Little Bird

I love the way

Your eyes wrinkle

With delight

When you are looking at me.

I love how calm

It always seems you are

When we meet in silence.

Is it that easy,

When we strip away

All the expectations?

I love all the ways

You make me laugh

How you tell stories

That sometimes make

little sense,

And I never care to know why.

Sometimes, even,

I admire your open hesitation

To give into

What you know

Your heart desires.

What courage must it take

To resist what you want,

In return

for safety.

Pay no mind,

Little bird,

I’ll be here

When you feel sure enough

To approach my embrace,

To be your friend,

To mind after your heart.

If only to see

You break into a smile

One last time.

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Goodbyes

I’m watching you,

Here in my arms

Your breath, faint,

On my skin.

Your skin,

Thin and tender,

Cooler still,

Despite attempts

To keep you warm.

You look at me,

Between this world and the next,

Your soul

Lingering in the air

Above the home

That is now your body,

It fights to stay

But knows

It must leave.

My gentle friend,

I’ll keep you close

Warm you still

Until the breath

That becomes your last.

Moments

We used to drink

Out of little red cups,

Eating warm cookies,

Our feet not quite

Touching the floor.

Your spontaneous laugh,

Infectious,

Echoed through the house

Warm from Grandma’s oven.

You found me once,

Sitting in a grassy corner

Of the yard where we’d play

And you reminded me

We’re family.

We’d summer in Oregon,

Lie on our backs

After days on the lake,

Looking at the stars.

Telling stories,

Sharing secrets,

Acknowledging the demons

Trapped inside us both.

Getting stronger as we aged,

We hoped for more.

After I nearly

Let the darkness consume me,

When no one else

Stood by my side,

You’d pick me up,

Linking my arm with yours,

Force me to laugh, to scream

To dance, to bowl

And you reminded me,

We’re friends.

We spent winter nights

Spinning records,

Watching movies

You taught me to drive,

To dirt bike in the desert,

To laugh, to live with abandon.

In the moment,

For the moments.

At my sister’s funeral,

I fell apart

You never left my side,

Holding my hand,

Whispering memories

Of better times,

Sneaking me coffee,

Imagining

Times to come,

And you reminded me,

You’re always there.

We laughed,

We played,

We cried,

We danced.

Every childhood memory,

Every Christmas party,

Every family photo,

Every Oregon summer

Brought us closer.

When the darkness came,

When the war waged,

When the family fell away,

You reached out your hand.

Why didn’t you ask for mine

When night came for you?

Now all we have

Are memories,

Moments,

Imprinted in pixels

Reflections of the past.

And in your children,

Your blood,

A hope for the future

You once helped me see.

Always family,

Always friends,

You live on in me

If only,

In the moments.

Like Wales

You have the kindest eyes.

And a gentle, tender smile.

Sometimes I dream

Of memories

That haven’t happened yet.

You’re gentle.

You’re more gentle than I’m used to.

But I want your tenderness

For the rest of my life.

I used to want to be handled,

And then I met you.

You’re the perfect weather

For a cozy sweater

A flask of coffee

A leisurely walk

With brisk wind,

Embracing our cheeks.

Your hands, cold,

like my body,

Perfect temperatures

For our embrace.

You hold me

Without expectation

Without ulterior motive

With care,

With ease,

With simplicity.

I want your arms around me

Forever.

I love you like a fog

I love you like a fire

Crackling in the hearth

Of my heart.

Your heart is warm

Like old Scotch in my belly.

You make me giddy

Smile with glee.

I could drink

Your kind smile,

The same beautiful taste

Hitting my lips

Day in, day out,

Swirling in your orbit

For the rest of time.

Revisions

I used to think

that I wanted lust

Chemical connection

Until I saw

The sweet purity

Of a smile,

Of love through understanding.

Of the space between the moments

Of touch,

Of play,

Of lips, tongues, foreheads

Quietly connecting.

I used to confuse

Lust for love.

Then I loved you.

The tenderness

Of a hug,

Of your smile, admiring a gift

I’d remembered to give,

Of a video

I’d remembered to record.

Then I loved the exhale

You’d breathe

When you’d pull me tighter.

The melting into my hand,

Your head giving way

under my fingertips.

The stories you tell

When I need distraction from tears.

The moments of happiness we share.

I could watch that smile

Creep across your face,

Those eyes soften,

Those shoulders relax,

Every day for the rest of my life

And just be happy.

I thought I wanted you

When you lusted after me.

Now I need you

To hold my hand,

Simply

Loving you,

In the quiet moments,

Of tenderness.

The God of Now (Continued)

I’ve been in other armies before.

Very few prepared me for the choice my captain,

my commander,

was going to make.

At times, my leader was stolen like a thief in the night,

while others still,

the harakiri was too much to share.

And yet,

loyal to the end,

I join another army.

I swear my allegiance to the next one,

hoping, this time,

I can have a place at my commander’s hearth.

At least for a time.

The trouble in that life,

the life of a warrior,

is that it’s lonely.

At times, it’s quiet–

wandering through a world

with no one by whom to kneel.

Alone with thoughts, hopes, dreams, desires.

And then someone worthy comes along.

A cause.

A friend.

A family.

A lover.

On my knees I fall,

preparing my oath.

This is where I feel most fulfilled.

When will I take my last oath?

We prepare, in life, to be productive:

physically, emotionally, mentally.

To get the promotion.

To run the race.

To make the spectacle.

Then, while we’re trudging along,

something stops us.

I remember that day.

I had just had a birthday.

I had just started a new project.

I had just hired new staff.

I had just started an affair.

We slept in hotel rooms around town

Had dates at the best restaurants,

Had plans to holiday.

He was leaving his wife.

I was promoted at work.

I had just placed in a century,

and was planning a tour.

Then, something felt “off”.

At first, it was an itch.

A dryness that didn’t improve,

with lotion,

hydro-cortisone,

or even steroids.

Then, I was incontinent.

I felt a warm stream run down

my beautiful nylons

while presenting to executives.

I attempted to ignore it, at first,

but it recurred.

I stopped drinking coffee,

then alcohol,

and still,

recurrence.

It’s as though my body just forgot.

I scheduled a lunch break appointment

to take a look at my chronic “eczema”

(self-diagnosed, of course!)

or, at worst,

to test for infection.

That must be it!

I have too much to do!

I’m feeling fine.

I’m too healthy.

I’m too young.

I thought I had time.

But it was a tumor.

A flat, chapped, solid tumor,

full of cancer.

What was visible was the tip of the iceberg.

3 weeks later,

I received a phone call

while pretending

that the tumor

had potential

to be nothing.

The truth is,

I avoided my next appointment,

and promptly paid the $20 no-show fee.

If I didn’t show up,

I couldn’t have cancer!

Not again.

Never again.

But the call came,

and I answered.

Recurrence.

My body betraying me

once again.

And, the worst of it was,

I was going to have to swear an oath of loyalty-

To Myself.

It was against my very nature.

I remember my first thought

written down after that call.

“Yesterday, I was healthy.

Yesterday, I was a cancer survivor.”

For over a year,

those were the only words

written on that page.

There was nothing else to say.

I had thought that you’d know,

Know when you had cancer.

I thought I would feel it.

“Wait. But yesterday,

I WAS FINE.”

In fact,

I was better than fine.

And things like this are,

unfortunately,

not just another speed bump.

I saw her for her birthday.

We went to her favorite cafe

and we celebrated both our birthdays.

Her 65th, my 32nd.

I’m less than half who she is.

I was 5 minutes late, as always.

We couldn’t extend our date,

Work called.

I was distracted,

not fully present for her.

She was terrified of her upcoming scan.

I didn’t listen.

I thought she’d be fine.

I thought we were fine.

My blather was useless,

and my ears had shut off.

She was trying to tell me.

She was trying to ask me for help.

She wanted to connect.

And I rejected her.

And now,

with her news of “unplugging,”

I am scrambling to make up lost time.

To suck up all her essence

before it’s gone.

Falling at her feet.

Pledging my oath.

Loving her deeply,

Drinking her in.

My emotions vacillate.

I am angry.

At this,

with myself,

with Death.

I am terrified to lose

what I know it can be.

Not just because I’ve lost so many,

but because it’s her,

Specifically.

She has been a joy.

A light in my life,

a soul sister.

She has given me the room to grow,

to play like a child,

To love with abandon,

regardless of time.

Of outcome.

To love her.

I’m guilty for not being there

for someone so giving.

Bandwidth issues.

Capacity issues.

For not understanding.

For not being understanding.

Enough.

At all.

In small moments,

I’m terrified

about our camaraderie.

The connection we share.

I can relate to her,

to this.

This is the time when I can give back-

body, mind, and spirit.

Connect, give, love,

accept acceptance,

shine light.

Taking the time we have.

Committing to the process

and not quite the outcome.

The end takes us all.

All we can say is

“Not Today.”