I am the stone that marks the grave of Johnie Armstrong, slain despite promises to rise again. I am the wish closed, the rose that folds in death’s rendering. I am the open palm, the understanding one man asked me to hold. I am closed after unveiling the gift he refused.
I am the ready shovel, the willing labor, the mover of impossible mountains. I gust tornados. I cry floods. I unwrap silver linings in slivers of time so thin they barely ripple in wind. I am purple-black bruised. Burnt orange-brown. I am sometimes tired-with-a-T.
My lining is sheer. I stretch past what is asked to intuit what others yearn. I talk too loud, too long, too often. I am the one to whom Herbert said, “It was nice listening to you.” I am the one to whom Hank said, “Any man you loved would be a lucky man.”
I am debbie the difficult. I am too much desire and not enough satisfaction. I preach possibilities. I dance could-bes and why-nots. I wear a tattoo as a slit on my wrist— and so—to negate Vonnegut’s declarative it is. I am fickle: thoughts flicker like fireflies. I am the brown bat that flaps along the picture window capturing bugs drawn by indoor light. I am many opinions and not enough facts.
I am trillium: delicate-flowered, woody-stemmed. Easily broken, tenderly rooted, I live tri-parted. I am water, and wear others thin. I am transience in a steady state. I twirl my mind to let go of preconceptions disguised as truth. I think if I thought less (a conundrum at best) I would be pleased to live what I live. I am an imposter in thin skin.
I yell in all caps and write in white font, then lose myself without a mark to know where I am. I dream of petals unfurled into Armstrong’s wings. I am stuck, arms flailing in too-deep water, met with glances rather than alarm, as if to say, “How interesting you chose to swim over your head again. How strong and silly you are…”
I am gold filigree in the apple blossom’s center, heavy with pollen, ripe for the bees. I am heady undulations, and waves tripping treetops, branches pricking holes so the light gets in. I swell with irritation, but have lost too much to rage, so I poke and I prod and I bore into white collars of buttoned-up rules. I weary of explaining why assumptions are helpful. I am human, and I hate it: fallible, vulnerable, sanguine, alone.
I am the sometimes-black pennant bolded white with DESPAIR. I am the top deck of the cruise ship unworried about waste. I’m the blind eye where water buffalos are slaughtered. I am the forgetting of stars that hours ago lamp-lit bleeding Syrians. I am denial refusing loss.I am the way children play war (plastic soldiers dying blood-free deaths, resurrecting to re-challenge foes): innocent, creative, filled with faith in heroic acts. I am determined.
I am the dissolution of marriage Alzheimer’s promises to bring. I am my daughter’s depression treated with the right medication, and my son’s brain cyst drained and removed. I am counterbalance to the promises of the United States government that fails to tell my son the consequences of interrogating prisoners on this nation’s behalf. I am the mother of a boy who carries the sex offender label. I am the hurt of children I could not help.
I am a decent rendition of humility and creation. I am ridiculous and delightful. I am shy at the center of groups. I am deep friendships—short or long-lived. I am a smooth bend, the way a convertible corners, strange as the curl of letters on the slick glide of a page. I am a straight shot of Petron chilled over cubed ice and crushed lime, poured in a glass.
I am a mouth full of wasps and bees, trying to learn Mandarin Chinese. I am fierce protector. I am thorn in your side. I know when to stop, but I don’t always manage. I am the right choice every wrong time.
I am the edge of the abyss, the fluff girl for lost leaps, the one not-splayed across the table at Starbucks despite invitation. I am thirteen in pigtails, lost to the rapture of equine muscle. I am regret that a toddler was killed by her mother. I am October 20—the date of her death. I am all the promises I ever made, especially the ones I did not keep.
I am fuck as a holiday and a punctuation mark. I am masked. I am hidden. I am partly revealed. I am peonies blossoming slow motion, waiting in shade for he-who-chooses. I am life in this moment. I am ordinary. I am pedestrian. I am the muse I find in others, and the chagrin that it is not easily within.
I am relational beauty cohabitating with the trouble of integrity. I am love and loss irretrievably entwined. I am every hue of green except eco-activist, which admittedly misses a great spectrum of things. I am protector of bees, and ants, and biting insects. My mouth full of wasps sometimes stings.
I am bossy and indignant because I think I am right, especially and always when I am wrong. I am success with difficult children due to my weaknesses more than my strengths. I am stories my children tell about my failures. I am pancakes served on the unset table, homework torn up in a fit of frustration. I am gifts of lessons each child taught me. I am every shortcoming seen in others. I am grateful for forgiveness and trust.
I am loving too many which cost me too much. I am bad at compartmentalizing (but getting better, a feat that offers little solace or pride.) I am stories and meanings, a world and a wonder. I am the comma that says, “Pause.”