Imagine if at any given time someone could choke or slap
or scream at your sister
and all you could do is try and convince them not to
from the other end of the phone.
And sometimes they listen,
but sometimes they don’t,
or they don’t ask at all.
You learn later when you see
On those long weekends,
you rest in a widow’s house
and eat more than you could stomach
all week at home. In the other room,
your brother sleeps, and you promise
to get through the next four days
to see him again.
the sun on your back becomes your friend—
anything warm is good. If you are feeling,
you can still smile. When customers come
to the window and hand you two dollars
for a hot dog, you learn to thank them.
No matter which bed you sleep in,
you learn to clutch the rosary closer
to your chest each time. Maybe
the white knuckles and sweaty palms
will prove your devotion. You know
you are probably not happy, but
one day ten years from now you might
wear a white dress and kiss someone you love.
Your brother would walk you down the aisle
even if your father won’t. You wonder
when your heart became the enemy.
You wonder if it will ever be anything else.
Embrace the nothing of the night
with your bodies, creating something,
a light of your own. Settle with the silence
and let your breath together be all.
Carry this moment in your heart
when the sun rises, and the memory
will carry you. There was love, once;
there will always be love. One day
the sun will not rise and there will still be love.
should become a holy word on your lips.
Fingers brush skin with a softness you did not know
you had. This is truth – love is truth. The hardness
of the past lied to you. The sharp edges in your heart
are lying, the holes in your spirit could not have known
better. Love will teach you butterfly kisses
and grace on your fingertips, light in your veins.
Three men step with the grace of air
into an upstairs room, slipping between
our bars and windows to bend
their backs over a cot with stained sheets
and a shuddering form, arms twisted
over her head, chest unmoving as the night.
Their hands grasp every fragment,
inspecting shrapnel in translucent
fingertips, light reflecting from the
edges to reveal holes that she
herself could not have known of:
Bruises, slits, and tears through which
the light leaked, seeping out over the
years to leave a shell of little holes,
which within a wounded spirit leaves
a shadowed husk, a swallowing abyss.
With hands as firm as a foundation,
eyes as sharp as steel, the men will
scrub each shard with the edges of
their robes, in silence always, daring
not to speak of what they understand:
Before the night is out, they will bend
their heads over another form just like
this one, worn edges to be bound, and
somewhere a psyche so gently sewn
together again has begun its unraveling.
But, as a bone, it fuses stronger upon
its healing, each stitch more aware than
ever of its own vitality, and these men
need not fear that they will run out of
thread or that a pricked finger may bleed.
Perhaps in your unraveling, you’d notice
how very lightly they press, the tears
that spring to their eyes upon the sight
of another stitch snapping, the smallest hole
swelling in the faintest corner of your heart—
How white their robes stain each heartstring
so cautiously unknotted, with such a strength
that it may burn at first, but with an ache
of swift forgiveness and continual repair.
These men soon fade and do not wait for thanks,
appearing to us as a dream of healing.