queen anne’s lace

in my head, you and i are both

nine, maybe ten years old

and the world seems bigger from down below

from long hair and crooked teeth

and we climb up the trees

i wish the air would get thin

i wish i couldn’t breathe

remember when i thought

you had a third degree burn?

but it was only queen anne’s lace

a fact i quickly learned

so we walked through the trees, and i tried

to be just like you, i tried to fit in

i always knew you’d slip away from me, i guess

it’s just a matter of when

and if you read this now, i imagine

you’d be rolling your eyes

but i still wonder about you, from time to time

ended up in your old neighbourhood

just up the street by circumstance

the white-picket fences and the neatly trimmed lawns

and no one knows you, but i thought i did

back when the differences between us

were still creeks to be hopped over

and not oceans to be crossed

call me nostalgic

or melodramatic

‘cause lately i’ve been feeling old

lately, i’ve been running my fingers 

over the pockmarked scars still left behind

from back when you were the world to me

lately, i’ve been thinking

that love never heals

it is an open wound in the back of your closet

an unfinished page you can never quite forget

and i still remember,

when we lay on the grass and it all seemed perfect in our heads

we’d be best friends forever, we’d buy an apartment 

in the city, and everything would go our way

i guess it’s easy to romanticize a time

when my feet were never sore

when my back never ached

i saw you at the skating rink, the other day

and hid my face on purpose

which goes to show, there’s not much that’s changed

i still read the books we read

and my parents still make jokes about the things we used to do

after all this time,

i still don’t know what to say to you

weeping summer

this summer, the trees buckle 

under the weight of september

an unwelcome guest, she comes too soon

her raindrops drip down my cheeks

and the ice-cold water only ever

gets up to my  toes

so i run as fast as i can for the horizon

in search of better days

but my limbs are not my own

as jagged tree-branches rip at my clothes

and oh god, what am i getting into?

so i try to speak, but i’m all out of air

as the commercials play on loop

and butterflies dance in my hair

and i try to find you

between messages unsent

i sit at my desk, sunday afternoon

spinning out codes on the floor

of my good old living room

i think about gods i don’t believe in

and things i’ve got to do

before i’m gone

isn’t it fun? how the things you hated

soften under a rose-coloured touch

how in the hindsight of the present,

maybe my elders knew a thing or two

i run out on the driveway

a second, maybe two

and feel the water soak through my shirt

let me be the waterfall

of bitterness and hurt

let me be careful what i wish for

let me get my dream come true

let me sit at the end of the tunnel

surrounded by light, and think

oh god, what am i going to do?

vertigo swirls around my stomach

i don’t like wind in my hair

i don’t like happenstance or wilderness

i don’t like breathing in this air

but i do, i do, i do

i want to be her

i want to be her, that person

who smiles and sets the room ablaze

i want to be that person, who’s got energy

and patience for days

who solves your problems with the flick of her hand

i want to be her

who exceeds all expectations

who sends the crowds roaring 

with unanimous applause

and make the grade with room to spare

and they’d all say she’s doing good, that girl over there

i want to be her, holding you in strong arms

unshaking, unbreaking, solid and strong

i want to drive you across the city

quiet your fears with the touch of my palm

i want to be her, that girl

who is liked and who is loved

whose muscles do not ache

whose shoulders never buckle

beneath the weight of it all

i want to be her

who has never sunk to the ground with muddy knees

a tired back, and told the water

that her eyes have turned to jade

that her arms are frozen inside casts of marble

before sunrise, she’ll be a statue

i want to be her

graceful and elegant and always on time

chipping away the flaws in her marble,

she’ll replace it in due time

july 14th 2022

my dearest,

i slept through the earthquake

not one but both times, and i’m glad i wasn’t looking

i’m glad i didn’t know, glad i didn’t get a phone ’til one year later

call me sentimental, or nostalgic

or fucking sixteen

i don’t know

my darling,

i’ve had a lump in my throat for years now

and i’ve never told you that before

i’m sorry for all the times i’ve been anything less

than forthright, or honest

i get in my head about these things

i bite my tongue, and i trip over my feet

and i zoom in so far on the screen, i can’t see

what any of this means

my love,

sometimes, i look into the mirror

and i try to see it through your eyes

and for a moment, i feel pretty, and warm

and absolutely fine

i’m trying to be better at that

trying not to dig rabbit holes into my brain

bury myself six feet under, before i go half-insane

and so i run around in circles

i run until my legs hurt

until the world is a shimmering mirage down the highway

until i can’t hear my voice over the traffic’s roar

and sweetheart,

i don’t know if i’ll be hanging

around here anymore

by the water

where the river splits in two

where capillaries merge into throbbing veins

where i lie on the floor and think please not again

where i wait out the storm, ‘til the lights flicker on

you tell me what it means

you pick the symbolism out of tea leaves

and poetry, i just make this shit up

i just swallow my tongue, and wait for days

to puke it up

losing faith

i’ve been toughing it out

for most of this year

trust me, it’s not a good thing to do

i’ve been biting back the bitter thoughts

that surface, no matter how hard i try 

to be nice, and agreeable, to nod and smile

but my thorns always seem to regrow,

and so i guess i’ll have to accept this too

i look at the stars one night, but it’s pouring with rain

i hide in the roof’s overhang, and bank on decency

tell myself

there is no mountain that i cannot conquer

if i could just want it enough

want to reach the top at any price

and maybe it’s true

but my faithless heart has grown tired

of these railroad tracks, and every time we sit down and talk

i feel so fucking old; listen to songs about nostalgia, about being sixteen

i think this is how it’s supposed to be

i lie on the ground, i look up at the vines

and i talk to my friends, my voice like a sinking stone

i’m fishing at the bottom of the pond

through leeches and silt looking for my keys

but the longer i look, the more they shift in my mind

it’s normal

it’s natural

it’s just a part of life

i’ll pull my heart out of my chest

i’ll try, real hard

and i’ll start all over again