Bayou Blues

I never expected to be here. No one told me to move to New Orleans, or that I could find a job that allowed me to sit in the sun all day. The water, orange-dark and filmy, holds and carries our canoe through the twists and turns of Cane Bayou. I am living inside a 19th century novel, exploring and living a dream in color.

I am holding myself straight, tall, strong in the back of the canoe. My turns are perfect and unhurried. My palms hug the paddle, my arms strain against the current. Pushing and pulling. Every once in a while we speak, but mostly we quiet, feeling the swamp air hot and sticky against our skin. Water sprays and splashes against the boat. Laughter floats down the bayou behind us. We pass the trees, enter the salty flats leading to the wide expanse of the Pontchartrain. Every curve brings a new landscape. The sun beats upon already-tanned shoulders.

The last bend, leaving the stench of rotting alligator and decomposing swampgrass. White tips of the waves stretching across brown water. A warm wind blows. My stomach is growling for lunch. We urge our canoe into the shallow water of the lake, and in a clumsy maneuver, I am in the water. Lukewarm water sloshes against my thighs and licks the bottom of my t-shirt. We are all wearing t-shirts, bright orange spots in a sea of mud and murky water. The bottom is sandy, and I guide my boat, still carrying its peaceful passenger, up towards the high shore of grass. One determined shove and our craft is lifted by the grass and held captive. Safe.
“Let’s go,” I gesture at my crewmate, who shakes his head. I shrug my shoulders and lift my t-shirt over my head, folding the orange fabric carefully and rolling it into a plastic drybag. I wade into the water, the warm warm water of the Pontchartrain swallowing my legs, hips, belly, breasts, shoulders. Then I push off the sandy bottom and move my arms through the muddy bathwater, trailing weeds and sunshine out into the lake.
The children splash and dive, bellies pushing through the water as they try to shove each other under, gasping for the swampy air. Laughter rolls across the lake. We dig for clams with our toes, scumbling along the bottom until we find one, rough and round, before we plunge under and grasp it with our fingers. Matt May pops them open with his jackknife, and we dare each other to swallow the pale boogers of raw meat. Fresh from the Pontchartrain. Delicious. Gagging with horror and glee we fling the shells away.
We float, coaching one another to lean back, allow the water to hold you, embrace you, support you. Let it all go. We’re friends here, family, all children. The afternoon strips away the people we are on the outside and allows us to be filled with the joy of being alive. Being together.

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Laney

Emma’s mom watches us back down the driveway, her arms crossed against the chilly air. The lights falls around her silhouette. Headlights highlight her unreadable expression. An older me would have been grateful for her concern. The person sitting in this seat thinks she’s probably feeling tremendous relief at watching us leave. “Thank god that girl’s out of our house,” she will tell Emma’s dad when she gets back inside. He’ll grunt tiredly and they’ll go back to bed, slip back into comfortable dreams, feeling safe with their normal children. A girl and a boy and a dog. I wonder what I ever had in common with Emma, really.

“Are you hungry?” my mom asks. She reaches towards to radio but thinks better of it, pulling her hand back at the last second. The car stays silent as we wind through the quiet streets. I shake my head. I can’t remember the last time I felt hungry. Or that I could remember how to fall asleep.

My mom sighs and the silence continues until we reach home. She doesn’t try to stop me when I head towards the living room and turn on the TV. The lights and the noise are enough to stop my thoughts for a while, and before I know it, the room is aglow with pre-dawn light.

*

“Whats up?” Emma texts me the next morning. I’m still in the pajamas I put on at her house, sitting cross-legged on the couch, trying to eat a waffle.

“Not much,” I type with sticky fingers. So far I’ve managed two bites. The maple tastes fake and overly sweet. I can taste the eggs in the batter and I’m gagging at the smell, pushing the plate away. I’ll figure out what to do with the rest of the waffle later.

“Why did you leave?” the cartoon bubble pops up with a suctiony sound. I put down the plate with the waffle and pick up the phone with the edges of my hands, careful not to smear the screen. I don’t know what to tell her. I didn’t know what to tell her parents when I tapped on their door at 3:30 in the morning. That I was going to throw up. That I couldn’t sleep. That I was thinking too much. That I wanted to die.

“I needed to be home,” I type. She’ll be curious and try to wheedle the truth out tomorrow morning at school, but that’s a whole 24 hours from now. Lots of things can change in 24 hours.

At 11 a.m. my mom bounds down the stairs in her workout clothes.

“I’m going to yoga,” she says brightly. “Want to come?”

“Not really,” I say truthfully. I’m half-watching an infomercial for a food processor (so many colors!) and half-watching a spider try to vault from one end of the coffee table onto the TV shelf. So far he’s only ended up upending himself, dangling stupidly from an invisible thread.

“Elaine.” I look up. Her eyebrows are pushing into one another. She looks hilarious if I ever feel like laughing again. “You have to try.”

I have to try?” I ask, incredulously. Definitely don’t feel like laughing now. “I didn’t do anything.”

“Don’t take that accusatory tone with me,” she says. I can see faint bluish circles under her eyes, even through her foundation. “We’ve been through this.”

“Yes, we have,” I agree. I turn my attention back to the TV/spider, hoping she’ll take the hint and leave. After a few minutes, she does.

*

But then she’s back, like she’s always back, like now that my dad’s gone she has to be in my life 24/7. “Don’t you have any friends?” I asked her last week after she joined me on the couch to watch Modern Family. The couch is huge, big enough for six people, but for some reason she had to sit right next to me, crushing my foot and pushing against my elbows.

“Ow!” she exclaimed, “Your elbows are sharp!”

“Well, sit somewhere else,” I said. “You used to go out on Thursday nights.”

We used to go out,” she replied sadly. “Your dad and I share a lot of the same friends.”

“That doesn’t answer the question.” Why are you still sitting here, I wanted to say.

She sighed. “Sue’s pretty upset that your dad and I separated.”

“Don’t use that word,” I warned. “You’re thinking about things.”

“That’s called a separation,” my mom replied. We watched Modern Family. Some families are funny; and some are not.

*

“Let’s grab lunch,” my mom shouts down the stairs as she heads upstairs for her shower. I’m surprised she’s back already, but then I look at the tiny clock framed by books in the bookshelf. I’ve been sitting here for two hours. I haven’t even moved my legs. When I do, needles of pain shoot through them. Fuck, I whisper to myself. Fuck fuck fuck.

“I’m not hungry,” I say. I can feel a layer of grease collecting on my skin. My hair needs washing, especially after playing soccer with Emma and the rest of the team yesterday. Fortunately, this room is the only room in the house without a mirror. I will likely live in this room for the rest of my life.

She enters the room smelling like shampoo and mint.

“Come on,” she says. “We’re going. I don’t care what you say.”

“I say I’m not going.” My words are sharper than I’d intended, but it’s too late now.

“Laney,” she says, louder. “We need to get you out of this house.”

“There’s no “we” here,” I say. My nose stings like I’m about to cry again. “Please go away.”

“Get up,” she says. Her voice is hard like when I was little and I did something dangerous. “Get UP!” She reaches over the back of the couch and grabs my arm. I yank it back, and it flies into her face. I hear my elbow connect with a sharp pop.

She screams and drops my arm. I force myself to stare straight ahead at the television. Do not turn around, I tell myself. Don’t show weakness. You hate her. She ruined her life and now she’s going to ruin yours. Don’t turn around. Someone is being wheeled frantically into an operating room on TV.

I can hear her moaning behind me and the sound makes me suddenly mad. She deserved to get hurt grabbing me like that. The sound of her pain makes me want to hit her again. I turn around. She’s slumped against a chair holding her mouth with her right hand. She looks pathetic.

“You’re pathetic,” I say. She looks up at me, her eyes blue and wet with tears.

“I am. Pathetic,” she says. I’m surprised I can see her lip beginning to swell, the first indications of a bruise that she won’t be able to cover with makeup.

“You’re a bad mom,” I tell her. “This is all your fault.” I thought I’d feel better saying it, and I do a little bit, but I mostly feel wrong. This is not how daughter’s are supposed to act. I feel hot tears building behind my eyes and I can’t really stop them from running down my cheeks. “It’s your fault.”

She starts moaning again, but it’s worse this time, filling up the room and drowning the sound of the television. “I know,” she cries. Tears and blood-tinged saliva drip off her chin onto her cream blouse. “I’m so sorry,” she blubbers. I want to hit her again so badly, but I’m frozen on the couch. All I can do is watch. “I’m a terrible mother,” she says. “I never should have had you. I never should have gotten married. I’m a fucking mess.”

I’ve never heard my mother swear before. She would even scold my dad for swearing under his breath at drivers, bad days, and bad service at restaurant. Even “heck,” she says, is “crass.” Hearing her say the f-word in our living room makes me feel sure that our old life is never coming back. Neither is my dad. The old me is never coming back and I don’t know what to tell Emma tomorrow at school.

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Apparently I Wrote This…

My baby, why do we keep on moving?

Which of us needs to go and hates to stay?

I smile, you wink. We hold hands. We hold each other. We can’t hold still.

I eat, you go to work, I work my body, you work the cards. I talk, I buy, I wash the floors, the sheets, the dishes, your uniforms smelling of cigarette smoke and other people’s vices.

The phone rings, the phone buzzes. I’m alone.

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I Was

I was a good writer, once. I was a good writer because I wrote. I wrote because I had that fire inside, the one they talk about, the fire that kept Hemingway drunk and Emily alone. The fire that my boyfriend thinks may someday pay our rent. His rent. 

I was a good because they told me so, and I believed them. Belief made me good, and most of all, kept me writing. 

I stopped writing. Finally, I had written enough, so they put it on a stiff piece of ivory paper and presented it to me, May 15th, 2012: You are a creative writer. 

You can stop writing. We believe you now. All this nonsense can stop. Time to go find a job.

The diploma sits alone in a leather embrace while I go find jobs. I work hard at them. I cook, I sew, and thrift-shop and I still read. I don’t write.

I want to write again. Several weeks ago I told my boyfriend (who writes), I will write again when we have children. When I have someone to write for, obviously. And with that, I let go of such a crucial piece of my being that I’m trying not to think about it anymore. I want to be a teacher, a mother, a good wife and a traveler. 

But I still want to be a writer. 

How else will I ever be able to absorb… Louisiana, body-surfing, barbecue, Tyrin, the clunk and surge of a canoe. The drop of sweat, the bite of whiskey, the hugs and belonging, the dry road across Texas. The frustration of moving and trying and trying harder, and moving and wanting and restlessness. The old friendships, new friendships, the buzz of the internet, the ups and downs and start-overs and pie crust clumping together in a bowl.

I’m going to start writing again. Please, tell me. 

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Pine Ridge

This piece integrates quotes from a recent NY Times article, “Next to Tribe With Alcohol Ban, a Hub of Beer,” which can be found in full online: http://www.nytimes.com/2012/03/06/us/next-to-tribe-with-alcohol-ban-a-hub-of-beer.html?_r=1&scp=2&sq=pine%20ridge&st=cse

As we approach the western border of South Dakota, I know we’re going to be making a detour. The yellow afternoon seeps through the car windows and warms the folds across my lap. I measure with my fingers, spread open in an eyeball approximation of an inch. One inch = ten miles. Ten miles = ten minutes, or less if I’m driving. The whole thing should take less than two hours. And that’s being incredibly generous.

“Pine Ridge is home to the Oglala Sioux Tribe and is one of the poorest places in the country, according to 2010 census data.”

I know this place because I am paid to talk about it ; paid to describe the desolation, the poverty, the lasting impacts of domestic warfare and institutional racism. I am paid to tell you that your ancestors were wrong to go west. That Manifest Destiny was a totally fucked-up idea with no moral basis. I am paid to calmly and articulately deconstruct the myth of the American West. My brown skin and dark eyes will convince you that everything you learned in fourth grade social studies was false, and that you should give me a hug, or at least donate to the historical society. Not all embrace this revisionist history. Some are wary, watching me from the back of the room as I gesture at maps, point out borders and treaty agreements, show paintings and wave towards flags. I can do this for at least a few more hours before it starts to hurt, right below my breast bone, deep inside my ribs. Then I can’t stop my tone from rising like a preacher on the last word of scripture. Like a parent on the final word in a fierce scolding.

“Fetal alcohol syndrome, fatal drunken driving accidents and beer-fueled murders have cast a pall over Pine Ridge for decades.”

I trace the lines on the map with my index finger, trying to keep it from shaking across the page. Truth be told, I am afraid. Every reservation holds a memory of home, but I have not lived my life without warning. I can only rely on my features for so long before some misplaced word, some unconscious gesture, some screaming hint of my ignorance will announce my presence as an outsider. But the open road keeps twisting deeper and deeper into the depths of Pine Ridge. Wounded Knee lies on the far edge of the reservation, less than ten miles from Nebraska. The New York Times article I read last month neglected to mention this particular proximity. Let alone how they might be related.

“Dozens of people in various states of inebriation wandered along the road. Other men and women were passed out in front of abandoned buildings.”

The fields are empty. I’m not used to so much openness. Even back home, fields are seeded with wheat and potatoes. The mountains roll up from the valley floor. But we seem to be the only presence in the giant gap between the brown earth and the blue sky., my pale-skinned boyfriend and I, letting the odometer count up the miles as we drift farther and farther away from the Interstate.

“The tribal police department, which has 38 officers — down from 101 six years ago — lacks jurisdiction.”

I’ve grown up feeling the sting of injustice and discrimination. But my parents were outsiders. They came to the rez with this knowledge, and passed it on to me. You can’t be non-Indian on Indian land and expect your life to be the same. When you pass onto a reservation, your personal history will come to the surface. The color of your skin will matter. I know this. I know I am an outsider even when I am home. Here, I am twice the outsider, and way outside my comfort zone.

“Any sign of alcohol — the smell of beer, walking funny, slurred speech — can get a person arrested in Pine Ridge. “

We’re running out of gas. I’m trying to keep the panic deep down in my belly, trying to suppress it because, after all, this little excursion was my idea. The sun is setting, and each dot on the map could signify a town or just a place where the highways bends to flow on another twenty-five miles without interruption. But we can’t turn back now, and we’re on one of three paved roads in a seventy-mile radius. We almost miss the gas station, our eyes are so intent on finding a giant Conoco or Exxon.

“There!” I practically shout, pointing over his lap to the four pumps lined up outside a wooden mini-mart. I open the car door. My heart is thudding in my chest. I walk across the pavement, my head down, my hair over my features. I am suddenly aware of my tight leggings and lace-up boots. Native girls don’t dress like I am dressed now. But no one looks at me until I stand in front of the register, keeping my face still and easy.

“Bathroom?” I ask. She points at a door in the back, but I can see the “Out of Order” sign from here. She shakes her head.

“Just go ahead and use it.”

When I’m done, I return to the car, and then pump the gas. My boyfriend stays in the car and watches me replace the pump. Upon re-entering the safe little world of our Honda Accord, I am exhilarated. “I did it,” I say, “I passed.”

“Rates of diabetes, teenage suicide, crime and unemployment are in some cases exponentially higher than national averages, according to federal and tribal data and officials.”

We get to Wounded Knee as the sun is slipping away. The air is hanging on to a momentary light – dusty pink illuminating the grass flats. There is nothing but a highway sign, front and back in hand-painted letters. Like the gas station, we almost missed it. We walk up the rutted track to the hilltop in the near-darkness. With an empty bladder and a full tank of gas, I feel less scared. In fact, as we enter the tiny cemetery perched on the cusp of the setting sun, I’m not scared at all. I feel a great peace settle over the great uneasiness in my chest. We survey the mass-grave with solemn acknowledgement.

“Daryl Walking, 46, a former Marine who said he has been drinking since he was a boy, said he spends three nights a week in jail for public intoxication and the other four in the cold.”

There’s no way to bottle this sensation and bring it back to the Interstate. No way to convince anyone that a four-hour drive on winding two-lane highways is worth every cent of gas. No way to explain that a non-Native has a responsibility to drive through the reservation with an open mind and an open heart. I guess that’s why we have the New York Times.

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North

After the worst summer of our lives comes autumn. The trees explode with color. You call me while I’m washing the dishes, and I pick up the phone with soapy hands, the water dripping down my arms to my elbows.

“Let’s go north,” you say, and I say yes before I can think about saying no.

We drive along highway 35 and reach the shores of Lake Superior as the sun is sinking into the water. The golden rays set the trees on fire.

“Wow,” you say. I nod. It’s the most we’ve spoken since we left the cities.

We drive up to the cabin in the dark, and it’s much colder than I anticipated. The door is stuck fast, and it takes both of us pushing against it before it finally scrapes back against the floorboards. I strike a match, and the room is illuminated for hot second, shadows jumping back against the log walls. The smell of dust and disuse rises out of the darkness. Everything is quiet.

Rather than attempt to make the main room livable, we drag blankets into the sunroom and curl up on the floor.

“Do you think there are rats in here?” I whisper fearfully.

“I’ll protect you.”

Across the lake, a loon calls out, the sound both eerie and comforting.

The morning sun wakes us a little before six. I rise from the floorboards and stretch, achy from sleeping on a hard surface without a pillow. You pull a blanket over your head and roll over, stubbornly resisting the day.

“Come on sleepyhead.” I nudge you with my foot. “Get up.”

We decide to drive into town for coffee. The morning air is chilly and smells like rotting leaves, and I inhale great deep breaths of it through the open window. Main Street is just as we remember, but we drive slowly anyways, pointing out familiar sights and reminiscing while the drivers behind us honk and curse. Finally we pull into the café long-known and well- loved.  The world smells like bacon and coffee and burned toast. I sigh in anticipation.

After breakfast (you, buttermilk pancakes with extra syrup and coffee with cream, me, huevos rancheros and coffee, black) we stock up on groceries and head back to the cabin. I attack the dust and dirt that’s built up since May, and you chop wood, a task you secretly hate but pretend to love. It’s a man thing, I guess, and I feel pleasantly domestic as I sweep out the debris. No mice.

Dusk falls quickly, and we eat by candlelight at the table. Our voices no longer echo but fill the room, and I feel a great peace enter between us – the cabin has become home once more.

That night we make love like we haven’t in months. You slide your fingers through my hair and I allow myself to moan just once, a soft cry into the silence. We sleep wrapped around each other, and when I wake up in the morning, your arm still encircles my waist.

We stay a week, or a little less, and then we pack up the car and bolt the front door.

“Winter will come early this year,” you say as we drive the highway curves back towards civilization. I nod and lean my seat back as far as it will go, closing my eyes and letting part of me stay for just a little bit longer.

I’m washing dishes when you call, and I pick up the phone with soapy hands.

“Hello?” I say, and your voice is weaker than the last time we spoke.

“Let’s go north,” you say softly, and I feel my eyes fill with warm salt.

“I wish,” I said, envisioning driving along the shores of Lake Superior, the smell of the air in the autumn woods, the sound of a loon echoing across the water. “How are you feeling?”

You sigh, your breath a rush of crackly air against my ear. “I’ll be there this afternoon,” I promise. “I’ll bring you something to eat.”

“Okay.”

I hang up the phone and finish the dishes. Dry my hands. Fold the banana bread in foil and drive out to the hospital. Hold your hand while you cough and spit mucus into a plastic dish.

“Tell me a story,” you say, leaning back against a stack of pillows. “About us.”

So I do.

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Freedom.

Here is a story I’ve told no one else.

My little brother drank himself to death.

He was eleven.

There is a field behind my house.

He and his friend P.J. stole two bottles of vodka from P.J.’s uncle.

By the time they found them, the bodies were cold.

I don’t tell anyone, ever.

Instead, I tell them about the trailer with the broken steps and peeling paint.

I tell them about working at Burger King every night until midnight so my mom could pay rent. She works too.

I tell them about my older sister who married my ex-stepfather the day she turned eighteen.

I am no longer ashamed of where I am from, because I am long gone.

One morning, I woke up and realized my roommate had vomited all over the floor.

I stepped around the puddles of rancid stomach acid and went to class.

This is my life now.

I eat salads for lunch.

I run on the treadmill. Five miles. Every day. I’m getting faster.

I have a boyfriend. He doesn’t hit me.

I get good  grades. I have always gotten good grades, but no one makes fun of me for them anymore. Instead, my adviser told me I had talent. I can be proud of myself. I am proud of myself.

I don’t go home for Christmas anymore. I spent last Christmas at my boyfriend’s house. On Christmas morning, I called home, but the phone number was no longer in service.

Now.

I can be somebody.

 

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Flume

For my best friend:

August heat. Crickets drone in the far-off fields. The sun is a dusty circle in the sky. The stereo plays a mix For You, songs we shared in middle school that assault our ears with nostalgia and shared embarrassment, rolling out the windows to greet the cows standing inert in the afternoon.  We are the only streak of motion in this pastoral summer scene, following the dark current of the canal to the flume.

When we park the car, the back wheels hang over the dirt edge. “Grab these,” Annabelle says and hands me two worn chunks of Styrofoam. I tuck them under one arm and follow her down the  gravel path to the rushing water. We trace the path down to where the canal rushes and roars through a cement chute before flowing peacefully out to the reservoir.

“Jesus,” I say. The water is a crisp white and cold spray collides with the hot air. Fear crawls up the backs of my knees, claws at the small of my back.

“Take my hand,” Annabelle shouts into my ear. I grasp it and we creep along the cement shore to the very top of the flume.

Water blasts past us to the bottom of the narrow cement gully. I’m holding my breath in my throat, but her face is serene as an sculpted angel. I tip forward suddenly and let out a scream. The sound shoots off the far wall and is quickly swallowed by the white foam. “Fuck.” I regain my balance at the last second by grabbing hold of one of the long thin branches stretched over the canal. Thorns cut my palm, but I let out my bottled breath in a sigh of relief.

“Are you okay?”

“Yeah.” We pause for a minute before continuing our slow steps towards the top of the flume.

Finally we reach the top. The canal is peaceful here,  flowing along smoothly without warning of the sudden drop ahead. We clamber down the sloped bank, loosening chunks of dirt and rock.

We each hold a piece of styrofoam and wade out into the knee-deep water. The current washes the fear from behind my knees, clear and encouraging. Come forward, the water laughs. Ride of your life.

“You’re crazy,” I say aloud, to the water. To Annabelle and myself. To the warm afternoon saddling my shoulders.

Annabelle turns towards me. “I love you too,” she says. “We’re not going to die.”

I nod and grin and sit with a splash on styrofoam, feet braced against the hard bottom of the canal. Annabelle lets go first. I hear her voice echo down the chute, a mixture of fear and glee and exhilaration. Next.

Unthinking, I lift my feet. Whoa. The current shoves me forward, the styrofoam brushes the slippery algae along the bottom and as the canal sweeps forward and steepens, the world becomes a tunnel of dirty concrete and clean blue sky. I’m screaming, laughing, forgetting and yet still forming words with trembling lips. In front of me lies a green abyss, the final slow meander of the canal before it flows into the reservoir.

“Watch out!” Annabelle screams, and panic hops onto my swiftly careening craft.

“For what?” I ask, but my question disappears without reaching her ears. I plunge down and outwards, floating into the green pool of water. The pool is deep, but the current pushes me farther towards the open water. I spot Annabelle’s warning, a jagged triangle of concrete lurking under the surface inches from where I was spat from the flume. My silent prayers reach up into the hot sky.

We float on our backs, our hair streaming through the murky water. The world is upside down; the mountains point downwards in the distance. “Let’s go again.” Annabelle lifts her head. Her mascara is running in hurried streaks down her cheeks. Just the idea brings the tingles back to my limp body and fills me with a fearful energy.

“Sure.” Why else would we be here?

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It Begins With a Dangerous Dream

Those first few moments of the day are the best. The seconds where you slip out of sleep and into your conscious life, but before you are quite aware of it; nothing makes sense. Dreams fade behind you and the day slides into focus. Today is Friday. It is February. I have work at 9 a.m. Eric has already left for work; his pillow is on the floor. I need to shower. Eggs for breakfast. I can hear rain.

I’m out of the shower and drying my legs before I remember my dreams, and then I close my eyes tight and try to remember more. Because I can feel something, a shadow on my heart, a pull in my belly, a deep emotion that has no name but that I want to experience more fully. We were in the library. Maybe I was working, or maybe not. But he was there. The man who I’ve only  begun to acknowledge and say yes, I know you, and I want to know you better.

He is not my husband. I met him a few weeks ago when he came into the library looking for a book of poems. As soon as his request dropped from his lips, I took a second look at him, his hair dripping, his eyes wild and bright and unnaturally blue. I’ve never been attracted to a man with blue eyes before. But I was attracted to this one. I found him the book and he smiled, said thank you, but it was the eyes that stayed with me. And when he came back, a few days later, we talked about those poems, and I could feel an unusual tightness in my stomach, my face flushing and my words tripping over themselves in an effort to reach his ears.

“I’ve never seen you here before,” he said. “I was in Nicaragua last year,” I say. I swallow the words, “With my husband.” Then he’s gone, and I have my first crush in years. I wait for him every few days, and we exchange a few words, and I feel like I’m seventeen again, wearing mascara and blow-drying my hair on days I feel are likely to be poetic. I tell my (loving) husband about my day, but I leave him out, naturally.

In a way, it feels good to keep something from him.

Who knows where dreams come from? Maybe they come from the same place as the love you never asked to feel, never imagined you’d receive. You wake up one day and there you are, trapped by your own subconscious desires, trying hopelessly to  make sense out of them in the daylight. Danger is suddenly lurking in every corner of my day; I am waiting for that shadow and deep emotion to leak into my life and ruin everything. For this reason, I avoid my husband. Even in my dream I could feel his anger.

But I could also feel the thrill of breaking away and doing something out of pure want. I don’t feel guilty; I feel empowered.

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The Dance Teacher

I taught those blackberries to dance

Put on some music and said

Show me what you’ve got

Like there is No Tomorrow and

You can sleep every night

For the rest of your life.

 

We are snowflakes!

Move your hips slow, easy

Every one of us is unique

And we can wish upon each other

Like new stars in the sky

 

Don’t shake your head like that!

Makes my neck hurt to look at you

Watch the others, darling

You have bells on your toes

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