love is a dark shade of green

Image of Long Story Short Award - Fall 2020
Image of Poetry
love is a dark shade of green

for my mother.

gutting february

i’m still picking up the phone, even though the wires got blown out last winter. a gesture like a scaled hand, reaching for the bottom of a tarnished bucket and coming up rusty. i hope you know it’s cause i haven’t been able to get out of bed for long enough to replace the kitchen lightbulbs, or clean the kitchen of casualties. for long enough to reattach my own limbs. the passing days smear themselves into a sweaty ink stain on my walls, regardless. steady pace, racing fast, the kind you can drum along to. i put myself to bed and sing a mantra: march will bring sewing needles and a steadier heartbeat, and the call will go through, and the wires will work to reinvent themselves while i do the same. march will bleed me into something bigger than myself. the calendar embodies either trust or lack thereof: empty promises thrown into a hollow belly. tear out the pages, one by one, and declare it a nuclear year. we bring ourselves into being by demanding nothing less.

the bitter lament

i went on a walk in the woods last night
on the brink of sundown
and i had a conversation
with her.
“how did this happen?”
the wind whistled and crooned,
and the birch broke it’s back leaning down to whisper in my ear:
“sweet child. i know no more than you. dear darling, it simply did.”
and i buried my face in the moss and wept
as the rain lapped up my tears
the alder took me into her arms
and the branches swayed above me
the creek sang an elegy
and i didn’t have the answers i was looking for
but for a moment, a brief moment, it was enough.

half life

are you still living
when wrists fit into the necks of wine bottles
drunk empties
and touch is not so much
warm as it is cruel
room temperature?
small talk
thick air
cat but no litter box
cousin gone wild
out the back window.
it’s brutal isn’t it. surviving.

the burden of having loved

my grandfather places his face in his hands
beard in the palm of his gentle fists
tears welcome themselves
“what am i supposed to learn from it?”
he whispers to himself
a thousand sleepless nights couldn’t answer the question
as he comforts me- “i don’t blame myself. i don’t blame your grandmother. and i do not blame god.”
a hand in the heart of my back,
a gravelly breath brings up aged dirt from lungs.
“but i fear i’ll die, too, without knowing why this all happened. what i’m supposed to take away from it. it’s unlivable, really. but we keep on living.”

the currency of connection

there’s a price in giving,
i’m starting to see.
to offer yourself is to welcome rejection,
to give is to admit:
there may be nothing i can do,
there may be nothing within me that helps,
this could quite possibly be beyond my meagre reaches.
but we offer regardless, we put soft words in hands and offer them in earnest.
perhaps in search of some acknowledgement or internal comfort.
perhaps to say:
i am here. i know i am not quite what you’re looking for, but i’ll help you look for that too.


i took the pocketknife from the kitchen drawer
and drove it from the tip of my forehead to the soles of my feet.
creating a perfect lifeline from which
new things burst forward, hot and wet, the tearing that precedes birth.
the newborn are never beautiful
but screaming and feral. glistening raw.

she, the something else entirely.

she lives in the crumbling home down the street
between fourth and adeline
where the crows go to flock when the weather gets cold.
she places those frail sitbones
in the wicker rocking chair
between her garden and the beaten sidewalk.
and when the calendar turns and the sun starts going down early,
she knits little sweaters for the cats and the dogs
and the children that gather under her brittle veranda.
she is known, on occasion,
to play the loveliest jig you’ve ever heard on an old oak flute
that they say the fairies themselves carved for her.
a foolish man might walk past her, at sunset,
and be spooked by those fast-moving fingers, in all their glory, knitting away.
for sometimes, she speaks to herself- in english, or ukrainian, or a language that only she
and a foolish man, one more foolish than me, might quicken his pace, racing the sunset to get
further from her.
but such a man, such a foolish man,
would be missing out on the magic she weaves,
and the gossamer words she combines with raw wool,
and in everything she does and the untouchability of it all.
i invited her into my home, one december,
and we exchanged old tales and adventures we’d once had.
her eyes twinkled like stars as she laughed, and her small frame seemed to fill the room with
a contagious divinity.
when she eventually turned the knob on the night,
and insisted it was time to go home,
i watched her go.
you know, she lives only three blocks away from me,
between forth and adeline,
but as i watched her walk away, brown coat flapping in the wind,
crows arching overhead against that unfeeling night’s sky,
i noticed that she had left no footprints in the snow, and the kettle we’d so recently used had gone cold.

storm season

earth’s many aspects
fall in and out of love with each other.
i watch as early morning’s blinding light
sneaks off to bed with sunset,
and seemingly stony moonlight
writes sonnets for the sand.
each tumultuous romance
wreaks earthquakes upon her skin,
as sea spits betrayal in a tidalwave,
crashing upon soil’s weak apology.
love grows the oaks to heaven and brings monsoons from hell.
beautiful, vicious, calculated chaos,
the elements can never bring themselves to calm,
until the sun eclipses earth,
and night brings hushed movements and stoppered breath-
yet in the morning,
it starts all over again.

the earth will sing as it crumbles

leave the fire burning,
in the cave up north, that elder mountain
leave it smouldering until
time descends into itself
whispering apologies -
“i never meant for it to all go this way.”
leave the flames licking stone surface
wiping away stories once scrawled
to replace them with the telling of now-
the tale of rising and burning and uncoming
let those embers smoke
until god bends his back down-
arching toes, slouched neck
“if i could do something, i would.”
feed the fire fresh marrow and wicker
for one day, i will make my way back
and even if the mouth of the ocean overtakes land
and the ark is pushed beneath whitecaps
you can find me in the cave, up north,
elder mountain.
kindling a new hearth
and writing the story of how we were
on the burnt granite wall
the graying eyes of the apocalypse will blink, slowly-
scanning the surface of the cave,
understanding, fully, what we once were
and they will shed saltwater tears onto the wreckage,
singing hymns to mourn a tomorrow undone.

the reunion

i am walking to someone elses home
through a familiar dirt path
and the trees don’t recognize me
as they whisper amongst themselves
“what foreigner comes through?”
it breaks my heart in two
the growing.
put my hands on the bark -
and let them all know.
“it is i.”
shaking pine,
needles dropping-
“it is! it is! it is!”