Inside of me, there are glaciers.
They were still for thousands of moments,
but it’s springtime in my soul and
now they are shifting ever-so-slowly–
but ever-so-much is all I have ever needed.
Soon enough, they’ll melt into oceans,
and ships will sail on my insides,
charting courses to foreign lands,
and historians will write textbooks
about the great icy land I once was.
But for now, that future is as fleeting
as mid-winter sun. For now,
my glaciers are shifting ever-so-slightly,
and that’s enough.
last week, she asks me in the car,
“but how do you know for sure?”
it’s evening, but the sun isn’t going down.
instead it’s turning the mountains
golden-brown, baking them.
and i concentrate on driving,
like i’m barely 16 and
this is the only test i can ever imagine failing.
sometimes i feel immovable,
like my faith is an ocean filling my fingers.
when i raise my arms, the tide goes out
and i can see what’s under the water for miles,
every hidden secret, every grain of sand, every lost toy.
sometimes i feel like every breath
is a gust of wind, hurricane-strong,
that will crash the trees of my elbows
into the roofs of my sides.
on those days, it feels to precarious
to make sudden movements, so i wait until
the storm is over.
“it’s not about knowing,” i say eventually.
it’s about believing that holding still
when your mind is at war with your heart
will make it better. it’s about studying every
lost memento that surfaces on shore when you
can see it clearly so you can remember it
it’s about knowing that the sun will move eventually.
it’s nearly 11 p.m., and the mountains are still golden brown,
and she nods.
i took the train 11 times that week.
each day i got a little better at
asking for a one-way ticket.
by now, i know my way around your corner
well enough to blend in with the
businessmen in suits heading to work.
i figured there’d be room for me
anywhere. my shoes have been worn out
by a million different sidewalks.
but home is a place covered in my
own fingerprints, and this city is yours.
on the last morning i took the last train out.
the rose water was always kept
on a shelf that breathed sacred secrets.
“this is for Special Occasions,”
mama always said, and you could hear
the emphasis in her voice.
she would sprinkle raindrops of rose
on the not-quite-white-anymore tablecloth,
and add it to the tea, when no one
in the living room was looking.
and later aunts would exclaim over
the smell and the taste, and there
would be knowing looks passed around.
when i grew old enough that i
could see everything in the cupboard,
i met a boy who gave me a
bouquet of roses with all the
cavalier audacity of a dandelion.
i hid the roses in the laundry basket.
they died within two days, and we broke
up on the first day of spring.
everything melted within a month.
the ocean has always smelled like
gritty dreams, to me. i came back from
the mudflats once, covered in salt
and stories, and ran a bath to wash away
the adventure. after i was clean, i
used rose water to color my story
with the elegance of women who can
ride bicycles gracefully in skirts.
but afterward, i put it back on the
sacred shelf, to quietly dream on and on.
This time, I’m going as far East
as they’ll let me with indistinguishable olive eyes,
until I blend in so well that my
mother could not pick me out of the
noon-day market crowd, but I’ll
be the one knocking on watermelons.
I won’t have an address to write to
for a while, but I’ll leave the number
of a payphone I hope to show up near in
After this, I’m never coming back.
The leaving always feels un-permanent,
soaked with all the insincerity,
of your winter-chapped-lipped-claims that
the sun is coming.
It’s always coming,
but it’s never warm enough.
I’ll close my eyes
on the way out of town, so I
won’t figure out the way back.
This time, I’m going as far East as I can,
and I’m never coming back.
it took the rest of the summer,
before i stopped wearing
pants in the heat–
before cigarette smoke
made me cough
instead of smile.
my hair is almost
grown out past where
it used to be,
before i tripped,
but never quite fell–
over the boy who’d
walked more miles than me.
timing is everything
when it comes to love,
and too much time has passed now.
there used to be lines
on my skin,
visible marks of
belonging somewhere else.
like everything else,
they faded in their time.
when she was 13, she drove across the continent.
the beginning of growing up and chasing the horizon,
when she spins her skirt twirls in a perfect circle.
bare arms and with bells tied to the ribbons
in her braids, it is hard not to dance to her music.
in the winter, she knit 8 scarves,
all of which she lost by june.
5 of them were various shades of red,
and the other 3 were pastel shades, she thinks,
but colors that pale are hard to remember.