A Year Ago

a year ago you smiled at me

and you were everything I thought I needed
this new me
a lesson
in the difference between
true practice and proselytizing
kind, safe, sweet
but when the timer hit zero
in your heart you had already left me
only your pride remained
the one tie that bound you to me
you would not be the one to leave
so a new waltz began, and I let you lead
unable to keep up with broken feet
the song irrelevant
because your mouth was incapable of the words “I’m sorry”
so all the reasons you fell in love with me
suddenly made me an aberration to be tolerated
so we’d never speak of things like love again
unless it was a negotiation
a bribe to sate me
a tithing to pay off our indulgences
to placate me so I’d leave you to drink in peace
you see, a year ago learned a lesson
about the pain in healing and the strength in vulnerability
about refusing to silence my needs just to quell your demons
about believing in me no matter how low you dimmed my lights
about not picking up baggage that does not belong to me
just because my shoulders were suddenly unburdened
because eventually you stopped trying to carry it yourself
because eventually you tried to swap the nametags when I wasn’t looking
because eventually you dropped them off in a hotel lobby
while I, fast asleep, still fought to have some faith in you
and now I have new baggage bursting at the seams with someone else’s shit
a year ago I found myself behind a stranger’s walls
because it was what I needed to see
a year later I grieve
for the love that stranger was when he wasn’t trying not to be
and not a day goes by that I don’t miss that
but don’t think for a moment that means I can’t go on
you were a piece of my life
because I wanted you
not because I needed you to make me whole
and every tear that rolls down my face comes
from a deep well of laughs, smiles, and whispers
that speak to my spirit
and when I release them it’s a celebration of what you’ll always mean to me
that you who was not a stranger
because falling in love is not a fixed moment
but countless points on our timeline
so when I say I miss you
it’s not desperation, but a keening
for everything I meant when I said I loved you
everything I was in your arms
not because you held me together
but because my heart is better for having held you in it

I never thought there would be things I couldn’t tell you
But here we are
Strangers who sometimes remember we’re in love
That all the lifting up to see the sunrise over my own fog
Would lead to another wall
Each brick a cop-out for weakness you want to believe you possess
That you would come to embody
Every wound you promised not to inflict
I never thought
“You make me want to be better”
Would be a lie
To distract me from the implosion
Of every strong thing that we are
That all my love and vulnerability
Would be reshaped into weapons
Thrown in my face to make me a monster
Who only ever did as you asked
I never thought
The man who was so madly in love
That he believed in me when I could barely breathe
Could so quickly turn his back
That the things that once made me beautiful
Would suddenly just make me broken
I never thought
Someone who would make me feel so safe in his arms
Could hear I wanted to die
And say nothing
That the heat of passion would turn cold
Mocking me to my face
Hunting down my darkest demons
My deepest weaknesses
Then accuse me of raping his insecurities
Nailing my every fear to the door to his heart
I never thought
There were words I could not speak
Never imagined ugly shame
At hands that touched so tenderly
Never imagined anything from you but acceptance
Never thought this love could be skin deep
But here we are
Because there are things I can’t show you

Our History

I have had the time to write these words
ruminating and revising
editing my truth
the very evidence of my privilege written in ink
the pigment of my skin securing me an extra word
but everyday
I read about a life i will never understand
damaged permanently
erased and forgotten
and I am speechless
but I can no longer hide on this page
this pen insufficient
for the rage I feel at the core
of a body that was regulated
raped the moment it began
to grow in my mother’s womb
forced to give birth
to blame and subjugation
because I should have fucking known better
than to open my legs and expect it all to be ok
these legs that carry us through
these legs that march
these legs that kick through every wall you build around us
and if I should be on one list I will be on them all
let my name be my oath
that we have not forgotten history
that you cannot eradicate
the Rosa Parks, the Harvey Milk, the Mahatma Gandhi, the Judith Heumann
and every other warrior running through our veins
yelling our declaration
you cannot outlaw our existence
and we are bigger
than the hands you use to sign us into a corner
we hold these truths to be self evident
and we will burn your house to the ground
and throw ourselves into the flames
so our children will know what it is to breathe without fear
so go ahead
smirk, sign, talk
celebrate your victories over a divided country
as we come together to write a new story
not of Muslims, queers, women, people of colour, or people with disabilities
but a culture of people
who are done letting someone else
edit our history

act sorry
act hurt
act like you’ve ever longed for me
like the hole it will leave in your life wont just be filled in and smoothed over
as if I never fit in your arms like they were made for me
act like you loved me
held me
desired me
with a passion so intense
I believed it
trusted it
surrendered to it
act like you didn’t want to hurt me
like the tears I’m going to cry won’t dry alone
like you’ll hear my voice in the back of your mind
and feel anything that resembles the pain you’re causing
act like maybe for a moment you were devastated
act like i was worth fighting both of our demons
just to kiss one more time
like I brought any life to your light
even a single good memory
to make the time we shared
unsullied by the goodbye
act like the woman you fell in love with
is still inside me
and shes shattered
act like you care at all
that I’m going to be awake in the middle of the night
cold with a dying soul
that I’ll spend days wondering where I went wrong
where I was so broken
that you ┬ájust couldn’t bear another
I love you
even if none of it’s true
even if all of that is more than you can do
act sorry

It Seems

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It seems I’ve misplaced

all the sweet nothings you once gave free
and I know they’re here somewhere
but I wonder if they still look the same
It’s seems I’ve lost
the key to your thoughts
the windows, they’re dark
and too high for me to reach
It seems I’ve forgotten
the code to your speech
and face value is cheap these days
It seems I’ve mixed up
the words to the songs you used to play for me
And it seems I’ve lost
my way to your heart
but I’ll keep walking in circles
until you push me away
tell me to leave
It’s seems I still think
there’s a place here for me
It’s seems I’m no longer sure
of anything

My Truth

I have wrapped myself in galaxies, laughed at the stories the stars have to tell
Felt the core of the earth tremble with ecstasy, been held by rolling hills when I could not stand
I have flowed with the river, soothing and patient as it shaped me, picking up rocks along the way
Risen with fire as flames dance to my rhythm
I have traveled to the unseen depths of my soul, fought the demons that call my shadows home
Returned whole
And yet, I cannot find myself
In the prints that mark these journeys
The songs in the trees
The gentle kisses on the cool breeze
Enough to believe this broken body could be
The blessed result of the sacred union of Above and Below
the wish
the goal
the plan
the dream
But the sunrise tells me “have hope”
But the sunset says “just wait and see”
So I will keep dancing, keep burning, keep breathing
Listening when the earth whispers secrets
Trusting these roads to lead where I need
Bathing in the sun’s warmth, brilliant with love
And I will find my peace
In the transience of the moon
Grateful that each speaks to me in ways some people never learn to hear
And someday
When my journey has ended
My lessons complete
I will see myself reflected in the hearts of my tribe
And I will know truth

I Have

I have loved you a hundred times
The faces change
But the eyes remain
I have learned to ride your waves
Like the rain
Holding my breath
Trying not to drown
To navigate your labyrinth by touch
Knowing whatever lies at its core is felt not seen

I have sung the song in your heart
Harmonizing with mine
Your metronome the only thing that still has time for me
A dance that takes my breath away
But only until midnight when the spell is broken
And I’m back to reality

I have left the window to my soul open wide
And you’ve watched me for years
There are no surprises here
You know exactly who I am
Just sometimes up close
I look like a mirror
Broken in places you cannot ignore

I have not kept score so you always win
Over and over again
Folding paper boats that quickly take on water and sink in any depth

I have felt us fall
From promises that were not ours to make
Expectations we had no right to raise
Not far enough to call it Hell
Where we just sit and wait
The penance for our refusal to walk away

I have seen you reincarnated to keep trying
I have seen your love keep dying
Somewhere in the back of my mind I’m lying to myself
Because one of us will push too hard
One of us will give up hope
One of us will vanish in the fog one day
And I will blame myself
Because it’s easier to be the villain than the one who remains

I have lost you a hundred times
And the taste never goes away
But I will always try to have faith that this time you’ll stay with me
Because no matter how many times I hear the world say “I love you”
The only one I crave is the one from your lips