a forgiveness [hour 18]

it’s a cliche that everyone has a crazy uncle
and maybe it’s true; it was for us.
my crazy uncle was the uncle we knew best
and who we adored more than all the others.
he held sleepovers for me and my siblings
in the apartment (whose rent my parents paid)
and watched walker: texas ranger too late into the night
and agreed that yes chuck norris was hot

some things have changed.

there are–
i will not call them unforgivable. i shall not call them sins; they weren’t.
there were fuck-ups that hurt my family but not me.
the apartment he abandoned without warning
(our family he abandoned without warning)
the time he tried to kill himself, which–
for whom is that forgiveness owed; to whom is that an offense?

mine is a small complaint but it is one that
i have not laid to rest.

(i was not there when his body was laid to rest either.
i visited his grave the year after
with my sister and my mother and her sisters;
my father and uncles an uneasy half-circle around us.)

perhaps this poem is the time.

: it’s okay that you promised you would dance with me at my bat-mitzvah
and didn’t.
it was a precious promise
and i think–i think if you had known it was so precious–
i think if i had known how precious it was, and reminded you–
you would have danced with me.

but both of us circulated through the party
like smiles and plates of appetizers
in the swirling crowd of middle school friends
and the two sides of our out-of-town family who had never come together to meet,
with my mother and father happily, insistently, politically out of wedlock

it’s okay that you promised me a dance
and that i thought i would feel like a princess
(more because of the spotlight of your attention
than the way you would have made me whirl across the floor).

it’s okay, younger-me, that you did not ask,
it’s okay, younger-me, that you nursed your hurt and pride
instead of your bravery.

it’s okay, the uncle i had who maybe is like everyone’s crazy uncle:
the kind who do their best and take what pills they can and
live their lives with those they love until it hurts too much;
it’s okay that you danced with so many people but not me.

our out-of-town family came for the bat mitzvah.
you were already there.
your leaving hurt worse than theirs did
(and yes: many times in many ways).

if i could make my hurt into a precious thing
i would make it a snow globe.
i would shake it until the two figures dancing
were surrounded by glitter (which we spent so long cleaning up)
and twirling slowly in a prescribed circle (the dance didn’t have to be good)

i can take the promise and keep that;
i can take the memory i wish i had, and hold it;
i can say: he wanted to dance with me at my bat mitzvah,
he loved me; he thought i was special, too.

my sister’s memories [hour 17]

In the excavation of a closet
packed with my siblings’ left-behind belongings
I found a floppy disk
carefully labeled in my sister’s middle school hand
(bubble letters were all the rage)
which read:

PRIVATE: do not read!!!

Perhaps if I was the kind of sister who pried
(and had a computer with a working floppy drive
or the mischievous motivation to acquire one)
I’d excavate that too
and see what the sister who loved pink and flowers and bubble letters
held precious and private.

It was a time of obsolete technology that we can’t easily access now;
it was a time of opposite adolescences spent in baffled unfamiliar separation.


just deserves [hour 16]

i didn’t say it back.
i think that i thought that i felt it
& if i said it i’d mean it
but i wanted to give her more than words;

she deserved that.
so i wrapped my words in fear and hesitance.
and made a newly-inked to-do list
of proof i wanted to proffer:

an introduction to my parents
& an accepted invitation to meet hers;
space for herself in my room, not just my bed;
the book she’d given me to read, returned, broken-spined and well-read.

i was slow-moving.
she was moving away.
i didn’t say it back & haven’t said it since.

if i said it to her now
i would mean it.
i don’t know if she still does.
that is not the important part.

to find out if she wants any words from me at all
i would have to speak to her.
i do not know if that should be on the list
of things she deserves from me.

yes. it is a sickness to leave no holes in walls. [hour 15]

it is a sickness to leave no holes in walls.

a note:
leaving holes in the shape of fists
is a related separate sickness;
perhaps they will be cross-referenced in the next DSM.

when you yell
and it breaks nothing or not enough
or you worry
your fist will hit something more human than drywall
those holes too say:
Here Is a Person Who Does Not Know How To Touch The World

i have only always lived in:
a perpetual state of financial insecurity;
perpetual fear of losing my security deposit;
not many square feet to start with and
an ever-narrowing window of time before the lease runs out.

i fear and wonder that
i may never live
in a home
i own. by which i mean:



me in a nutshell: “help! i’m trapped in this enormous nutshell!”

I’m an aunt, a dog mom, an anarchist following in my mother’s footsteps, and a writer.

I live in St. Louis. Our summers boast the kind of humidity that’s good for fostering irises and spider ferns and discussions about the merits of dry heat versus wet heat (those discussions have a disturbing lack of innuendo-awareness; perhaps that, too, is a regional failing).

2020 is my first Poetry Marathon. I usually write poetry for purely personal reasons–generally just working through my own thoughts. For work, I have a long-term memoir project, but primarily write about hockey (the Washington Capitals!) for the sports site Russian Machine Never Breaks. I’m also a freelance editor (specializing in academia and short fiction, with additional experience in indexing, and perhaps too obvious a hankering for additional clients…).

I have a dog. He’s much cuter than I am. (He’s also a grumpy old man, but I’m much grumpier than he is.) I’m fairly active on Twitter if you’d like to get to know more about me there.

Otherwise: I hope I finish out the rest of this half-marathon, and shall now stop procrastinating and get to writing!