The first time you flew you told the birds how unfair it is that the air is so much thinner up here, that below they have to breathe the crushing weight of the stratosphere just because they’re accustomed to it, and your gasping for breath doesn’t make any sound yet every day you choose life,
man and wife man and wife
placed in a gunfight with a pocket knife and a guidebook of expectations. You don’t remember filling an application for this, for now-flightless wings or for being this daughter
I will love you come **** or high water
but the first time you landed you didn’t write a thing, you just drank tea out of a paper cup, no mug in the sink, no need for anyone to look up when she came home. The first time you used the key in this new house’s door it fit so perfectly that you didn’t feel at home anymore. The *** boiled even though you watched, and you drank out of a paper cup and no one looked up, it was biodegradable and then it was gone.
The first time you flew. The first time you really saw you. The first time you heard that song called poison oak, the first time you said what you meant to say, the last time you spoke.
I remember you bringing reds and oranges back to the leaves as if you’d painted them on grey canvas where there’d only been negative space before, remember watching you watch your works of life drift to the floor. I remember you trying to look down when a perfect snowflake landed on your chin. Now I sit on the ground, just waiting to hear that your flight got in.
I remember sitting in the crowded café, remember knowing you had entered by the way the room got softer, the way the colors saturated and the crowds got smaller and the windows magnificently taller. I remember staying away. I remember being afraid. The sensation was not enough to drain the warmth or color from the room until you left it.
Kids will be kids and boys will be boys. We’re not who we are and we don’t share toys. Most days I can think of yet better things to paint and to trace than my face, but that acrylic blue, they tell me I’ll rue the day I let it highlight my fingerprints so well. And so by fall, I am scrubbing my hand off the bedroom wall. There are spikes inside my unpeeled grapes, in my father’s wine and mother explains about seeds and vines but I forget, ask, say it again, please, she says write it down instead and I tried but I can never find a pen.
In the beginning there was light and so much fight to be drunk into our very bones, not an eye sunk in, nobody drunk except on finger paint and what the stars might taste like when we thought stars were small, when there wasn’t far to fall, before the white-tiled kitchen floors grew too far away for us to notice the texture of the black mortar that held them in place like Elmer’s glue. School is a bright maze of halls that we walk through hand in hand and mark our heights against the wall, unsure whether to fly or to stall and stay close. Our eyes are level as we hopscotch round the ankles of women and men; I think we’re going to be friends. They weave a Charlotte’s web of pigtails and bright red balloons, but isn’t it just true that we feel safe close to ground, tempted upward by gold and warmth but torn, for the kitchen floor is close and nice and cool, and doesn’t burn us to the touch.