when he shucks me

For 3 years, we have lived
3,000 miles apart.
 
Every day, California calls me
or I call him,
and the distance shucks off
like the green
that blankets an ear of corn. 

For a couple of years, 
I lived for that shucking, 
lived for the moments
when the miles fell away
and I was no longer
just an East coast girl. 

I was his girl, his princess, 
the lady of his heart.
 
More than that, I was bare 
as one of those ears of corn, 
exposed and vulnerable, 
ready to be eaten 
or devoured. 

Here I am, I felt like saying, 
when what I really said 
was a simple hello. 

Through words and letters, 
we wove our dreams together, 
pretending we wove our lives. 

Twice he flew out to see me, 
and for a few short days
my life was all puffy clouds
and daydreams 
only I wasn't dreaming. 

I'd pinch myself 
after he kissed me, 
leaving little crescents 
from my fingernails 
in the fleshy part of my arm. 

Now it has been two years
since we've made love, 
two years since anyone 
has kissed me
the way he kissed me, 
his hands cupping my face, 
his whole mouth drinking me in. 

I don't dare say 
we're growing apart, 
but when he shucks me now, 
the green no longer
all falls off. 

California, my California, 
you've never seemed
so far away.

halfway to the dairy farm

You are poetry--
your words distilled,
your personality fiery 
with a fierceness
that I both love
and fear. 

Elusive, I find you 
in the briefest moment
between sunset and full dark
when the sky's inky violet. 

Far off down 
my one lane country road,
a pair of headlights
comes careening. 

I step off to the side
step into the rows of corn
and hide until the lights
flash by me, 
standing in the high corn
until my eyes readjust
and I hear the car
backfire as it rides the bend. 

I'm halfway to the dairy farm
a mile down the road.
The sycamores are white as bone. 
Above and between them, 
bats slash the summer air 
with their chaotic flight,
diving and twirling 
dark shadows that dip 
too close about my head. 

It is summer and you, 
you are oil to my water, 
rising--always rising
above.

brightness

I'm splintering, 
fracturing.

The monster inside me 
is winning the war. 

The room tilts, 
everything is bright, 
a sterile white, 
the shadows only spots
that swim lazily
across my eyelids 
when I close my eyes. 

I close my eyes
too often now. 

The light is blinding, 
the absence of shapes
confuses me. 

The couch, the walls, 
the Christmas tree 
still up in July. 

All blend
into the brightness
that pulses.

This is not a drunken poem. 
I am not an alcoholic. 
I don't sit 
alone by my phone
waiting for texts 
that never come. 

I am not a broken woman. 
This is not a shattered heart.

holding onto my altitude

I'm lost again, 
rambling sideways and down,
always half a step from the edge. 

It would take a stiff wind
or a stiff drink 
to make me fall. 

I'd go down and down
seeing the latter's rungs
flash by me as I fell. 

Reaching out,
my fingertips would tap
tap tap taptaptap
faster on the latter's rungs
as I sped up
on my way toward 
the rocky bottom. 

But I am not falling. 
I'm weaving, 
holding onto my altitude, 
recklessly, stupidly
in love.

What’s left to give up?

I have spent too much time doing what’s good and necessary, too much time shaping myself into what other people want me to be and too little time being the strong and independent, zany and liberal woman that I am on the inside. Why do I try so hard to fit into a mold? Why do I fight against who I am? Why am I always so afraid of standing up for myself?

It’s this sick and twisted fact of my life that I try so hard to please everyone that I once said “yes” to a marriage proposal and spent 18 months engaged to someone I didn’t want to be engaged to simply because I didn’t want to turn him down when he asked me to marry him (after 6 weeks of dating) on Valentine’s Day. I didn’t want to hurt his feelings, but what about my feelings? What about me? When do I stop putting other people first and put myself first?

I know I should be in therapy to deal with all of these issues. There’s not just the engagement. There’s also the next man who came along, to whom I got married when I was pregnant because, god forbid, my family would be upset that I was pregnant and not married. I mean, seriously, what is wrong with me?

I need to make myself a manifesto, a credo to live by. I need to make a promise to myself that I will stop living for everyone else and start living for me. Other people do it. Other people stand up for themselves. It may be scary, but it’s possible. I know it must be possible. Terribly scary and difficult, but possible. And really…is there any alternative? I’ve pushed myself to the limit. I’ve gotten married for my family. I’ve stayed married for my children. I’ve given up on my education for my husband. I’ve dropped all my dreams, my wishes and my hopes for the people in my life who say they support me but manage to cut me down any chance they get.

What’s left to give up? I’ve become a shadow of myself, a wraith, a soulless woman without any hope for the future. If I am to get my hope back, if I am to dream again, I must start by being true to myself. I must start by standing up for myself. I must start by taking one little step at a time, toward escaping, toward freedom, toward love.

Is it a crime to be too honest?

I’ve never been particularly good at pretending to be someone I’m not. I’ve always had this streak of honesty that can be, I’ll admit it, embarrassing at times. It’s made me careful who I surround myself with and also very protective of the personal details of my life.

There are only a few people who know that I’m unhappy in my marriage. There are only a few people who know that I plan on leaving. It’s this glaring omission to me. It makes me feel like a liar, even though I feel like I’m doing what’s right for me right now.

I’m in therapy, where I talk about leaving, among other things. I wish I didn’t feel so alone in this. I feel like I’ll be hurting so many people by leaving. I feel like I’ll hurt my kids. I know I will. And my H will be devastated. I feel like my family will be disappointed in me too. I feel so alone.