto, soprano, the mezzo and the tenor
I have the knowledge of control now

my words are still less than I would like

I struggle to make myself understood now

but I also see that now I care about understanding
I’m not caught in the bleak, persistent stubbornness
that takes hold of you when you don’t know better

all those who haven’t matured
historically take more sides aligned with an extreme

they see the rightness of their choice
they see the wrongness of the alternative

and people struggle to see anything as nonbinary

and at least I know
that I can

homesickness for [those who feel trapped] [those who do not like their hometown] [those who want] [to get out]

home is within you
or home is nowhere at all

and I learned this quickly
built into an upbringing on two coasts
the Atlantic
the Great Lakes
and the softened mountains in between

these parts of this land are older than all of us
they have been here
longer than my matriarchs of 95 and 92
longer than their matriarchs who I had the opportunity
to meet when I was very small

the ones I hold dear are so many
but so many of them have experienced one place
they get to know its flaws
they get to building lists
of where to go, what to do, who to be

somewhere else

but location

is a relative thing
it can be something to be excited about,
tired with,
sad over

it can become intrinsically linked with misery in ways we can’t even fully understand
I do not enjoy being on the road I lived
when I was taken
by force
where I was stored
against what I wanted
by someone I loved

that road houses a school and a park

safe places

but I know where my pain began
and I can see it posed against the backdrop
of the house we lived
the deck we shared
the yard where we brought our friends

if the opportunity to leave is not presented
if place is hand-in-hand with pain

I understand the friends who want desperately
to leave

I just want them to be able
to find something more than pain

in their new home

The things I hold feel selfish
not really worth explaining
to anyone

but even when I try,
it’s hard enough that I
still expect tears
and wait for release
or some compulsion
to get it out of my system

with words
or breakdowns
or art

anything but this alien resilience
this strange capacity to poorly work

the horrible tightness
at my eyes and my throat
at my stomach and my hands
my joints don’t rest easy
my heart beats more than it should

so why can’t I get this out of me
why can’t I take this ability –
my inability –
and throw it

and cry for you


I consider You to be there
whatever You are
I speak with you
I whisper
or think
words that are meant for You to hear

but even if I did not have words

I would consider You in what I felt
sent forward

and that makes it hard for me to work
with those who only take You as presented
in holy books that were written through men
that hold a truth

the readers cannot take my words seriously

knowing that I’ve read the books
I know the text
I know the history

and I want it to be taken in context

not literally

I can feel things crippling before they start

the way that I cry before the things that cause crying
in an effort to stay composed
during them
to find I just look cold

the way that showers turn into sessions
of gasping
for the wrong reasons
of swallowing soap
without meaning to
when it mixes with the water in ways
that I never expect

and the fear of getting up keeps me curled and safe
safe in the way that it is when you do not move forward
safe in the way that it feels when you try not to do anything
that might upset you too much
to continue

and I spend mornings asleep
afternoons in bed, awake, and sad
and afternoons when I need to get myself up
begin so slowly
until I’m disappointed

until there isn’t any time
for anything else
than the task at hand

and I can’t defend it



3/13 Practicum

the snow is so bright
that all the extra light
floods this room yellow each morning

and I wake to the glow
before I fully know
before I become quite aware

and I remember slowly who I am
who I love
I remember slowly my shortcomings,
but I recall too the good things
the things that this brightness reminds me of
these things that are somehow part of me too

and for some reason, the moon is still visible at 8AM
full and lovely and pale on blue,
a softer shade than the ground
and a warmer one than the ice.

and when my eyes grow warm and wet,
I close them and wait.

I remember once trying to meditate,
and determining that I was not successful

so I remembered that hearts keep beating
without my control,
that my lungs still inhale, exhale
and I don’t need to remind them

March 2

I’m caught in this beauty so thick
that it’s hard to get free
like a humidity
that I could take a slice of

to try and make it easier
for you
to breathe

and it’s been tentative and true
and I keep thinking of you,
and you –
and you.

and I don’t think you know
and I’m not willing to find out
what might happen
if you did

but my sleep is so stifled
following light and dark
and reversing
and I stay so long that I wake dehydrated

I can’t convince myself to get up.
My dreams are littered with things that are only half-true
but they’re closer than I can usually get
to you.

and the other extreme is the one I have now
when I wait for my eyes to not flit behind lids
and I remember the sounds of the sighs that I hid
I hid them badly

and I count the beats of my heart that I catch
I trail my hands over my own skin
I try to reconcile myself with the world that I’m in
and I remember that we’re all still a part
of it

we’re all still apart


How is it that without you,
my ship is not lost at sea?
How is the wind still filling sails,
how is the rain still replenishing water

without salt?

How is the world not shattered,
how are the people not fraught?

This loss that has shaken me to my core,
this missing piece of what I
cannot restore —
I remember when I could fathom Jesus’ loss
and I remember crying in front of a small wooden cross
hung on a wall, where it had been my whole life,
symbolizing some eternal strife
that I never recognized

But you are not a man who lived long before I did
(even if I feel I somehow know him)

and yet the only thing I can equate
with this singing hole in my soul that weeps and gapes
is the loss of a being I held above all else
the loss of an idea,
the loss of self.

Trying to start this again

the struggle of trying to be
how I was before
is something that paws at my windows
waits at my door

I can remember in pieces
the things that I did
I can remember in pieces
what led me to it

the cars I waited in during summer
for people who didn’t come back
clothes that weren’t warm enough for how cold it became
words used for me that weren’t my name

I still don’t quite understand
the frequency and reasoning
that someone didn’t take my hand
and the ice beneath my feet that my soles couldn’t grip

grew thicker and colder
sent me spinning
into the arms of people who weren’t good for me
who I wasn’t good for

there’s something to be said for finding someone
who will listen to you
but when those people were the ones I saw as saviors
that says a lot about where I was

and more can be said for why I stayed
things I can’t even explain