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"When you learn
to knit," he said.
"It's not a mistake
you make; it's
the thing that
makes your work

"Each one,"
he said,
"is a signature."

I think of my
life--with all
its lumps,
tangles, rewoven ends,
dropped stitches.

You are all
my signatures.
Forty-Two:  equidistant
from twenty-two
from sixty-two.

What will happen
in this middle space:
raising kids
and sending off

Ending careers
and beginning
new ones?

What will I recover?
What will I leave behind?
Life is too short to
sit at wobbly restaurant
tables.  Get up now.
There's that word
for girls like me:
the ones who
didn't see the point
of princesses.

The active ones who
run and jump and slide
and can't be bothered
to stand around the
playground sidelines,
whispering and trading
in spots of character assassination
or information.

"Tomboys" they call
those girls
and maybe later
"butch" or
"masculine of center."

I notice how
there's never
"feminine of center."

But really,
I've always felt impatient with that word

Why should a girl who wore
dangling earrings
but liked the things they label
"boys things"
want a word that suggests she's
something other than what she's not?
An aspirational boy?

A girl who grew up into
a closeted girl
with short hair, no make-up and a love of

Whose first girlfriend post-coming out,
took one look and said "But you're a femme!"

Please, please, understand.
In my heart I am a pirate king,
of the eighteenth-century variety:
big sword, big earrings, big weapons.

On the threshold of middle age,
somewhere on the spectrum of gender,
What word describes me?
I need a new vocabulary
to describe happiness now.

I didn't expect it,
the need for new words
to say "I love you."

But why not
since it means,
you mean,
how much more
than the sum total
of what was before?

Not to be measured out,
counted and qualified,
but felt along the
fibers of my heart.

I say those words
with a new clarity ,
a depth and humility,
springing up
from my heart

not the mouthings,
vain whispers,
of others' dreams.

Woken up now
I speak happiness
that is mine.
Even though the conversations
were often fraught, too heavy
with all of the unspoken
emotions and accusations,
guilt and grudges,
I still wish
I could pick up the phone.

Even though I had to
watch the time
to make sure that I called
before you went too far
down into
the daily hell
of alcohol,
before ethanol
loosened your tongue
and sent words spinning
off into the white cellular noise,
so you mumbled fragments
that I parsed like fragile papyri,
I still wish I could hear your voice.

Even though I would worry
about what you would be like with my kids,
I still wish you could see them.

Seven time we've done this now, and
I'd still like to know
what you'd think about it all.
ALCOA alcoholism grief life death mother
When I think of Jonah,
it's not the storm
or the casting out
on shore, redeemed,
I think of.

I think of the
3 days in the
whale's belly--
the watching
the waiting.
Nothing to do
about it.

3 days.
A whale's belly.
A thing I can't

Only, I imagine
the anxiety
the fear
the misery.

And, finally,
the light
the shore.
The casting forth.

What got
churned away?
What was left behind
in the process?
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