Monday, November 21, 2011


Conspire is a word that means to breathe together

Once upon a time
we pretended we were children
pretending to be princesses

We wore
sparkling scarves in our hair
dresses with flowery patterns that blew in the wind
high heels too big for our feet
and gracefully we faltered
like fawns first learning how to walk

Our hands laced into a fist that formed a heart
It couldn't beat naturally we had to squeeze its pulse alive
We trusted each other then
more than we trusted our selves

At the top of our street there was a school
and in its playground was a geodesic dome

I love this place
I told you because every beam supports every other beam
and it's beautiful to look at you said
and it's even better to sit under

you feel almost safe
like you're inside
and you feel almost free
like you're outside

I asked you what heaven is and you said
All day today all day long
I lay on the hardwood floor of the apartment listening to Neil Young records
pretending I was lying in the long grass

I watched the gold of the grass growing taller around you
hiding you
I mean

the sun
by virtue of millions of journeys round the earth
(or vice versa)
has spun threads of gold
all round it

Our voices
wove round us a chrysalis

(a word coming from the Greek khryos, meaning “gold”
and a second element
meaning something like “sheath”)

Sometimes you begin to believe
growing up means being stolen from

we’d had so
taken from us
and we were so lost from all that had been taken from us
we taught each other it was a far better thing
to offer up what you had first

that way it couldn't be stolen

we were good at pretending we didn't care

say hi to everyone
because everyone is your friend

I mean we both believed we were good at
pretending we didn't care

When we slept
I would inhale your exhale

(vice versa)

In the late afternoon we'd emerge
like moths
from the cocoon of each other's embrace
and climb out the window onto the fire escape
whispering the dusk into us as we watched the red sun
set through wrought iron

At twilight
the fireflies come out
and you can follow their blinking glow down to the river
where they fly up into the darkening sky
and turn into stars
and if you build a fire on the sandy shore of the river
the embers fly up too

The dark would be deep
and we'd turn on all the lights

Crouching down on the floor
we drew pictures of owls
and doorways
and dying lions
and other beautiful things that made us sad
on the brown paper bags that we got with our beer

Still wearing our bathing suits and high heels
we'd blast our favorite songs and sing along as we drew
taking breaks to stand up and dance around
We'd turn out the lights

One time we knocked over the box of art supplies
and instead of picking up the mess we crafted a sign
very carefully each letter exploding
which we hung above the chaos
of spilled crayons and broken pencils

and left there for weeks

Our eyes
always wet
We felt very real

We took turns not sleeping
while the other stood guard

you lived under the table with a long cloth hanging over its sides
hiding you
I mean

we both pretended you were hidden

We'd had so much taken from us
but we took back trust

On the other side of the cloth
I drew tiny maps of imaginary places
I tore into even smaller pieces and connected with bits of string
Somehow in the daylight
they transformed into piles of loose scraps
in the daylight when we let go

but at night we took everything very seriously

With the sun's gray ascent
we'd feel soft and small again
and crawl quietly back into bed

A man gave you eight brightly painted wooden balls
and told you to balance them into a pyramid
without using glue or nails:
the challenge was they had to keep each other stable.
For days
you knelt with such concentration
as you tried to hold them in place
your hands
so small
never steady
attempting to keep them all together

Fists clenched your knuckles white
when each time
they would roll away
across the floor when you let go:
each one in a different direction
at least one
always managing to knock down a tower of empty cans

It's been a long time now we've been apart.
We no longer have each other to save and be saved.

Once we grew like ivy
twisted perfectly into each other
spreading across brick walls
and crumbling them

You don't remember almost four years later
I bring you home
lay you down in bed
your eyes barely able to stay open
your head leaning up against the dresser
you cradle a dying rat in your arms.

You stroke its dingy white fur until your eyes close completely
murmuring all she needs
is to be held
and she won't have to die

I watch,
delicately pick her up out of your arms
and place her back into her cage,
making sure to avoid that word
making sure to call it her “home”

You ask Is she really going to die soon?
and I have to say “Yes”
and stare at your closed face,
feeling further away from you
then when I was halfway across the country

I really don't want to be crying these days
so I close my eyes too
and lay down next to you
pulling you back into our cocoon

Tomorrow you'll ask
if I'm mad at you
and I'll tell you no I am frustrated you don't remember.
What I really want
is for you to be mad at me,
for still wanting to
and believing I could
rescue you
because I owe you
but not all
of mine

there being no such thing as rescue


One afternoon we spent the day downtown, wandering from hotel to hotel. We rode up and down ornate elevators, watching reflections of reflections of ourselves framed in gold. We were infinity contained in a small mirrored box, rising and falling. Rows of pearly buttons winked numbers at us, ringing bells.

We ran through empty corridors of closed doors holding hands, our footsteps muffled by thick red carpeting, our laughter
echoing in the hallways’ endlessness. Outside some doors were carts with silver platters on starched linen cloth, and we feasted on cold chicken and chocolate cake. The perfection of that day was in the fact we didn’t have a key: for if we’d had one it would have only opened one of those doors.



Keep your eyes open for omens heaven is not a closed box

There was a burning sensation in my left hand as I got ready to go to the party
I looked it up in the Encyclopedia of Superstitions but there wasn't an entry for burning sensations
and nothing happened that night I went home early

There are shadows on this ceiling.
I want to stare at the shadows on the other ceiling.

In this heat the only one I can talk to is my dead friend
and my child self if I lie very still
myself as a child