We all have so many pictures
of ourselves these days, our own
photography of us, on our phones,
on our tablets, our own portraits
taken for granted and in them,
I am a woman changed from who I was.
My hair, a graying color of bark, of limb
of Cottonwood tree, each of my eyes,
a well closing slowly as if the years bring
a squint to the world that determines
the end of water. My neck still smooth
like satin, but with the slight stretch of elastic.
What of it tells a story? It is not as obvious
as that of a giraffe however, but holds
years of breath and swallow, talk and scream.
All this body does, my arms, my back,
my toes. These shoulders pinned forward
in a lazy Friday slump, waiting
to stretch into more formal moments.
There is no easy way to eloquently say
something so trite as: it is hard to grow old
and still we must travel onward.
Exposed in cruel white light
The hours crash into each other
A bully’s restless hands
Tighten into apologies
The hours crash into me,
My best wishes, thoughts and prayers
Tighten into apologies
I threw myself onto this stage.
Best wishes thoughts and prayers
For the magnet in the door frame- it’ll save our lives someday
I threw myself into this
It’ll save my life someday.
Gentle hands in soft white light
Begging me to still the careening clock.
20 days in isolation,
each tally marks
my life inside: mom, teacher, wife, daughter, sister, friend, photographer, poet—the same as before, but different now.
Inside my fortress
capturing images documenting #life #istayhomefor—
1. Signs on a business’ door:
We are closed due to COVID-19 2. Empty sunsets— 3. Kano’s endless artwork— 4. Self-portraits, only in black & white, 5. Writing and writing and writing….
Tallies on the wall mark 20 days—
20 days disconnected from the world, but oddly, connected, being inside, just staying home.
© Gina Marselle, April 2, 2020
Photos below are the photographs listed in the poem, Fortress, various times throughout being in isolation, all taken on an iPhone 7 Plus.
1. Signs on a business’ door: We are closed due to COVID-19
2. Empty sunsets—
3. Kano’s endless artwork—
4. Self portraits, only in black & white,
5. Writing and writing and writing….
The clay we are molded
in will not harden. We
are not meant to last.
Even as we lay in post
coital glory, the tremble
still in my legs, the sweat
clinging to our bodies,
even now, we know
this is the end.
A moment shared, in all
its precious give and take,
touch and toss, comfort and
cross, is just a temporary
slip of the sun across sky.
Hold my body to yours, let
the sweat dry and consciousness
return to our extremities
let the sun fall on our last
day of summer. My dearest friend.
there is only my shadow
on an open empty road.
Central Avenue is deserted,
as if we built the world
for ourselves, then weren’t
able to live in it.
Our world, a dead tree cut
into circles, chopped like
pieces of hotdog or carrot rounds.
A roadrunner crosses
the rough cracked asphalt,
a silent yellow fire hydrant
in a green yard.
All that is left is a ghostbike
to memorialize us, all the beads,
all the trinkets that hang from it.
Even inside our house,
the meditation pillow
tries to be the rug. My child
disappears into a box,
his coat hanger book report
hangs alone, waits
to go back to school someday
in some uncertain future.
Fear sits in the back seat of my car-
I saw him in my rearview mirror.
His name is the pit of my stomach.
He is the face of a boy
Who tells me his father
Will beat him
If he fails.
Fear is the father.
My skin is a sack
Carrying the raw red meat of me.
He is closing the distance between us.
This is what I dread most.
The space and taught wire
Of the moment before a kiss
And a trap is sprung.
I know him.
He turned away from me
As the wind blew dust into my eyes
My hands open and close against themselves
I flutter like a moth at the window against the panes.
I’m lying on the floor again;
Watching the tile as I walk;
Holding my head as I sleep.
If I didn’t look back I wouldn’t see him.
But there he is-
Pressed into pills on my bedside table
Squeezing my stomach with a cold hand
A familiar love
Cold tongues of water lapping
at my feet.
on the tips of
so ready to give
all that I have
for one smile.
We cannot always
reach who we hope;
those we most long for
may slip as easy
as dried leaves
crushed under foot.
should always be
kept at arm’s
I pulled you in.
Let you crawl beside me,
inside me; I showed you
a different version of my face.
One so few have taken
the time to embrace.
My dearest friend,
you left blisters on my
fingertips, fresh and soft.
It will be days before
the flesh bursts and peels,
the callous forms.
They may never return to
the pink they were before
I first touched you.
Tonight, my hands ache,
and all I want,
all I ever wanted was to
offer up the kindness you
but always deserved.
To those of us who write poems, create art,
our task is to lead the thirsty to the lagoon
where the water is just cool enough to test out.
First, with a dip of the toe, then cupping
our hands around it to make a small
puddle in our palms, bring puddle to lips,
between cheeks. We cannot help them
swallow, drink, or digest, but we can point out
the deepest parts and the shallow areas
where algae grows. We can show them
how to soak their bodies in an ecosystem
they didn’t know existed. We can wear a path
in the grasslands between their home and this oasis,
where a quench is mastered before it even registers
in the mind. Our task is to show them
when the hawks dive down, to alert them
to the preying wait of the crocodile. Our task
is to make them want more, so they depend on it
and are conscious of that at their very core,
beyond even understanding thirst.
After Joy Harjo
Remember the sky you were born under-
The light and how it shadowed
Your mother’s face
How she howled and screeched-
The two of you were Human then
Remember your feet
How they carried you
Up mountains and trees
You clung to them
Remember the breeze
How it kissed you
And blessed you with its touch
You knew then what animal you were