Proof

I don't know what love is but
I do know how to climb a tree. 
I've watched my slow footing, 
I've placed my hands around a knot. 
I've rested on limbs and called them a house.

I don't know what love is but
I know what good lighting can do.
I know how it brings out all our best features.
My eyes brighter, your smile wider,
none of our shadows are harsh here.

I may not know what love is but
I've baked a loaf of bread. 
I've seen powder roll itself into life
as though my touch meant something to it. 
I've seen proof.
I've seen it rise when the sun looked at it.

I don't know what love is but
I've flown in an airplane
and I've rode an escalator
and I weave sometimes.
I've voted in a primary.
I've looked through a window. 
I've spilled things just trying to reach out.

I don't know what love is but people say hello to me when I walk through my neighborhood.

And I never check the weather and that mostly works out.

Sometimes I feel more beautiful simply because someone says so.

Maybe love is when the tide is going out and you find something you lost. 
Maybe love is the safety bar on the Ferris wheel.
Maybe it's sensible shoes when you travel.
Maybe it's every time the person next to you woke up, told you their dream and
you listened.

Isn't it all worth celebrating, worth promising, worth committing to? 
Today, tomorrow, the next.

My favorite day of the week is you.

It's 9 pm and I'm calling to ask how your day was. 
It's July and I'm blueberry stains on your fingers. 
It's cloudy hillside and I am shapes, I am drift, I am do you see what I see
It's forever and I am every single lick it takes to get to the center.

Let me drumroll. 
Let me hold you. 
Let me hope humble
and let me grow, too.

If you let me learn to love you
I hope you'll let me breakfast with you.

After we wake
and as the world awaits
may the day take me to the unknown again
and again and again

with you.

 

The Battle

I think my son and his cousins are battling with the ocean.

I suppose it because they have been throwing rocks at it for an hour.

The oldest on a boulder, soon to be swallowed by the tide.

They run into the sea like a clumsy game of dodgeball.

They are losing.

The waves crashing into them, around them, everyone out at once.

Still, they retreat and throw themselves into it, retreat, throw themselves into it again.

Shrieking, laughing.

 

I want to write them into an odd victory.

Isn't that the point?

Imagining ourselves as champions,

crafting meaning out of senseless attacks?

 

I can't do it, of course.

Partly because I am preoccupied with redefining the war

and partly because today I'm unconvinced they will ever win

and partly because I am picking apart their tactics,

wondering if the weight of one of the rocks will break them

 

But mostly because they look so happy.

Three dots on the coast, full of significance,

all the pride of their parents incarnate.

 

Maybe it's not a battle at all.

Maybe they are just throwing rocks into water

the way you throw a ball for a dog

or you throw the game for a friend

or you throw your voice into a valley

or you throw your heart into a hurricane.

 

Sometimes fear makes a country out of me

and I worry nothing that leaves will return.

 

Surely we'd rather live like this:

Our family by our side.

A stumbling anthem,

gleeful perseverance,

small but limitless,

mighty and sincere.

 

Joyfully opening the borders along everything we touch.




Wishbone

Are you afraid of love? I know I am. I have an elaborate, elegant fantasy where I'm not, but let's real talk. Love is that thing where all your secrets and guts come out and you hope no one pukes. Where memory no longer hurts you, where their names are not spells, where you don't have to fear speaking them back into life. When you put a message in a bottle and hope someone reads it. When you set sail not knowing if you'll go anywhere. When you bake a cake from scratch and then you give it to someone. When you wake up alone. When you painstakingly teach your baby to put one foot in front of the other and then one day they're walking away. When the world is dark but you still say sweet dreams.

I just mention it because a lot of folks are talking about love right now. How we should have it, where to find it, how we need it, but they're leaning into it so easy that I'm like are we talking about the same love here? This love, right, you mean the one that I conceal and carry and everyone is afraid of? This love, the one where I pulled a body out of my body and every day it grows teeth? This love, my pet lion, a fierce royal dangerous love I keep locked up at home.

Are you prepared for this color of love, this taste of love, this kiss that feels like a switchblade. My arms, a precious metal. My tongue, a barbed wire fence.

Love is love is love but it is also terror.

I don't have to watch the video to know the way Ms. Reynolds pulled all her sh*t together in an actual hell and had the wits to videotape the murder scene of her fiancé; a policeman's gun still pointed at him, her baby in the back f*cking seat. Love is ruthless. It is a nightmare. It is a lifetime of self defense training.

Did you see Ms. McMilllan want to lose it at a press conference about becoming a widow and then compose herself when her son, a young man who, no doubt, wanted to be a 15 year old pillar beside her, crumbled into a thousand emotional pieces on live television? Love is diplomacy. It is resilience. It is responsibility.

Listen, I want to love you. I want to love you so bad. This world, the new world. I want to love it gentle, want to love it sailboat, want to love it in the light. But, tell me, who has had the delicate luxury of loving like this?

If my love is anything, it is probably a wishbone. And I keep breaking it apart,

hoping it comes true.


The Binoculars

Community. Whoever left my son the pair of old binoculars on our doorstep this morning, dressed up in a beautiful box with a bird on it, tied with a flower, unsigned but with a note to him about there being so much to see in the world: Thank you. He's wearing them today. He can barely handle the joy, the mystery. He held them up to his eyes and said you can see everything with them.

Not true, I thought, the magnification of a thing is not the whole thing. Zoom is relative, your eyes will betray you. A world inside a world is not necessarily a more beautiful world. The devil is in the details, he will cut you with his teeth.

But you're not supposed to give your children the dark, neurotic play by play of your terrified mothering, so I smiled and agreed.

"Everything?" I asked, full of wonder. "Amazing."

I want to see the everything world. Curious, endless, brimming with light. Take care of yourselves today. May a new view come into focus.

7.6.16 / re: Alton Sterling

I don't know why I watched the video of the gentleman being pinned down by two men who swore to protect him, his head against the pavement and a gun pointed at his face except maybe that America is always on his knees at my bedside begging, saying he didn't mean to do that

and I keep taking him back.

Rage is heavier than body fat. I know this because I've been running over 5 miles and haven't burnt any of it off.

Everyone out here with their GOT HOPE? bumper stickers and LUV in their license plates and I feel like the Incredible Hulk in a sports bra and leggings listening to slow jams and tryna keep it real.

All I'm saying is that when the video went dark you could still hear voices, you could still hear the pavement, you could still hear their guns explode. I'm wondering about this, about how a sound is different than a bullet, you can't dodge it or destroy it. I'm thinking, some sounds follow you like a ghost. I'm thinking, how many ghosts will hold or haunt Alton Sterling's wife tonight, tomorrow night, on the night their kids have to bury their father.

I'm running, I'm exploding, I'm haunted.

And then my friend walks out of his house. He hands me six sparklers; he knows I'm always looking for them. Silent fireworks. The kind of light that you can hold.

I'm running towards home now, because there is nowhere else to go. Down the mountain with my anger. Down the mountain with my love songs, with my ghosts. A flammable bouquet in the palm of my hand - the celebration of freedom that doesn't sound like gunshots.

7 Kinds of Sunsets

O N E

 

The flames of a fire cartwheel

half twist backflip back handspring

handstand forward roll

front tuck just

to hug you

 

This kind of sunset falls a lot

but it's worth it

 

T W O

 

The landscape is the best song on repeat

The loop that moves you

An orange chorus

unpeeled

Tart and sweet and woke

 

Every note is a sharp note

Every kiss is our first kiss

You are the zest that blesses the west

 

So fresh

even the night tastes like morning

 

Every morning

Every morning

 

T H R E E

 

Wash over me like a paintbrush

Fold into me like dough

Tuck me like a quilt

 

Sunset soft and slow

 

Drift asleep wake up roll over

arm in your arms

inhale the sea on your skin

 

Your body is a beach

I'll comb my whole life if you'll let me

 

F O U R

 

When the sky is half dark

instead of half light

 

And stars are puzzles you don't feel

like doing tonight

 

Suddenly we are running out of time

to love each other

 

Maybe tomorrow

 

becomes tomorrow

becomes tomorrow

 

F I V E

 

Goodbyes are not the same as horizons

even though they break everything apart.

 

Go home, sky, you're drunk.

 

No one wants to hear about

how all the best parts of you are fading

 

Lookin at me like

heaven flat

sloppy panoramic

 

spilling all over your face.

 

Our gazes fixed on scars

tryna wish on them

 

S I X

 

When you can't see well

and you accidentally want someone there

just so you don't run into things.

 

Or the air is so cold you

blame it on your own feelings

 

Your hands out like

maybe it was you who lost the daylight

 

At night

you dig through the mud

caked in memory

looking

 

S E V E N

 

Seated on the ground

My breath is the language of birds

The birds speak wind

The wind sings lighthouse

 

Nothing crashes into me here

 

My heart is a beacon

part warning

part guide

A Mom Like Me

SunWoo had a tantrum tonight after I vetoed a playdate request. The tantrum led into an argument, which led to him saying many nasty things, including "I wish I didn't have a mom like you."

I am human and stubborn and proud, so I gave him his wish and said he didn't have to have a mom like me tonight and he could take care of his own dinner.

For myself, I cut up some veggies and added it to a frozen pizza, assuming he'd just eat half of that and I'd just quietly allow it because even my rock hard mom heart wouldn't let him starve or whatever.

But instead he stomped around and then drew me a card with a picture of a a sad face and a giant tear drop coming out of the sad face, and the giant tear drop ALSO had a sad face.

"I don't want to read it," I said, peeking inside when he wasn't looking. "I need space."

Then I angry-ate my pizza as he proceeded to get his kid chef knife and a cutting board out and I watched him cut open an avocado, slice it up, and add it to some salami on sourdough bread. He looked at it, and then added a bit of smoked gouda.

"It's a sandwich!" he proudly exclaims, sitting at the table and smiling. I'm staring at him like he's a successful circus act and then I look down at my pizza - suddenly a cowardly, lazy thing.

I don't know why I'm telling you this except to say my dinner was terrible, and SunWoo's was less terrible, and maybe it's because he's an artist, or maybe it's because he's a frickin tiny hipster, or maybe because his resolve is just softer when it has to bend around a mother, because mothers are just mountains disguised as women, at least some days.

I cannot be moved! I wanted to say.

But here I am, eroding all over the place.

Love You More Than

Perhaps the best part of the day, and there were many precious ones to choose from, was when SunWoo and I made up a word game called I LOVE YOU MORE THAN in which we take turns making up terms or concepts that we love each other more than. Of course as a writer this was one of the best Mother's Day activities ever. I love him more than every caterpillar in the world lined up from end to end and he loves me more than every raindrop. I love him more than a belly full of sushi and he loves me more than the Pacific Ocean. I thought I was winning with loving him more than all the clouds stuffed into one amazing pillow, but when he told me he loved me more than every single single single single single rose, tulip, thorn, and horse carcass in the world, I admitted defeat.

FOR NOW. 😏

Anyway, Happy Mother's Day to all you moms out there, in your many forms and faces, and to all who mother, in your many beautiful, radical ways. Love you more than.

Mother's Day

I'm a single mom of a young kid so sometimes Mother's Day is more thorns than roses, more roundhouse than home, the kind of holiday that get picked last in gym class. But today SunWoo wakes up and the first thing he does is snuggle next to me and say "Happy Mother's Day!" I hug him, all stunned and drowsy, I say thank you, and I break it to him that Mother's Day is actually tomorrow. Now all day long he's been keeping a secret from me about some surprise he has for me in the morning.


And I'm like, how did he make a celebration out of us? Us, a kid raising a kid, us, burnt pancakes, us, scooter races. Homework fights us, too tired to read tonight us, elaborate valentines us, stay away from the edge us. Chore chart us, new chore chart us, snooze button us, endless shel Silverstein poems us. Bad homemade Halloween costume us, messy bedroom us, kiss it better us, sidewalk conversation us, skip bath night us, picnic in the living room us, fancy ramen us, stay home day us.


Sweet child. Curious child. Forgiving and graceful child. For how long have you been capturing our laughter in balloons? Who taught you how to holiday, how to turn a day into a gift? How did you learn to love me into surprise, surprise me into wonder, wonder me into joy, over and over and over again.

Bird

When your brown son tells you over dinner he thinks he's ugly.

 

When you stutter on your own memories.

When you reach for him, a table and a canyon away.

 

His hair in your hands, a thousand falling stars, each one a wish

that has already passed.

 

How can you describe grace to a seven year old being

raised in a broken funhouse?

Mirrors so curved your face becomes dusk.

Walls made of elbows.

Doors made of fists.

When you walk into an uppercut and say you're sorry.

 

Why believe me, a woman with quilted skin,

a mother with a leaking heart,

rising tides on my breath,

when I say you are so beautiful nothing can sink you.  

 

When I kiss you like a papercut.

Like a king of spades.

Like a bird born from my sleeve.

 

When I hold you like the greatest bomb I ever made.

Delicate and reckless and exquisite.

So handsome every morning you burst.

So fine our demons die just looking at you.

 

You, the color of a good luck penny,

You, the color of harvest,

You, the color of a plot twist,

the color of anthems,

 

You the color of flight.

 

Aint a ray of sun in the new world

that won't wanna shine

on your face.