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

fell in love with a girl

I didn’t know I was in love with her at the time, I had no idea what love was I was too busy being full of grief and hate and sorrow and having a chip on my shoulder the size of the Great Basin. I’d just transferred schools from the slums to the rich side of town where no one knew or liked me and I was smarter than everyone but they refused to put me in all Honors classes– you wouldn’t believe how much this offended me. Or maybe you would. If you know me personally you definitely know how much this offended me.

Her name was E–

She had red hair that was four feet long and the end of her braid was thicker than my wrist. She sang mezzo-soprano in choir but preferred alto because it was harder. Spoke French fluently and casually whenever she could and was learning Chinese, wrote with fountain pen, and was taking 6 AP classes. She carried those textbooks everywhere and I wanted to carry them for her. She painted one of the murals outside of the choir room herself, a reproduction of Picasso’s woman descending steps or something like that.

She wore square-framed blue glasses and was one of the only students at McQ (the school) who was kind to me and did not think I was weird or gay (a bad thing there) for complimenting her all the time. And I did tell her all the time I thought she was beautiful and cool and smart and sang so beautifully and skillfully. She had soft, delicate hands with perfect fingernails. Her penmanship was perfect.

I didn’t know if I wanted to marry her or be her– I was 14 and couldn’t fathom a world where I could marry another girl so I settled for trying to be her.

Which is why now I’m a redhead who sings soprano with big blue glasses, fountain pens, and a lust for knowledge that is unparalleled. Granted a few of these traits I already had but E– influenced me during that short semester I knew her. I don’t even think she knew who I was.

She cut off all of her hair when she graduated high school. Now she’s an MD– I don’t know her specialization. I hope she still sings though. I can’t possibly begin to describe the timbre of her voice to you.

rlb 2.28.17

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