“Delicate”

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“Delicate”

There were years I lived in a small cabin and tended to the earth.
Coming in from chopping wood for hours, stomping
my dirt cracked boots by the open screen door.
Those were the years of my life I felt the strongest.

I think about how you used to call me Samson,
even though, I had lost my beautiful curls,
that fell like golden leaves or sunflower petals
bit by bit in the early years we were in love.

I don’t pretend to know the meaning of my own life
or my own power. You gone. My hair gone.
Perhaps you knew more about me than I did,
as you buzzed off my curls for the final time

on a humid summer night on a porch in South Carolina.
It was the second time we talked. The first,
a few days earlier, I’d moved in and was soaking wet
when you showed up at my doorstep to welcome me.

Years later as we walked the humid, desolate streets
of the small Tennessee town we lived in, as the whole world slept,
I told you “the moment I saw you, I knew
you were going to be of some importance in my life.’

From the beginning, you would lay in my arms and
insist that you loved me before anyone else.
Then you’d quietly call me your Samson,
and all I wanted to do was protect you.

I knew, though, what you were really saying.
I knew the story. I knew I was giving you my strength.
I knew you always felt the pillars falling on us.
Crushing our love into a fable.

The nights in our cabin, I never slept so peaceful.
Foxes and skunks fighting outside,
black bears descending upon the town in search of garbage treasure,
the mountain lion that cried like a baby outside the window.

In those years, when sleep would lose me,
I’d get up and bake pies, as I watched the nocturnal animals.
Part baker, part anthropologist,
part human trying to find something holy.

I’d work with the crust trying to form something.
All night, I’d work to create shape from nothingness,
to give physical taste to the sweetness of
the simplicity of a world filled with simple pleasures.

There were nights you’d wake to find me,
staring blankly out into the night,
holding a glass of milk, tending to the cacti
sitting in the window sill that I nursed back to life,

the previous owners left them for dead,
abused them, put cigarette burns on them.
I still believed then I could save anything
if you loved it enough and believed in it.

You would come up from behind me,
rub my shoulders. You already knew then
glasses of milk in dark kitchens was my addict speak,
my way of saying, I can love anything but myself.

You called me Samson and ran your fingers
down the xylophone of my protruding ribs.
You, who ate the pies I made but never dared eat.
You, who knew how addicted I was to starvation and emptiness.

I taught you men were safe to be with,
how to allow someone to hold you,
love you, caress you
without trying to harm or defile you.

Sometimes you’d cry and insist
your love for me would destroy you.
You were right, you saw the Samson in me.
You saw the power, the strength I was blind to in myself.

You often told me you could feel the soul of a Grizzly
in me. You were insistent that something in me was
untamed and could never be contained. You insisted
I was too wild for this world, unable to be domesticated.

I’d pull back your blonde hair and kiss your neck
assuring you I was content. I was present with you,
and I wanted to mean it. Every part of me wanted
it to be you just needing affirmation of my love for you.

One day I woke up and found myself
In the most fearful, wild place I’d ever been.
Content, which is a pretty fearful place,
especially because now the things you predicted might not happen.

You told me you were afraid of me being untamed and wild
because you were not ready for me to be content.
You told me I would be your downfall
because you didn’t want to admit you might be your own downfall.

You didn’t mind the skeletal me, the hungry me
because he never expected any nourishment from you.
He was so busy starving, he couldn’t be hungry
enough to love you the way you ‘needed.’

I came with curls, and you buzzed them off.
When you realized I loved you,
you ran for those clippers. Better to let the pillars fall,
then allow Samson to love you.

I changed the story though, when I left
my empty milk glass on the counter,
along with the few remaining curls I had left,
leaving you took all the power my emaciated self had left.

I gave you the prophecy you wanted,
the one thing I had left to leave you.
You knew you were too fragile to love me,
and, when I had nothing left, I could give you my absence.

I gave you every part of myself,
every piece of power I had.
All my brokenness and vulnerability,
a gift no one will ever has got or will get from me.

I just wonder when the pillars fell,
destroying us both, crushing us,
did you have a smile on your face.
Did you perish thinking I never knew Delilah means ‘delicate.’

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