Dear Broken-Hearted Self

holy-mary-1dove-may

I.

It’s darkest just before the morning, and I know they say
the cracks are how the light gets in, and that
God doesn’t give you any more than you can handle
and every living thing needs rain to grow, yes, I know.

But what about when morning doesn’t come, or
when the cracks turn into craters, and what about
when what you can handle would fit in a thimble
with room to spare, even, what then?

Too much rain can kill the roots, I read that, how
the soil suffocates them and did you know that
you can’t grow with no breath left to lift you up
out of the ground? You can’t grow with no breath.

II.

I never knew how bones could hold on to every tear,
the weight of grief just building up inside them, never
knew how they could suck loss up like a sponge, calcify it,
crucify it, until your body becomes a boulder, this

entirely unmovable thing, too heavy to roll, withered
heart hardened at the center. The breath long gone.
They could carve statues out of me before I could mourn
enough to even lift one leg, to bend even one finger.

I simply sit still in this river made of tears and stare
into an unrecognizable future. Where would I go anyway?
There’s no escaping a broken spirit when the pieces of it
snake up your spine, when your cells attack hope like cancer.

III.

When Artex drowned in the Swamps of Sadness, I was
six years old and I couldn’t stop crying. What a metaphor
for all my years, even then, already, and if you want to know
the truth, it’s that I haven’t stopped crying since then, not really.

Sometimes I think about slipping under that mud,
the cool kill of it in my ears and my nose, how the dark
of it would feel in the back of my throat, pressed against
my eyelids, but life always pulls me up by the reigns again.

The sunlight’s strong once you clear the cypress trees, it’s
hard to ignore air doesn’t taste like despair and decay. I guess
you can even remember that there’s goodness here,
on good days, beyond the bones of the horse who couldn’t make it.

IV.

The unexpected orphans, we do unexpected things.
I knock on wood so much that I keep splinters buried deep down
in my knuckles. I throw salt over my shoulder, a starving
rifle-toting soldier, at war with ghosts waving white flags of surrender.

I walk under ladders to dodge the other dropping shoe, its
perpetual fall, but black cats are a comfort, like the shadow of a
storm cloud overhead. I cross my toes and hold my breath
as my fingers do the walking over graves, over bridges.

I told my mom once, superstition is really nothing more than
saying a prayer with symbolism. Please don’t let life hurt me.
Please don’t let me be alone. Please don’t let the piano fall on me
from up above. Please Mother Mary pray for us sinners.

V.

But some days are better than others. Even in the rain,
I can hear the crows and the cardinals. The Christmas tree
in the corner, lit up with my life story told in ornamental narrative,
I keep candles going around the clock like a rosary set on fire.

I go to sleep surrounded by the sounds of the house I
grew up in, the breath of the people who love me best, the
warm weight of life in my womb, one pound one ounce, in between
a coconut and grapefruit, a new forever measured out in fruit.

I heard a song this morning that made me cry, a hard cry, but with
the good kind of tears that feel like a baptism, a healing, an ocean
anointment. I yelled at the cats and the baby kicked me hard, once,
twice. And this is how life goes. This is how life goes on.

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