Liberated Lines Week 1

by Cassie

(Liberated Lines is an Instagram based writing course I am doing for the month of June. It focuses on “quick and dirty” poetry and prose, coupled with photography, and it has a mantra of “we don’t edit.” It’s been a wonderful experience so far!)

I open up and unfurl under the watchful eye of a sky clouded over with the kind of hot and heavy summer rain you can smell on your skin hours later. I bloom like dandelion dragging itself up through the cracks in the pavement of our driveway, stubborn, insistent in my right to exist, and her feet are filthy, chipped polish showing pink through the wet grass and dirt that cling to her tiny toes, and he yells across the yard at me, lacking self-conscious censorship for another blessed day, and the soil and her skin and his freckled nose and the birdsong and soft rain are the gifts of my undoing.

Just over fifty steps from my front door, the barbed wire that once caught on my shorts as I scaled it sagging close to the ground now, ripped open and pressed down by the passage of time and animals and big heavy boots. I love living with this little bit of wilderness all wild around me, two sides of tangled up trees and vines, and there are abandoned nests in the high up spaces, and empty turtle shells by the bracken summer water, and one winter, I found the skeleton of a doe, and it was holy holding it in my hands. Coyotes sometimes gather in the inner chapel of its green cathedral and sing alleluias’ to the moon, and I’ve prayed to myself with bare skin pressed up against cypress bark and blood surging through trembling thighs. There are broken branches, and broken bodies, and broken fences here; and I bring to it all my broken memories, because we’re at our most beautiful in our vulnerability, and I am most wholly myself with all these barriers buried underfoot.

I break the earth open under my hand and hold a heavy palm full that smells like sun-soaked soil. The thrust of the spade and the eventual give, soft sigh, the desire of the dirt, how it longs to lie under my nails. Seeds and roots and all the wet heat of mulch, and the scent of deep dark things that grow as I sleep It opens to me, under me, and I meet it there, wide open and slick with sweat, broken things in full bloom.

That summer we made love, starting on the stairs. The storm set up around us, the way he moved like lightning striking at the softest part of me, how I burned from the bottom up, a fury of fire caught up in the tendrils of hair held in his fist. And in that pulse of flesh, deliberate and hard, thunder rolled along the lining of my throat, and I gave that hurricane my own name, let the wind blow out on the force of my breath, tropical and hot. And there’s always that moment of utter surrender, when you’re weightless and formless and floating outside of the bones that are anchors, and it’s an empty space to expand into, until you take up every inch of it with your nails pressed into your palms and your mouth full of galaxies, and that’s a gift, that opening up and falling out of your skin, and I think of it every time it storms.

If tonight I let you crack open my chest, you’d find the space between my spine and my sternum crowded, maximum capacity, all these straining spirits desperate for attention; a whisper of wind might catch their upraised open palms and pull them from their secret spots behind every organ, exposing them to the air of the living, an evaporation of emotion. And while I lay there empty, I’d let you fill me up with the way you tell ghost stories, how they settle on my skin like an early morning spider web, how they sink down to the bottom of my bones and sit there like they own the place, and there’s space, too, for the grasshopper that was dying in the corner of the kitchen; I caught him up on a square of paper and went outside in the soft sunlit rain, and I put him down in the grass because I wanted his last breath to taste green, and maybe that’s how I taste to you, an expanse of meadow set against the sky, a curl of chlorophyll underneath your tongue.