for jenna

Down feathers– Not simply because of geese but because of the way the down feathers fall, flutter, and dance and the way you are so light on your feet without trying. I remember dancing with you one evening– I think you tried to teach me to swing or perhaps you were showing me your latest routine– whichever it was I could only think how lucky I was to see it. The arch of your foot, curved calves, magnificent thighs and the way those legs carried you without effort across the floor even though I knew how many hours, months, years, blood, sweat, tears of training went into every breath of movement–

Hailstones– You already know this one but you don’t know they remind me of your laugh. Hailstones on glass, bright and delicate in the middle of a storm, a startling and beautiful break from the gale that reminds us that there is far more out there than just thunder and fear. There is more to the symphony than the bass and the drums there is also the lone piccolo singing, flying above the rest of the din to carry the fugue and maybe it’s something of a fugue state that carries the audience somewhere else, somewhere new entirely to be someone new and isn’t that something? A new state of personhood just like that–

Dustmotes– You remind me, in quiet times, of dustmotes in sunbeams that would fall through the screen door of my grandmother’s house onto the dark-stained hardwood panel that marked off the entryway. That sacred space where we could give kisses and shrug off our days before giving way to rich, thick blue carpet, braced for family. The sun was such a dark gold I thought I could reach out and touch it; the dust would be velvet. You are those moments of stillness where we catch ourselves breathing and existing and it feels like someone has suddenly spotted us with our hand in the cookie jar but we’re grown ups so we know we’ve not done anything wrong at all it’s just old habit to pause and look over our shoulder, sheepishly smiling as if we are chagrined–

Spring grass– Specifically, the memory of lying on blankets in it when it has grown tall, tall, tall enough that lying on your belly makes it feel a bit like a forest if you pull your hat down low and listen to the wind and pretend. It helps if your best friend is lying nearby, not talking but breathing, too, quiet and present, like you are both creeping along on some adventure and trying not to be heard. It’s an illusion of course, a friendly one. All you have to do is roll over and it’s diminished in a wave of cool blanket on your back, hot sun on your belly, and the scent of grass on the wind– it’s itchy embrace kept safely away by the blankets. But your best friend is still there with her rockstar sunglasses, avoiding studying just as hard as you are, and all’s right with the world because it is spring and the sun is warm and the grass is tall.

rlb 1.25.17

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late to work

this morning i watched a finch as it worked, a grey-yellow blur fleeting, flitting between the legs of the local miniature library– and i thought how must it be to be a finch? the whole of its being consumed with selecting the perfect strands of detritus for its far-flung nest?

Establishing Boundaries

Boundaries are weird. Cosmically weird. I’ve always had a problem with boundaries.

See, I walk around with my ribcage cracked open and my lungs on display for anyone who cares to watch me breathe; you’d think I would unlearn surprise at their love of this softness but my lungs are not my heart and I recoil from anyone who tries to reach out and touch. What if they take hold and squeeeze and get lung tissue under their nails? They can’t be trusted.

My sternum, unattached, sits a floating, ineffective guard against whatever may come my way while I navigate this strange grapple between crippling fear of intimacy and desperate starvation for the softness of the skin webbing between fingers and the soft spot beneath the ear and countless other places where it would be so nice to touch and be touched.

rlb 6.6.17

On Independence

Where does freedom begin?

With the absence of fear. Where, despite the void or because of it there is a river of potential heretofore unnavigable, unknown. The water rushes and sings grey-green off the mountain dragging down moss, old bones, bees, poison hemlock. You never learned how to swim but the best part about being free? No one will push you into the water. Come and sit on this boulder in the dappled sun and let your toes get a feel for the snowmelt water rushing past and let the cosmic radiation burn the rot of stagnation right off your back. It’ll hurt a little but you’ll be better for it. Sit a while and talk. Stretch and take up all the space you never could before. Take up all the space you need.

rlb 5.21.17

Historical Perspective

Ink bruises in high enough concentration turning the backs of pages brown and green. Bruises unhealed become sores when the skin sloughs off and, undrained, left wet and unclean, they rot. This is why I refuse to leave the desert content to live on the river with her shifting shores. Rivers are supposed to have banks not shores but here– landlocked and lake-fed heading west for the lowlands where she will attempt to fill the unfillable– there is a memory of the sea. We were beneath it once. Primordial salt floating beasts the likes of which only whales and immortal jellyfish remember. Whales and jellyfish and the desert.

rlb 5.17.17

Levee

The river is two feet above her banks roaring with heavy white water ever eastward from the mountains.

Yesterday, a man threw himself into her and a helicopter sharing my name spent the afternoon looking for him. She found no trace of him, no corpse, no clothes, nobody gasping for life.

The news reported that he fell.

I can hear her over my headphones, rushing grey, eddies tumbling over each other taller than I stand. She’s overfull and if she’s like this any longer the trees that have grown alongside her since I was an infant will rot away from the roots, going the way of the wild grasses, and be swept toward the mountains in the east until they, too, cause more flooding. There will be still more water for men to drown themselves. No reservoir can relieve her.

The Catholic church across the bridge with its stained glass and polished bronze doors counts out the hour with a bell as old as its presence in the city but try as it might she is still louder; that must count for something.

rlb 5.6.17

community health projects

Between the stitches of pavement something resembling a city grows up around us, timeless and with time less to take stock of us. No moloch yet but you snapped another pen for the sake of feeling something and got ink all over your fingers, the cheap kind of Bic black that looks like pigeon feathers, iridescent greyvioletgreen bleeding your cuticles and spiderwebbed palms. Good luck reading the future in that mess. The city doesn’t have time for those jagged plastic bones, all twenty-seven of them exquisitely formed. There’s municipal planning to take care of– music in the parks, bus routes. Priorities.

rlb 4.2.17

debutante, reprise

ii.

There are days, rare days where my lungs are enough and these are the days I live for.

The eyebright days. Sunwise curlwild mindsharp toothsome days. Days when I write too much too fast to get ink on my hands —

— but somehow rake ink stains through my hair between every sentence anyway.

When I could kiss the Sun until she shook or anyone as long as they don’t put a stop to the words that couldn’t stop if I wanted them to. Days where it doesn’t matter whether the Sun shows her face because I am shining,

burning bright enough for all of us regardless of whether I’m happy

I am Hubris and that is enough

I am enough.

rlb 4.5.17