wings


remember the time you let me run ahead
and Summer chased me down,
burned me bright and shook me up
sudden as a sunshower, soft as a baby’s breath

and how you tucked some in my hair
& said “let’s stay this way forever, you and me”

back when the world would spin for us
like tireless tops on magician’s plates
and whether it was flat or round,
we vowed to never mind

for when you’re young and in almost-love, baby
there’s no fear of falling, no true land’s end
that doesn’t thrill & sparkle with the delicious notion
of a death-defying attempt at flight.

(don’t blame yourself —
once i believed this, too.)

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ever feel like this?

‘cuz i do.

every day.

we turn at Delancey just as the sky splits wide
& i’m suddenly sure there’s never been another quiet boy
quite as ill-equipped as you
to chase down a streaking sunset on these mercury streets
at the side of a girl who knows nothing but wings

i showed up with new wings
balancing like a dancer in your doorway
& you said nothing, just a frown
and turned to pour us wine.
well, at least we’ll always have that.

you with your dark eyes, so reluctant to coddle belief —
you, who sees thorns on even forget-me-nots
saying “i ruin everything i touch, so stay away”
but i knew the real truth —

how your green thumb scares you so,
leaves you beating back the cherry blossoms
that pour like early love through your bedroom window
at just a sideswept glance from you across the room.

but these are your four walls so i’ll play by the rules
& we won’t speak of things like quiet spaces
or what happens after all our everafters run their course

so i i roll my best words beneath my tongue like prized marbles
(oh how i’d shoot to win, but you’ll never play for keeps)
as you climb back inside your head and pull the shade
at the mere mention of a pearl, a feathered shudder,
a groundless fall through the loose seams of the sky

& so i sit on your floor with my flight dreams
and eat peanut butter straight from the jar
as you stare past me out the open window
and pray for rain.

please don’t hold my hand that way
unless you plan to keep it, loose and steady in your own
& we can navigate these buzzing streets in just-June
as though we never had a single place to go

soooo, letmewarnyounow:
i have a silly little propensity
for sidewalk pecks and twirling steps
& i don’t stop
for things like crowds and crosswalk signs
so if you’re signing up for some summer spins
and possibly a dip or two
please throw all practicality aside
& just laugh when i say i don’t walk in straight lines
(but please hold me back if the cars rush by)

just get up
come waste your Saturdays with me
watching acrobats in Central Park
with my head in your lap & your hand in my hair
drinking wine from paper cups
while popsicles melt all down our arms
and i am nothing if not where i’m meant to be
just for today

back-flung in the morning grass
we’ll trace dragons & tigers across the sky
and dream our separate childhood dreams
of days before this collision of u & i
(don’t ask what happens when time slides by)
just point me out a butterfly, please
and let me follow her passing wings

& it’s so simple
so laissez-faire, your claim on me.
(oh, did i ever tell you this?
 you’re nothing like i thought you’d be)

there was a moment in our history
at least half a billion years ago
when you showed up with the rain on my doorstep
& wordlessly handed me your tired past
like tattered butterflies pinned in place

& said you’d seen an angel in your apartment
scratching words into your coffee table
in languages you couldn’t understand

and would i could i did i think that maybe
the world was full of signs
and we just never learned to read them (or each other)
in the moments when it mattered?

& over your head a cloud of birds
broke open against a worried sky
and suddenly i knew
i’d never learned to believe in anything
but wings.

there’s a lot to be said for being a dreamer. (and yes, this is a memoir.) i’ve always had a propensity for seeing myself as i might be, if i moved here…or as i could be, if i did this…the possibilities seemed endless, and i loved each with the fervent devotion of one who falls infatued with something new every day. on monday, i set this vessel asail in my sea of desire, but by wednesday, that seems to glitter just a wee bit more…and surely by saturday, i’ll have flirted through yet another “perfect” picture of future happiness that drowns the formers in its wake.

i dream, therefore i am (or should i say, was). but dreaming is a far cry from doing, and this is where i got stuck, tethering my wrists to “maybe one days” and dragging anchored feet shackled by my own inability to take a risk. “just try something,” my mother would tell me. “that’s what you do. you pick something, and you try.”

and so i have. finally, after months (perhaps years? yes, surely years) of acknowleding that i was ready for a real change and a new city and a renewed lease on life, i’ve traded in the familiar streets of Albany for the hectic bustle of Manhattan. it happened so quickly i barely had time to pack my Toto and burst into color as home disappeared behind me and i spun into this wonderful city of concrete and clocks. i landed safely, swifly, a little unsure and a lot ecstatic, confident that this, here, now, is where i’m supposed to be.

and then i had a dream, two nights ago, of a wooden house whirling madly in a tornado, whisking me off the ground in a fearful flight that may or may not drop me safely or disastrously in a foreign place. how strange, the correlation of dreams and life…and not until today did i put the pieces together and see my very Dorothy-ness, a whirlwind rush of guts and glory where Kansas peels away and the reality of the dreamworld rushes up violently beneath my feet — and i find it is good, it is better than good. it is all i ever dreamed it would be.

i can always click my little heels and pray for home, and no doubt i will on my sadder nights where loneliness curls up beside me in my bed and doubt convinces me that i am just a tiny window in a sea of granite and anonymity. i am not so naive as to think my city life will be all glamour and posing, carefree sequin-studded nights. but for me, this is a necessary next step; a literal dream come true; proof that God answers prayer in ways that let an idealistic small-town girl finish out her 20s in a fashion of which she’d always dreamed.

hello, manhattan. hope you remember my name.

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