I am from libraries,
from shiny hardcovers and worn paperbacks.
I am from the neighbor’s squeaky swingset,
Green seats, rusted chains,
The setting of a thousand shared stories and kingdoms.
I am from the cottonwoods,
The soft seeds soaring in the Kansas wind to tickle our noses.
I’m from mega-churches and minivans,
From Celinda’s small town and David’s many neighborhoods.
I’m from private-school indoctrination that kept me “in”
And a hidden identity that kept me “out,”
From bubble-wrapped protective prejudice and a distrust of progress and change.
I’m from the grief of spiritual deconstruction
And the joy of rebirth and new knowing.
I’m from suburban Wichita and lush Ohio valleys and downtown Oklahoma City,
From spicy, hearty chili and soft, sweet cinnamon rolls.
I am from the love and relief in my husband’s embrace,
From the choice to be who I needed when I was younger.
I am the new generation in my family — the safe space in the organized chaos.
I am from the hurt of conformity and the honesty of rebellion.
I flip through the leaves of my literature,
I listen to the leaves of the cottonwoods,
And I reflect and I learn and I accept
That where I’m from is nowhere near as lovely as where I’ll go to next.
as is the sea marvelous
hands which sent her forth
to sleep upon the world
and the earth withers
the moon crumbles
one by one
stars flutter into dust
but the sea
does not change
and she goes forth out of hands and
she returns into hands
and is with sleep….
Cresting over the skin with a razor, a young woman learns the ins and outs of the society she is in, the blood and tears it takes to be seen, and for someone to love her back, all the while, a Swiss boy, age eight or nine, steals their mother’s makeup and paints on a smile, knowing just how, on the inside, the norms are becoming ever more fragile.
As our city breathes its crowded air, a little boy tries to stifle a heaving sob so that his *****-furious father won’t hear his lack of 11-year-old testosterone and teach him another hard lesson about being a man; six miles northeast of the boy, an undergraduate studying to be a teacher breathes deeply with self-satisfaction because eight months ago to the day he made the decision to stop inhaling and exhaling the skunk-smelling substance that dulled his own mind and hurt his chances of sharpening minds younger than his.
The two of them don’t know yet, but each stifled or satisfied breath brings them closer together, and they’ve needed each other for months—after the young man earns a diploma and the young boy earns his first locker: both will teach each other to feel proud; both will motivate each other to grow stronger; both will, unknowingly, lead each other to a resolute vitality without fear or shame or guilt because
and feel whole
and feel empowered
and feel strong
and feel ready
to breathe wonderfully deep again and again and again.
Morning after morning, the wrinkled man rises with the sun, pours a cup of coffee, sitting—listening for the train to roar by, the same track a much younger man, is cramming his brain full of numbers by, to get where he wants to go, an engineer, who was fascinated by trains at an early age.
As the city continues to grow crowded, and concrete confines the mind, the birds up north begin their epic journey, breaking free, leaving their homes behind, from high above the year’s first snow, the birds must think, I bet humans wish they could fly away from it all.
Down the hatch it went
A lit match
With an aged twist
Friends warn you
Of what’s to come
The end is no longer out of sight
Your body craves it
Your arms shake
As you laugh on
Trembling through the night
A lit match
With an aged twist