In six words I can sum up
everything I’ve learned about life:
you can’t make somebody love you.
(& if you try it’s just likely
that you need to love yourself first.)
Even pop songs these days remind us
that self-love is the first love
but days pass like tests and I’ve
measured out my life in
gratitude lists that pile up in corners
of apartment buildings that will
never be home until I build the home
within and use these habits as kindling
for the warmth I come to give myself —
reading my own story in the glow
of the palm of my hand.
Tracking compulsions like the seasons
It’s in the repetition that we find the
Seeds of insecurity
All the black holes we hide within ourselves
Covered up and patted over like
Wet sand on a summer day
To dig in, to dig deep
To plunge into all the places that
You don’t want to go
There’s the calling
There’s the meaning
I exist here, softly,
In the sound between breaths,
In glances caught like fish hooks,
In the invisible once it is seen.
I’ve been reminded that
It is easy to overlook our humanity.
In cases where some of us do not
Live like humans, it is easy to
Withdraw, to simply remove your presence
As protest and in that nothingness
Nothing happens. The nothing shifts
And the weightlessness is overwhelming.
Stars burn out over roofless homes.
Two worlds are layered one
On top of the other. In the blindness
Children sleep, bellies grow round
In satiation or starvation. Here
Women carry new worlds beneath
Their breasts and when life splits open
The layers remain. The invisible is always
Seen and unseen, heard and unheard,
Lived and unlived.
I’m stuck in the reflection of myself
As a small child, palms up and beseeching.
Only children embody helplessness
In a way that makes vulnerability crumble.
I keep my palms together most days
Parting to graze objects on my path:
Telephone poles, fences, overgrown
Weeds that make way to barricade the streets.
The inanimate is a reminder that
If forgotten we will not fall
From the face of this earth.
I’m sometimes submerged into the lines
On my palms as if there were a secret
As if to uncover something I didn’t
Already know about the fronts and
Backs of my hands.
Hands tell a story and for some
The story is hands up,
whereas others clasp hands
A showmanship of strength or
Solidarity — the status quo
That wraps tightly around the fingers.
A story of constraint.
In Hindu mythology the image of
One open palm facing upwards,
One open palm facing downwards
Indicates the balance between teaching
And learning, the concept of
Grasping that which flows towards us
And releasing that which flows away.
Palms forward and eyes closed on
City streets I worry that I am only
Capable of receiving,
Only capable of taking —
Feeling an infinite chasm of want.
Chasing lonely men down city streets
Palms forward singing the song of
A caretaker who knows that all
Giving is a form of receiving.
Palms open and gripping the tenacity
Of being a being in space
I open to receive, I open to
Forget and thus impart.