NOT I DO, BUT I AM

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This is me last night. I babysat my brother’s pit bull, Enzo (with whom I’m wildly in love), which meant I had my brother’s whole mountain cabin all to myself. I said I was going to take advantage of the quiet and catch up on sleep, but instead, I stayed up all night reading a client’s gorgeous book, after which I wrote a tipsy poem. (Tipsy being a euphamism for, “Why are there two pit bulls sitting beside me? I know my brother only has one.”) Here it is, the newest addition to the poetry collection I’m working on, called So Speak the Stars. Shocker, it’s a love poem.

I am a weird writer. I do the business end of it. I’m so happy that people are responding to my work, especially my novels. But I don’t really worry too much about my poetry being marketable. I write it mostly as a way to bleed the love from my veins. If I don’t, I’ll explode, and I’ll get glittery guts everywhere. And what would Enzo think if his caretaker exploded? I can tell you right now he would be most put out. (Who would give him jerky snacks?)

NOT I DO, BUT I AM

You set the desert sand on fire.
Choirs sing in your hair.
I took a spaceship through time,
and there you were, pulsing,
the beginning of my everything.
I rode a submarine to the center of my bones,
and there you were, swimming
in my marrow.

When I write you,
I feel the missing words,
the ones humans haven’t invented yet
shimmering in the spaces between sounds.

The best poem I ever penned about you was silent.
It prismed the sky around it
making tiny rainbows in raindrops.

They ask me why.
Why this?
Why that?
Why won’t you come here?
Why did you go?
The answer is always you.
The answer is always because
they are not you.

When mountain night is rocked
and rattled by ancient wind,
I sleep in your invisible arms.
I feel you spinning in my platelets.

The answer is always, I love you.
The question is always, Where are you?
(I need to be there.)
The answer is because
I could never be in love with them.
I am made of in-love with you.

My love is atomic.
It’s TNT times ten billion.
It explodes my skin
and seeps into the air around me,
making me radioactive.
They ask me, Why are you on fire?
I say, Because there is a him,
and he makes an inferno of my dreams.

Smoke rises from my hair
a burnt offering.

It’s not that I choose you.
It’s that if there was no you
there would be no me.
It’s not that I marry you.
It’s that I am marriage to you.

It’s that you sing
in my soul
deep in the echoes
of the mini-big-bang
that volcanoed me into being.

Before that eruption
there was you.
The stories got it wrong.
I wasn’t a rib.
I was a bump sleeping on the tip of your tongue
until you spoke and made me live,
saying, If I made a queen
how would she be?
And when you said, She would be like this,
I jumped from your mouth
grew a thousand miles
and cannonballed into the river
that flowed from your ribcage.

There and then you baptized me.

Tonight there is no moon
only flurries of snow
mothing in cold porchlight
growing wings
whipping windows white.
My body tangles,
limbs twisted to form
the first letter of your name.

Tonight
your heartbeat thrums
in the sizzling cymbals
of my kneecaps.

My soul’s first-last-and-only husband,
my very quarks sing your praise.

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(This is me cuddling with Enzo. Isn’t he gorgeous?)

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