He was never articulate, educated yet unimaginative. He knows this. He knows I know this.
It is not that I expect poetry over prose. I am the writer between the two. It is an old anxiety only recently resurfaced.
He does not write to me. Instead he sends me sketches.
One of coffee in a paper cup, planes in the background through large thick windows. One of the rails of a balcony with a river rushing below. One of me, lip bite and eyes shining as I watched him go.
His words are simple, “I miss you” and “thank you.”
In my letters, I ask him about the weather, he sketches the rain on the window. I ask him if he is keeping busy, he sketches a sketch of him sketching within a sketch of him sketching.
I ask him if he’s lonely, he sketches my face among the rumpled blankets of morning, sun streaking from the windows behind me. He sketches two children playing invisible violins and reading each other’s palms.
Her ghost does not haunt these pictures, and I wonder where he keeps her now.
If her wrapped body still hangs heavy in his hands, if the slideshow in his mind still flashes on her crumpled body. If he still blames himself for being moments too late.
I know he does.
I ask him if he had forgiven himself, he sketches houses rebuilt and clear skies. In a moment of weakness, I ask him if I will ever see him again. To this he replies with words, hand scrawled and sloppy, “I count the days, my dearest friend.”
Chicago wants your hands, the creases of your knuckles, the calluses on fingers. New York is hungry for your history, a collection of the photographs your mind took and formed into line and oil. Boston knows too well the way you weave your words onto a canvas.
I am just a girl in New Mexico sitting by window sill, bandaging the blisters, filling journal with words that belong to the last picture left on the your palms.
I am too soaked to continue to sponge the pain that leaks over your rim.
You are wasting time among desert, choking on the dry memories of youth, attempting to rebuild the house you burnt to the ground ten years ago.
You have not built a home in my bed, you are merely hiding there, tracing eternity on my sheets pretending to be the boy who left me at the train station.
They call to reclaim their wayward son, posing pretty, waiting for your hands to reclaim their essence.
I always knew you would be leaving. The Atlantic has called you ever since she first saw your hands, ever since she first watched you take a picture of her with the photography of your mind and place her colors to canvas.
She adores you and she is calling.
I am no match to her pull.
She is not alone. Your mailbox overflows with eager offers. Everyone wants a piece of your madness.
Yet, I had you first, and selfishly want to tether you near. I want every painting to be a sunrise we watched. I want every part to be you and me. I want to wrap myself in this home we have created.
But there are oceans in your eyes, and when you look at me I see crashing waves and city streets. What can the desert offer such a boy with a mind for the minute and hands like yours always drawing themselves.
I knew it was just a matter of time before you work your way east, leave me to the west.
Orange shirts stand guard at the gates: sentries on either side protecting the children lost to residential school travesty; the sun-bright orange shines like a miracle, rooted amidst tragedy.
A sacred fire burns with tobacco offerings — peace mixes with the perfume of petrichor; Summer Solstice is here, but following a sticky-sweet heat wave, the clouds grieve and the wind rages
for the unmarked graves of children.
(but is this mine to grieve?)
Elsewhere, I imagine drums beckon thunder with the rain, and ribbon skirts and jingle dresses flash like lightning; nature grieves in sync with First Nations peoples — and of course: this is their land first.
Their cries bring a miraculous movement across a country; a so-called sovereign land built on the bones of babies whose culture and language was beaten and raped from their bodies.
(but is this mine to grieve?)
This is the tragedy: that it took too-many years for children’s souls to escape their dirt-prisons; the miracle is in the sun-bright orange shirts, the powerful grief of nature: that raging wind which calls the children home again.
And the sky opens: the lightning flashes, the thunder crashes; every sound above is a child crying — a parent, sister, brother, friend… sighing a breath of hopeful miraculous relief that their children will finally be free.
In the twelfth mile, well after we were lost and found ourselves again, we sit on a fallen log to think about what it meant to get so seriously lost.
The scent of damp sweet grass hangs, the heavy heads of wild iris nod in the limp breeze.
It’s important to know your limits, I say, Some people never learn them, you say.
Time passes the leaves sing like water the birds rush in the trees.
Sometimes, I say, embarrassed, I wake up and watch the tendons in the back of my hands as I move my fingers and I say to myself I am a delicate machine.
You practice the motion and smile.
The knowing and sharing of a too honest secret is a miracle. My good legs that carried me well past the long hike I’d intended- a miracle to tie the body to the soul.
“I would like to be a bridge” I announce to my students. They know me and understand. Our delicate minds clasped, spanning the divide a miracle of growth and recognition.
I tell you that God has spoken to me through the new leaves of a once dead houseplant- I have been reminded that not all growth happens on the surface, my love and tender care has not been wasted. It worked!
God has asked me for my patience, I say. You don’t laugh, as you might, but tell me God speaks when we need to hear Him.
Each morning a new bloom
truly more vibrant than purple or pink,
and I appreciation this God-given joy.
Ungodly-100-degree-July-days defy any garden,
even this petunia in a blue pot struggles
reaches for water, sips dew drops with desperation
just to survive.
I sip morning coffee
and water the garden
before any heat edges over the land--
wild birds sing, eat the sunflower seed,
my dog barks as neighbors walk down the alley.
I watch in the quiet as the sun steps over the Sandias.
Marveling at this wonder a billion years old--
and count my blessings with each flower.
There is not just one bloom--
but 20-30 blessings opening in ernest.
Tears spring to my eyes because without theses blooms
my morning is empty, my heart is broken
from every yesterday's pain.