You – Part 3
this poem was written at 2:30am after I woke up from a bad dream about this particular “You”. In the dream, they were naming constellations with another woman. So funny the way something so simple like naming constellations could set me off so much that I jolted awake and wrote this piece! Perhaps I’m too sentimental. Anyway, it’s barely edited and I would like to keep it that way. There was something so raw about how I felt when I wrote this that I want to maintain.
She will know you by your name.
By the bounce in your walk, by the touch of your hand.
This woman, the new one, she will know your voice
She will know you by the scent on your neck
She will know you by the brand of coffee in your pantry
She will know your stomach against her back and your hair in her fingers and your voice behind her ear.
But she will not know you, me.
She will not not know you by the way your body curled up beside mine on a 30 degree morning
She will not know you, voice cracking in the backseat of my car, your eyes looking up at me for once, your hand on my chest and your jeans unbuttoned
She will not know you bated breath, your hands on my waist, the hours slipping away from us as it thunders, and the promise of our future eager beneath our skin
She will not know you whispering my name, your eyes closing, something like a cry in your throat, something like a crack in our love.
She will not know you standing across the bed from me, tunnel vision, telling me all the ways you come apart around me, and the ways I fall apart around you
She may know me by name.
She may know me by photo.
I know that you will tell her.
But she will not know that in knowing you, she shall know me in every way that matters
In knowing you, she shall know my heartbeat, my breath
She shall know what makes me fall apart.
She shall know the crack in chest
The bruise on my brain
The joy laced between my teeth
This woman. The new one. I believe I will like her.
She shall be just like me, after all.
The Phenomenon of Softness
The heart is a soft organ. Not in literal texture but in general makeup. Sometimes when I talk to the right person I can feel the soft spots flexing under the weight of my emotion. Everyone I’ve ever loved has flexed my heart. Pushed and pressed on the muscle in one way or another.
In most cultures, softness is a negative trait. Softness can be filed under Weakness, Pity, Easy Prey. I’m not so easily convinced of these connotations. When I think about the parts of me that can be considered “soft” I think of my tears spilling onto my cheeks. My voice wobbling. A stone at the base of my stomach. My limbs shaking. A hurricane of my entire body. My soul bending and stretching in a moment. These soft pieces have never felt particularly soft. They feel jagged and pointed. Sharp and rusty. My soft pieces are violent.
I believe that I’m a soft person. This isn’t to say that I’m not tough or brave, but that is to say that I am human. I’m made of flesh and fear. My body quakes under my own feelings.
At times the human condition seems unbearable. This softness that we inherit from birth can be immobilizing. In our softest moments, we find ourselves wishing we could be harder. That strength was something separate from softness and that we could wield it like a weapon to scare off our ugliest feelings, but we can’t. Strength and softness are the same thing. Our tears build up our resilience. That stone in our bellies hardens our core.
When I feel that warmth creeping up my spine, the break in my chest right before I cry, I take a fraction of a moment to appreciate it. The fact that I can come apart just as simply as I can come together. There is beauty in softness. Beauty in coming apart.
They will call you polite
They will think you’re simple
They will believe that you’re sweet
They will say you’re nice
But you have never been sweet.
You have the bite of a crocodile and the venom of a viper and the talons of a raptor.
You have chubby cheeks and bright eyes and smooth skin
And stuffed between your teeth are lies or truths or screams or belly laughs.
Your eyelashes reach up and kiss your eyebrows and he leans down and kisses your forehead.
They may say that your laugh is a little loud.
What they mean is that it’s too loud.
They mean that you’re too loud.
They may say that your laugh is too loud but what they really mean is that your joy is disruptive to them.
They find your joy disruptive because they find you disruptive.
They find you disruptive because when you open your mouth you are not what they expect which is to say that you exceed their expectations.
You are loud.
You chew with your mouth open.
You call people out, you talk back, you smack your gum, you sing along, you dare to be ugly and hard and disagreeable.
Your hair is filthy and you have acne and cellulite and you haven’t slept in 3 days.
And he will still kiss your forehead because he cannot help but fall in love with how perfect you are
You are outrageous!
You have always been outrageous. You are an extraordinary woman.
You are a human.
You are made of blood and skin and sweat and fear, but you have never feared your own soul. Your own voice. Your own light. You are extraordinary.
You have never been sweet.
You have always been more glass bottle than man
Hard and cold on the outside but something good on the inside
But don’t you know that the outside matters?
Don’t you know it’s the only part I can hold?
Not the life we had together
But the one we could have had.
The one we saw in between coffee at the breakfast table and the museum trip we took once.
That life that was glimmering and shiny and seemed too perfect to be true.
The life that you and I both wanted so desperately.
The life we deserved.
The life that maybe if we had reached out a little further
Pressed the tips of our fingers into that shining, shimmering, fantastic light,
Maybe we could have grabbed it.
Maybe there’s still time
Maybe there’s not.
I mourn the life that I wanted with you.
I mourn the person that I could have been and the person that you could have been.
you could have been great.
I think that if I were to blow this candle out now, the last thing that you laid your hands on in this place,
That I would extinguish the both of us.
But I must put out the flame.
Or it could burn this house down.
The Woman From the Other Side
I miss the one I was before I knew. One time I stepped into the smelly bathroom because it was the only one vacant and as I turned on the light a large black spider ran from the door frame to under the toilet. And I knew. It knew it was in there with me, under the toilet, waiting. But there was no other bathroom and I really had to go, bladder ready to burst. In that moment, I wished I hadn’t seen that spider. I wish when I walked into the bathroom I had kept my gaze up, instead of down, and had never seen it. That way, when I used the bathroom I would have sinply uses the bathroom. But instead I was a twitching, jumpy mess in there, waiting for the spider that I knew was sharing breathing space with me, to come and bite my flesh. Of course it would have been the same if I hadn’t known. The spider still would be there, but my anxiety wouldn’t.
It is the same with him. I miss the one I was before I knew. Before. Before I knew how he slept and how he snored loud. Before I knew that he always cut his fingernails down to the nubs and before I knew that he smelled like cheap shampoo. Before I knew that he only liked to hold hands for about 5 minutes before he claimed his hands were going numb. I long for the one I was before I knew how his skin sizzled against mine. I miss the one I was before I had been seen by him. Before I was seen by him I had never been seen by anyone. Not even myself.
If I could, I would go back now. Not forever, but for just a moment. And I would look at myself. Really look at myself. I would examine every remarkable piece of me. Where my thighs meet my hips. Where my ears meet my head. Where my knees bend and my stomach dips and the birthmark on my shoulder blade. And I would bow to her. My creator. The me who existed first. The woman from before. I deserve to know her.
Carpinteria, California, USA
Four weeks ago I went to visit R in Carpinteria, the little beachside town he lives in that’s tacked on the edge of Southern California.
I had never been to California before this trip but I’ve seen movies about it. And isn’t it interesting that even though I’ve seen movies about it and heard about the beach and the movie stars and the palm trees I thought that was all talk? California had become something of a crystallized shimmering dream to me instead of a real place. But, wow. It’s definitely real.
The whole town seems to sit on two main roads right off the highway. One road leading to the beach, and the other leading to worldly desires such as a library, a church, a grocery store, and of course the only establishment that makes a town a “town” instead of “the middle of nowhere”: Starbucks.
The first night that I arrived, R and I ate at a little restaurant outside where I proceeded to get tipsy off one hard kombucha and then we stuffed ourselves with biscoff ice cream cones as we walked back to his house. The whole time I could smell the salt of the sea. I could taste the ocean hanging in the air.
When we finally got to the beach a few days later, I was so happy. There’s just something endlessly special about standing in the ocean feeling the waves lap at your feet and pull at your heels. I felt so human in that moment. Human and mortal in the presence of the almighty. The ocean herself. Neither human nor mortal. “Beautiful” is simply the greatest understatement of all time when describing the ocean but it’ll do for now.
R and I got to explore the Santa Barbara area, Ventura, and a huge pier with a little aquarium built right on the end of it! We also ate our weight in ice cream, slathered on our weight in sunscreen, and cried about the state of housing in the United States. Or more accurately, I cried and R patted my back.
I can honestly say I get it. Why you all love California so much. I see why there are movies about it and songs and hotels named after it. I suppose next the next place to visit is New York, who I believe rivals California in number of Americans in their fan club.
If you could choose
I would be a piece of white paper. Your blank spot.
That way you could draw all over me. Fill me in with every single thing you think I should be filled with. And when you’re done,
You could close the cap and walk away.
Would still be filled up. Waiting for a flood to clear the markings.
There’s a vast white emptiness right in the center of my stomach.
Then your hand hovers over it, I almost think the spot is filled.
It is not.
My love for “Bien Pretty”
I believe love is always eternal. Even if eternity is only five minutes.
-Sandra Cisneros “Bien Pretty”
This week, I wanted to talk about literature. Some of my favorite literature to be exact. Since graduating college, I’ve really missed having in-depth conversations about a good piece of literature and absolutely freaking out about how much a passage means to me. Of course working at a bookstore I get to dip my toe into a good book conversation with my coworkers from time to time but we’re always interrupted by customers half way through (no shade to customers though! I’ll chat their ears off too when given the chance). But since this is a blog focused on my writing I thought it would be fun to highlight some of my biggest writing inspirations.
Sandra Cisneros is one of my favorite authors. The way she describes the experiences of women, especially women of color, is magical. Better than magical! She perfectly puts into words all of these little thoughts and aches that I’ve never even known could be described out loud. When I read something she’s written it’s like I’m reading about myself. In my own writing, I hope to channel her even a little bit.
Her short story, “Bien Pretty”, is one of my favorite stories to read. I read it when I’m sad, when I’m yearning, when I’m feeling hopelessly poetic and wrapped up in my own mind. It’s about a young woman who falls in love with a man and as her affection for him grows she turns away from loving herself. She realizes that her love for him is what made him special in the first place. She essentially created the man she loved from scratch. What is more feminine than making your lover into what you’ve always wanted? Creating them from the very beginning. Forming your lover into a story.
My writing often attempts to make my lovers into stories or poems or recipes or lessons or chapters. It’s therapeutic in a way. Literature is much easier to understand than a whole person. I believe that Sandra Cisneros would get that. I’d love to meet her one day. I bet she would have phenomenal things to say about loving and being loved.
Sick and Hungry
I’ve been sick for the past week. Yes, the mighty Sinus Infection struck me down. After the events of the past 2 years, I was just happy to say that I didn’t have Covid, despite the fact that I still felt unspeakably shitty. And I don’t get sick very often so my immune system was working overtime. I mean, I was exhausted!
But while I was sick I lost my sense of taste and smell. I’m regaining it slowly now as my congestion is passing, but that loss of taste and smell was by far the worst part of this whole thing.
I bit into a slice of pizza and it might has well have been a chunk of soggy cardboard. A fluffy round of garlic bread was nothing more than a beautiful decoration on my plate. Nothing breaks your heart more than garlic bread sitting tasteless and unappetizing on a plate. Or perhaps only foodies can lament this way about garlic bread…
Thankfully, food blogs were my saving grace. Everytime I saw someone cutting into blueberry cheesecake or opening a Nutella filled cronut or tearing into their foccacia bread or basting their honey chicken tenders (I watch hours worth of instagram reels of this stuff lol), I felt that I could taste it! Even with my senses being completely out of wack, I could taste every single spice, every drop of fresh squeezed juice, felt that texture of perfectly cooked chicken breaking apart in my mouth.
Shoutout to my favorite food blog, Moribyan.com, for constantly making me crave things I’ve never actually tasted but taste in my dreams over and over again. I swear I can smell her kitchen if I sniff hard enough!
As summer is on its tailend, I’m starting to get excited for autumn! With Autumn comes the hearty spirit of making baked goods and I plan to make as many as possible this year. Hopefully I can master a new baked treat every Friday starting in September. I attempted to do this last year but the Ghost of Autumn got my soul and I lost all steam midway through October (the Ghost of Autumn is simply another name for seasonal depression, as “Ghost of Autumn” sounds a lot more like a mysterious, endearing, storybook character rather than an intangible general feeling of the cold and dark weather making me cry on a random Tuesday).
Colder seasons approach, as does the mug of hot cider to my lips! I plan on consuming as much pumpkin things and cinnamon things and apple things and walnut things as possible. And yes, I’m a pumpkin spice girl. Life is too short not to be.