Benign

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There are things we write about again and again. Perhaps, they change our lives in such ways that we needlessly feel like we never capture the moment or the gesture. It is never quite right. In some cases, it never comes to this place where it feels 100% right. Other times, it shapes us and changes us in such ways, that it becomes ‘legend,’ or ‘folklore,’ in our minds. We begin to use it to tell other stories that have similar meanings to ourselves. This is one of those poems, but it’s not. I actually wrote the very first poem about this person and said everything I every wanted to say. It’s ‘to me,’ ‘perfect,’ and it captures the essence of everything she was and everything she was not. Have other poems been written about her or has she been used in other poems in a ‘folklore’ way, ‘yes.’ I had not written about her or our situation for years. When I started writing every morning a collection of poems called, “Divinity,’ the poems were dealing with all things that felt ‘divine,’ to me. It was a strange time because I was having to accept a lot of truths in my life. One of those truths is “I kind of got a shitty body,’ right from the start. Even my parents laugh when I say this. My physical body has been, not nearly the challenge it could be, but it’s been quite a bit. When you become ill and your physical body shuts down, you can’t do much. I often feel like I have all this energy and want to take on all this stuff, but my physical body is not built for it. It’s something that has long been a feeling. It’s also affected me psychologically and some OCD developed in that area along with a very restrictive eating disorder, which then turned to a very unhealthy relationship with food. I am currently working on that and there’s some guilt that I might have caused some of my health ailments due to the extreme ways I tend to ‘beat myself and my body up.’ Anyway, this poem, came in a different way. I was feeling very alone and isolated during the time I was writing these pieces, and I remember finding out I had this tumor, which I had to get checked. It was right in the beginning of a new adventure in my life. I was 24. I had literally just gotten to where I was going to live and was just meeting new friends. For all intents and purposes, things were going great and then this. I admit, I shut down for a few days. My health has failed me before. It’s caused me not to do things I wanted to do, and I was fearful this might be the case again. Then I met this wonderful girl and she was like nothing I’ve met before or since. She was fearless in this way, I can’t describe. She liked me, at my lowest, and that said and still says something wonderful about her. As a result of her supporting me through ‘the tumor,’ we built this wonderful relationship. It was, honestly, the best year of my life. Out of this dark moment, she became this bright light. I could never thank her enough for that. Even though, I did so in the other poem, which she has seen and heard, this one was more about reminding myself that in darkness sometimes we find our greatest light, which at the time, was something I really needed to remember.

Buttercup

It was fall and I was living in Blood on the Tracks,
you were meeting Holden Caufield for the first time.
I’d met Holden several times. I met my tumor
in a military clinic. Shadows from the past emerge,
and I cannot speak. I do a lot of rubbing body parts.
I paced the deserted beach, the rain began to soften.
You appeared like the moon from behind a cloud.
We laid down in the soft sand, our anatomies snow angeled
in the dirt. We did a lot of silent walking barefoot,
in a graveyard of branches we laid together,
as in some sort of fort, listening to spent waves crash against mute rock.
Sea and land, at a pivotal point of juncture.
Sea and land at a moment of crisis and decision.
I looked at her with eyes more troubled than
a whale finding itself in too shallow of water,
struggling with my own abundance. I said nothing.
We laid and stared at the wind ripped quartz like stars.
I told you of a miniature pond my grandfather helped build in the CCC,
that I love to run around when I am home. I told her
how the water mirrors the sky there. It’s really “Canadian Geese, water, weeds,”
but on the soft shore men fish with their sons and their sons,
and, in fall, the colors are flawless.” She listened with her mermaid eyes.
She batted her eyelashes in a way that felt rarely scared,
but was, somehow, uncertain and hopeful.
Her eyelashes another pinprick to my heart, hopeful to find a way inside.
I finally told her, in whispered hush, of the tumor living inside me.
Scared, I swallowed hard the truth inside me,
a hidden region still unformed fully and completely inarticulate.
The gulf suddenly widened and her answer was the beginning to other worlds.
She just held me as if her answer to my confession was,
Do you have questions about love? I told her about my plans
to spend a weekend in Savannah in a hotel with a box of cereal,
“The Great Hotel Escape,” I would find myself using it for years
when I found myself in strange landscapes where I found no self resonance.
“Will you take me?” On that beach, time stopped.
In my imagination, this girl wanted to know me,
when my bays were blue and bruised. She wanted to dive in.
I looked at this vessel, a woman oblivious to borders.
Her presence was there to serve fate. She was made to glide
across days as if they were made of glass. I slid into her eyes,
“I’d love you come,” I smiled. I stare at her. She reminded me
how the intricacy of details eventually defines us. She pulled my body close,
and in the uncertainty of what disease dwelled in my body,
she rubbed her hands all over me. The rituals we invented in secret,
under a fort of fallen trees on that rainy beach, in the dark of a Savannah hotel
eating cereal as she re-introduced me to Holden Caufield,
in the corners and edges where life is often dark and silent.
Our hearts relentlessly broke, eating at the shoreline, that first night,
where we stood pushing the great nothing into a temporary shape
so like the shape of the benign tumor,
whose permanency and detail only she and I still know.

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