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There’s a Leak in This Old Building

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The last thing my mother said to me before sunset

Was to be still: she drank tea in the presence of hymnals, & so

Made peace possible. If she could create it, I

Will also, someday become a parade of ash beneath the glory of incense smoke.

I will someday be so honored to have peace. Then,


That night, I walked through the pale half-dark caused by the moonlight

Of the bayou, from the wide open honest stretch of green water, proud lilies

Up stream & in those seconds, alone

I stopped waiting for an answer that only demanded more questions

Stopped sinking long enough to understand that my world is made of quicksand

Right now.


Made of sharp bleeding edges, arsenic, and of

Winter’s breath lifting frozen sickness

up and through the anatomy of the unsuspecting and the weak

no cities of light. No fruits and sounds. Once,


When we helped my sister give birth in the bath, I thought

What a show of agony. I wondered,

How much pain a body could endure before it ran out of noises to express it

before nothing else mattered but the pain and production of it.


Out of respect for the birthing process

I did not ask any questions


Out of respect for the peaceful and peace-living

My mother

I have to say


This isn’t the whole story

The truth is in the unmade bed,

The shattered dishes, the swamp of laundry curtaining my house

My mother is a maker of all things peaceful, but

I breathe out tombstones and apocalyptic conditions


It’s in bad taste to judge one’s own tendencies in this way. Tell me,

How would you put it?


The hymnal goes: there’s a leak in this old building & the soul

Has got to move

Move like a repositioning embryo beneath a rib

Napping on a sciatic nerve of consciousness

I’m not like my sister, I can’t deal with that.



I went to an airport just to smell travel

And day dream the possibility of being far


And in my pretend travel bag:

My mother’s incense sticks, patchouli, rosemary for my hair, and my sister’s Seabands

I held it close to me until I fell asleep next to a woman who’d missed her flight

But was too upset to go back home

Her cries were not as  sharp as birth

But enough to relate to.

To sink beneath


Descending, I looked down into the light lacquering fields

dreaming of red and purple blossomed vines, and

massive groups of people and more people and more people

all wet and tearful but smiling

because the water was clean, the air was breathable and their children were fed

then a flash of light

then nothing

then awake


because there is death

because there are voices I may never hear again

there are things I want to remember

about self-inflicted grief and what it does to us


We forget:

The warmth of a mother’s essential oil infuser, her whisper “breathe child”

Forget the miracle of first breath

And the promise that there are no promises

For tomorrow, for love, for perfect, for happy…even health


There is only mandatory



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