one more chance

i cannot change the world,
i cannot heal it,
i cannot even fathom it.
i am glad
that i cannot understand.
if i could, i imagine
i would only
cradle my head in my hands.
i thank you God
for my light yoke,
for my small piece
of the puzzle.
i am sorry
for my anger,
my paralysis,
for the blank stare,
for the heart-numbness.
i thank You for Your patience
and Your grace,
and most of all
i thank You for today,
for one more day,
one more chance
to figure it out.

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sorry

God, forgive me
for shattering myself against You.
or rather the graven image I made for You,
shaped with all the tongue-biting concentration
of a two-year-old with her first crayon.
You were trying to say something to the world
when You made me,
something about joy and grace.
but these days I’m afraid all I say to the world is
“leave me the fuck alone.”

Here

I stumbled through the dark places
and asked You why I was there
I tip-toed through a twisted maze of rain-slicked back alleys and one-way streets
and asked You where I was going 
dragged across the rocky bottom of a river, I fought the current to stay alive
and asked why every moment had to be a battle
like a marionette with too many hands on the strings, I was torn apart by conflicting desires
and begged to know the answer to my heart
I wandered in circles like a child lost in the woods
and looked for You to lead me out
I starved at the banquet You laid for me
rather than let go of my shame
I tore at my flesh and would’ve slipped my own skin to make You proud
yet all along You begged me to love the self I’d been born into
I strode through the open with a target on my chest, and took every bullet they shot
because You wanted me to know the hardness of my design
every morning I woke to a stone on my chest
so that someday I would be strong enough to pull myself out from under it
I held myself against a barrage of condemnation and shouldered through all manner of agonies
hoping against all past experience that one day I would awake to find myself Here
I see now that even as I lay sweating through the thick of the nightmare
morning light was gently sifting in, brushing across my eyelids, caressing my hair,
as You sat with me, Your hand on my cheek and whispering
“wake up, little girl. wake up”

if only

if only I could live my life
            in someone else’s skin.
if only I could be someplace
            where I have never been.
if only I could see the things
            I’ve never seen before.
if only I could know the future
            and plan for days in store.
if only I had all the answers
            and passed my every test.
if only I could feel the beat
            in someone else’s chest.
if only I could see myself
            with someone else’s eyes.
if only I could fix the world.
            if only I was wise.
if only I could heal the hurt
            in every human heart.
if only I knew what to do.
            if only I could start.

the wall

brick by brick she builds the wall
and smooths the mortar into place.
she doesn’t know herself beyond her hands,
which place the stones with utmost care
she doesn’t remember what lies within
which she strives so to protect
she only knows the wall.
the wall. security. protection. safety.
she doesn’t feel the pang of isolation
she doesn’t know the desolation
of her own lonesome heart
she only knows the wall.
the wall, these bricks, this mortar
the broken striving hands
the refuge of an empty mind
the ease of an empty heart

between midnight and dawn

I want to glide
Through the night like a ghost
Wafted on a soft breeze
Carried through doors and windows
Into the lives
Of those whose faces I ignore
On a walk down the street
I want to hear their troubles
I want to see their dreams
I want to be reassured
That in most ways
We aren’t so very different
We all cringe away
From the same monsters in the closet
We don’t let our hands fall
Over the side of the bed
Lest that hand be taken
In sweet caress
By the fear
We’ve hidden underneath
I want to listen to what they
Mumble in their sleep
What they say to their fridge
At 3 am when no one is around
And know that I have said
Those same things myself
Been locked in the same stillness
Of the early morning
Alone
Yet not all that alone
For between midnight and dawn
We are all together
Whispering to the silence
Of our fears and trepidation
Hiding from the stretched out shadows
On the wall
Wondering
If they’ve moved
Wanting
Someone with a still heart
To lay a hand over our sweating brow
And whisper comfort to us

perfect timing

Look, she says.  This can’t go on forever.

What do you mean?  you say.

This is getting ridiculous, she says.

You look down at the model train engine in your hands, grimed with your sweaty fingerprints and three hours of meticulous labor.

I don’t think it’s ridiculous, you mumble.

She puts one hand on a scrawny hip and glances past you into your workroom.  Her glance is quick, calculating; her eyes flash, ruthless and unfeeling as a scalpel.  Her mouth twists unattractively and

That’s when you know you’ve really gone off the deep end, she says.

Over your shoulder, you glance guiltily into your haven of mechanized, regulated, tightly controlled and perfectly timed sanity.  You shift your weight uncomfortably. 

It’s perfect, you whisper.

What’s that? she snaps.

Nothing, you say.

A tense silence stretches out between you, like a clothesline sagging under the weight of dirty laundry.  Resentments, half-muttered fears and slow-forming hatreds, dozens of pregnant silences just like this. It’s the story of your marriage, this silence, and like your marriage, neither of you wants to be the first to break it.

From over your shoulder, a single, perfectly timed engine clicks and whistles and chugs into life.

She sighs.

This can’t go on forever, she says.

I know, you say.  Then you step into your workroom and quietly close the door.