I’m Sorry

There’s a man, a friend, I decided long ago that I wouldn’t like because the way his dark, unkempt hair fell haphazardly above the rim of his glasses, decided that if I let him, he could almost be the person that I have feared in my sleep. Not as much anymore because I’m an adult now and can relocate my terror into separate little boxes of emotion as one learns to do with years of careful living and a really sweet therapist. Come to find out, this man, this friend, has learned a way to unhate himself, too, found a way to happiness by surrendering to the permanence of his trauma, found a way to forgive was and embrace is. He’s put light on his shame, named it. Said it aloud and opened himself to all the judgment and pity that comes with humiliation. Of victimization. And now I am here, regretting the times I didn’t want to inhale near him, for fear of smelling his cologne, recognizing the stench of secrets that might have been his; the times I wouldn’t see him as a whole, just as eyes I didn’t make contact with, the way his hands with one small gold band moved when he explained an act, a moment—for fear of watching his mouth, the smallness of his lips the stippled dark beard, the his way lies might fall so easily.

Pampas Grass Remembers

the humid red 
of a thousand sunrises
the sharp blue cold 
of a thousand midnights

bending to autumn clouds
her sisters’ green sway
at its whim

hands, splayed open 
against mossy plumes
feathery seeds forfeited 
to the wind

crept across brackish waters
smelling faintly of envy 

such envy, the waiting
in her bones, the milky white 
need to lift up, lift up

in another life, love:
the hard line of a salty current
arcs in circles, 
in circles, in circles

with an April afternoon
squabbles soon forgiven

cashmere breath 
inhaling rogue feathers
dust to dust

each sun-bleached remnant
of pebble and shell
perpetual living:

the quiet of days
with nothing but the sea
to answer

a bend midrib 
though broken
not enough to surrender

When the Time Comes 

Lean in
close; feel his chest
rise and fall in its labored meter,
close enough to tell him
           good boy, it’s okay, I’m right here

Bury your face
just above his collar
but low, behind his ear
in that soft hollow spot:
breathe in, long and slow
         it’s okay, it’s okay

remember this scent:
pull it in deep: nose, mouth, lungs
like waxy popcorn, tepid soil
warm and oddly reassuring;

be here, this and now:
keep your eyes closed
because the real kisses happen
with your eyes closed
       it’s okay

press your closed lips against 
him harder than you should
so that he feels your words
even if he can’t hear them.

Clay Angel On Moving Day

I adored her in her unwholeness
even as winter cracked her open: 
lost wing, chipped nose, mossy palms
the sentinel of a garden I sometimes ignored
her broken wing hollowing the core 
of her empty vessel.
Inside the dark curve of her belly 
a safe nesting for the bees that would 
emerge in the afternoon heat,
atone to the insistent-yellow dandelions 
that claimed the long August yard.
I left her behind with no foreseeable purpose
giving her back one wing at a time.

Odonata, Infraorder Anisoptera

Last week I killed 
a dragonfly 
that’d made its way 
into the kitchen;

perched itself flat and thin 
in the cabinet nook 
where I found
a spider the month prior—

its foil-black body and cellophane 
crisp of wings sporadically stilled 
as I nudged life
with the tip of my shoe.
I’ve inadvertently 
pushed the universe ajar, 
loosened its balance, 
of peaceful existence;

so I’ve begun my penance of saving 
the thready spiders that finger-tip 
their way along the edge 
of the counter to the bananas,

envelope-under-a-water-glass them 
to the hemlock just beyond the kitchen door 
with a whispered apology, 
righting some unintentional wrong.

Soy and Ginger Salmon with Brown Rice 

Last night, 
as we moved about between the counters 
finding the give and take of the space
he shifted left 
instead of moving right as I’d expected 
which made my hands
filled with ruby radishes still wet 
from the faucet’s cold water, drip,
and I knew right then why marriages sometimes fail.

But this morning, 
before I even climbed the stairs 
to the sun-flooded kitchen,
he’d poured strong hot coffee 
into my favored blue mug 
with an alchemist’s knowledge 
of the perfect dip of light cream 
and I knew right then why marriages sometimes work.

About the author:

Lorraine Henrie Lins serves as the Director of New and Emerging Poets with Tekpoet and is a founding member of the “No River Twice” poetry performance troupe. She is the author of five books of poetry, including the forthcoming Without the Water.  Lins’ work appears in a wide variety of familiar publications and collections, as well as a small graffiti poster in New Zealand.  For more information, please visit:  www.LorraineHenrieLins.com

Image by muza_meduza from Pixabay