What is mine

It’s a mine field
Of yours and mine
An incendiary device
Of language
An improvised explosive
That renders me



A human walking among
Grass blades and whispers
Where time is not measured
By seconds’ relentless beat or
Google Calendar’s bleating
But by the light’s falling on
Water as it ripples away
By the morning glory’s offering
By the warmth of your skin
On the creases of my hand

When we were innocent

My grandmother shredded boiled beef
— Knife silver with a truncated blade
Rust at the fracture site
Straight cut replacing the curve
Handle a heavy funhouse mirror —
For my grandfather in his bed
Paralyzed, mute, eyes piercing, whiskers sharp
Smells of lye soap and resignation
Coarse in the living room

People pour into our communal flat
Whispers, vodka, stuffed eggs,
Salami with pickle wedges
My mother’s late-night battle
After work and before suspicion
Towers over me with no eye contact
A brush of fingers a silent “no more”
(Walks in park, fishing)
At seven I know the rules
Such things are not spoken
In those days we were
To remain innocent

Poetry has to wait

She didn’t know how to speak poetry. Her words were concrete like buildings, heavy, poorly proportioned. She wasn’t at home in this language.

The architecture of her life didn’t allow for more beauty, though she craved it. She often felt like she was locked in a dark room without any air circulation, that she could suffocate there, choke on the syllables as they passed her throat.

No matter how much she kicked the door or shook the handle, they were as unyielding as her thoughts, dense as cement.

When she tried to scream, only a chime came out, tempered, timed, controlled. She could hear the faint sounds in her head, but couldn’t figure out how to vocalize them — they got stuck on the assembly line of her family, education, life, in short, a life she built deliberately and with purpose.

She wanted to take a wrecking ball to it all, but she couldn’t recall where she had put it. For now, poetry would have to wait.