If I told you that’s the moment I ran out of that church and down the street until a stranger in a red Ford Bronco pulled over and said climb in, I would be lying. I wasn’t that brave. I looked into the kind brown eyes of the man who loved me and I said I do. I do take this man, tears of laughter streaming down my face.
The three of us shared a diary that year, a black composition book, and we’d pass it back and forth, hating and loving our parents, falling in love with eighth grade boys and math teachers and each other’s brothers – with Bruce and E. Street Band and John Lennon.
I was ready for tongue and skin and fire and molten. My nipples became a beacon for my next lover’s hands.
The universe heard me, and sent El Diablo.
A year ago I was sitting poolside with a beautiful woman my age who was raising her grandson, because her son had died. I marveled at her love and commitment, and I remember telling her I couldn’t do what she was doing.
“You could do it, she said, trust me, you have no idea how strong you are until the time comes.” Then, I never thought my time would come.
Now when I look in the mirror my mother and grandmother and great mother and even my daughter and granddaughter are staring back at me, and I’m so grateful for all of us, it helps me understand time is not linear.
All this brought me to crying in front of the coffee cart outside, making it even harder to breathe, not knowing how to ask the universe for more life, more breath, more laughter.
You leave for all of those who couldn’t, you rise out of their barely breathing bodies.
This had to happen, so I could meet the man I did love, the man who opened my heart and my legs and set me on fire, the man who would eventually die.
Because my left shoulder hurts from my grandfather’s violin. Because my knees belong to my mother.
there were men and women together again, like before we knew the word other.
This is not a poem about love – it’s how we find the compass to truth north in an old pocket in a dusty closet.
Grief and love are two of three braids – the third braid is forgiveness. We cannot love unless we are first able to forgive.
You more beautiful than I remember, your dress just a little too tight, a little too short, already forgiving yourself for being so late.
Don’t fly – you’ll miss the valleys, the abandoned cars, the Indians, the coyotes, the intersections and the signs.
When you arrive, tired and hungry, your whole self will greet you at the door.
The Russian countess bent over, smelling like Rome, like opium perfume, like cigarettes, like a future I couldn’t face.
Do I begin the moment before the light descends early afternoon, before my skin wakes into early night, before the plumeria trees become flowerless arms?
All who lived here before are still present – the woman who birthed a baby in your bedroom, the argument that still lives in the kitchen.
I pretended the psychic Russian countess had never whispered you were going to die into my ear.
I had survived my greatest challenge, but I had not committed to life fully – it was like not setting a date for a wedding, so you never have to say I do.
Everything is what death wants you to have before she takes you, clinging to earth like a vine, raining on her with hot tears of memory,