Category Archives: thoughts

blender


photo by meg greer.

***

“i put your pancreas in the blender,” oliver said. “it spurted red colors so dark, they almost seemed blueish brown.”

“how could you do something so important without me?” i asked. “you’re not an artist. you’re nearly color blind. you never see what i see.”

it was an impossible conversation. “you have to see it,” he said.

he walked me to the kitchen like you would walk someone who had only just learned to walk. each step was uncertain like i was carrying the weight of an elephant in my calf. wasn’t this how being with him felt — heavy, inescapable? i swayed against him in the doorway, afraid to look, gentle back and forth whispers against the wall of his chest. for a moment, i lost myself in the movement and imagined for a moment that i was a young tree flirting with the wind instead of a middle-aged woman in a hospital talking to her dead lover.

forget i told you that part. i don’t need your pity. you don’t want to hear about the cells in my pancreas. i know i don’t. the sneaky little creeps that keep growing and spreading so silently that you would think they were the perfect house guests. you would invite them over for tea and sit and laugh with them until you realized they never left. they were the ones you felt beside you at night who stole your sleep as they dug their heels into your stomach and back.

oliver died of cancer too. damnit. i said too. “you’re still alive,” i whisper to myself, wrapping my arms around my body in the biggest hug i can muster. despite the years and miles between our diagnoses, the doctors used the same words to describe our cancer: unexplainable and unfortunate. did they all meet in a conference once a year that taught them words to use to convey compassion? why didn’t the words reach the blank look in their eyes? why is a woman who treated her body like a temple in the same situation as a man who smoked for twenty years?

oliver smelled like bubble gum and tobacco. can you believe that there was a time when i used to try to drown myself in that smell? when i thought i wouldn’t be able to live without being able to bury my face into his chest so deep that i all i could breathe was him. every single part of me loved him so much. if my toes could have clung to him, they would have.

somehow though my life got better without him. having my own air to breathe, my own scent to create, my own days to plan, built steps towards an inner peace that blossomed into a warm fire inside me that made me whole.

why is it then that now when the end is almost near, oliver is back crowding my every thought? instead of hearing the man coughing in the room next to mine, i’m with oliver again and we’re in our tiny brick kitchen in brooklyn.

“here,” he says, showing me the blender with a boyish grin. his eyes look sunken, his cheeks so thin, and his teeth are a stained dark brown. do we die frozen in our essence? this was the way oliver would have looked if you had turned him inside out. why had i lost so much of myself in this lifeless man?

and what about you, pancreas, i thought, staring into the blender. it didn’t look like the indomitable villain i had imagined. it seemed harmless torn apart into tiny little shreds. i felt a crazy impulse to kiss each strip and spread forgiveness with the warmth of my lips.

my blood was just as disappointing as my pancreas. it didn’t look bluebrown. it was a very dull red. i expected vivid ketchup colors just yearning to be scattered onto a canvas. i expected to feel different, lighter. shouldn’t the voids have raced out of my body without the vampire organ there to chase away the moments of hope each deep breath in and out brought?

“aren’t you happy?” oliver asked, stirring me out of my thoughts.

“yes, baby. thank you,” i said and brushed a kiss against his temple. “i have to do this alone though.” slowly, i walk away and my steps don’t feel like elephants at all, more like breathless butterfly flutters. my bed doesn’t feel like a hospital bed but like a hammock swaying in each breath of life. i don’t feel unexplainable or unfortunate. i feel alive, even if it’s just for each moment and i’m okay with that because each moment is all we ever really have.

–lissa


my dreams

***

my dreams want to fly across rooftops like superheroes. they’re tired of hiding underneath my bed, entangled in crumpled beginnings of new worlds scribbled on recycled paper. they want to conquer bad guys like sadness and fear rather than envision eating your lips off with extra strength bleach. i know it’s bad, momma, but i want to scrape you out of my life like wallpaper. i want to kill your words before they hit my insides like a hammer tap tapping hate.

momma, i made your favorite: chocolate cupcakes with pink frosting.
i got another masters degree for you.
i brought the ocean home with me so you could remember the way daddy used to smell.
i fit into my size two jeans from middle school you know the ones you saved for all those years to remind me of when i used to be good enough for you.

will you love me now?

my dreams want to find other dreams to join forces with and create world joy. they’ve given up on pleasing you, momma. you’re never happy. you’re sharp like a scissor and hungry like a tornado when you tear my dreams apart by their seams and swallow them whole.

don’t dream so big, i told my dreams. i don’t mean that. that’s something momma would say. i scratched under their chins and rested my cheek in their fur. i love you. i don’t want us to go out there and see that everyone is momma. they nodded. and we don’t want you to stay here and think that you are momma, they said.

we sank into my full size mattress and listened to the usual bed sores that caused the frame to groan in pain. we took ten breaths in and ten breaths out until our senses became still and the mattress felt like a hammock floating back and forth in a breeze. we didn’t break the cycle. we didn’t ask to fly or soar or leave but when we woke up we were covered in sand and daddy was hugging us. maybe we never really woke. maybe we dreamed our dreams into reality. or maybe a father scooped his sleepy daughter into his arms and finally made good on his promise to come back for her.

momma, i’ve left you. will you love me now?

-lissa


breathe love

the question isn’t will you love me, why don’t you love me anymore, or why has love forgotten about me? love cannot be given or taken. it is everywhere. i am love. you are love.

let me breathe love towards you like a fire breathing dragon. do you feel its incessant heat against your face, the way it dares to life places inside of you that you have long ago mourned and buried? don’t turn away and cover your face. you don’t need to fear love, say it won’t last, or pretend it doesn’t exist. it will never leave you.

the only question worth asking is why are you still waiting for something that is everywhere?

my heart leaped out of my chest like a small wrinkled frog. it opened its mouth, tongue dangling, panting as it ingested the contents of the room. a cycle of life transpired with each exchange: pale orange mist during inhalation and bright red sun during exhalation.

it sat on the white and pink patterned dresser in the corner of my room and stared at me. i watched it beat without me and  lost myself  in the beauty of silence filling the room. i  pet  it over and over amazed by its satin texture.

it grew plumper with each caress until suddenly it burst apart like twenty bullets had ricocheted its inner fibers. my cheeks seemed wet but i couldn’t feel the tears. how do you perform resuscitation on a heart? i gathered the pieces and attempted to mold them into one. it resisted; it wasn’t clay nor was it broken. instead of one, it was now twenty vesicles of love.

i pressed slivers of my heart to the space beneath my tongue, the inside of my eye lids, the narrow pads of my fingertips, and every spare inch of skin i could find. my heart intertwined the thread of its veins into my flesh. soon each breath, kiss, word, step, and touch i gave became more than just a habitual act; they were love. i was love, a love that didn’t fear, hide, or need — a love that only loved.

— lissa

postsecret photo uploaded by iceblink240.


make believe treehouse

***

animal’s strokefists cannot permeate the small treehouse in my mind where poppa’s smell of crushed sage and honey decorate the walls with warmth. i climb the heavy branches and press my feet against the grooves in the bark until i enter the soft cushion of his smell. it whispers love and i release my broken self and gently place it on the floor. i shrink into gingerbread size and enclose myself here.

soon i hear the sound of daddy coming home from work. i tip toe rush into his arms and he swings me around like a paper doll. he ruffles my hair and calls me sunshine. animal, daddy, and i sit at a tiny table stump. we eat banana nut bread together as daddy teaches animal the boundaries of touch. animal’s docile here and wags his head back and forth in awe of daddy. he helps me clear the table and then i put him in his pink cage. i give him a treat and pat his head and he smiles up at me.

we are only a family here — in the confines of these branches, the only place i can make sure daddy takes his lithium pills. daddy doesn’t beatbeatbeat animal (and animal, in turn, doesn’t beattouch me) because he can control the jazz in his mind before it becomes too frenzied, too intense, like it is about to ooze his brain cells out of his ear. he doesn’t slip so far below the bottom that he cannot get out of bed, loses his sixth job in the past three months, and leaves animal and i to find a way to keep the bill hunters away. he is our lion daddy here and finally he protects us.

–lissa

an extension of the characters in jasmine.


closing the flood gates of sorrow


photo by mrtriggerfinger.

***

his sadness is the kind that clings, fills oceans, and causes floods in your desire to help make him whole.

i want to infuse him with love. i want to be the heat that recedes the depth of his need. i’m not the first; perhaps the number of people who have felt the same could fill a small country. when he allows it, his charm hides his infinite voids, and he makes you laugh in places that feel like they were created by him. he awakens dead tissue in your love organ.

the chambers of my heart swell for him. i wrap my body around him and try to immerse love into his pores, try to let touch be a filter for my feelings.

he is the master of his own destiny though. i cannot drift to the dreamland he goes to with tall five-eyed monsters who tell him he’s not good enough so many times that he starts to foam at the mouth and shake.

i place cold wash cloths against his temple when he’s stilled. i press my lips against his and breathe warm, giant gulps of life into the depths of his lungs. you will never drown me like the others, i whisper when his breathing still hasn’t become regular. let it out.

he hides his face in my chest and softly cries the monsters out from his soul. i love you, he says, the vibration of his words stroking the middle of my chest. there’s a brief moment before he falls back to sleep where i see a sliver of darkness, a portion of his ocean of sadness, dissipate. it closes the flood gates another inch; it keeps me swimming.

–lissa


what if i only existed when you read me?

reader, i’m on the opposite side of your screen. can you feel me?

reach your hand through the page and stroke the nape of my neck. there’s a brief moment where you can slip your hand through the pixellated colors of your monitor and feel the wires of the machine wrap against your wrist as you get deeper and deeper into the computer and closer and closer to my neck.

reach for me and i’ll instinctively lean my head towards your fingers and feel the ripples in the ocean of our love as your hand runs up and down my skin. when your arm starts to weaken from the incredible stress involved in being in so many worlds at once, i’ll let out a soft whimper as i start to feel you pull away.

i can’t make my own ripples or contain enough love to fill a puddle of water. i’m not really an animal; i can’t sustain myself. i belong in the plant kingdom. i’m mostly broken. i could break and scatter the rest of myself into a small patch of soil and become something beautiful that you could keep in your sunroom and water each day. i would learn to grow tall, leaning towards the direction of your voice. i could live for you.

when we’re once again on opposite sides of the computer screen and you don’t know what to say to me because of course i can’t be your plant and you really are tired of my sad poems weighing you down, i’ll type “don’t worry. this is fiction.” you can breathe a big sigh of relief as you turn off your computer and decide on what you’re going to make yourself for dinner, completely unaware that without you, i am darkness.

–lissa


the hardest meal

***

Dinner was the hardest meal.

My dad would wait for me until late, seemingly incapable of eating alone. The two of us would sit at the kitchen table with the same white tablecloth that Momma had bought years ago although now it was faded rainbow because of all of the fruit punch, orange juice, and coffee spills.

I opened the door hoping he was in bed since it was already after ten o’clock. I peeked into the kitchen and saw him asleep in his chair.

The room smelled like tomato sauce. I lifted the pot and saw that he had made my favorite, spaghetti and vegan meatballs. The spaghetti had wrinkled and the sauce had dried. I quickly put some of the food onto a plate and sat down at the table. I twirled the spaghetti onto my fork and chewed as softly as possible.

He must have sensed I was there. He smiled faintly at me as he opened his eyes. His shirt engulfed his body, and his cheeks were thin as though he wasn’t eating enough. We went through our ritual conversation: How was your day, Mirabel? Good, Dad. What about yours? Good.

I never felt like he wanted to know more. His smile deepened when we had this conversation but his eyes looked down at the tablecloth, the wall, the darkness emanating from the window. This was all we usually said to each other.

Our conversations had been like this since Momma had left five years ago. I had been twelve then. The day she left he had stared out the window for hours, his breathing rushed as he held onto the edges of the table. Maybe when she left he had gone inside of himself and never come out.

There had been other women like the neighbor, his co-worker, but they hadn’t stayed for long. They could never make it through dinner. If you’re not used to it, the silence ate away at you.

It hadn’t always been like this. When Momma had been there, the conversations had been spirited and neverending. She would have to force us out of the kitchen so that she could clean up and we could go to sleep.

I loved to watch the two of them together. His eyes glowed soft charcoal colors for her. Her head slightly leaned towards him as she would smile at something he had said. Everything seemed perfect until the night before she left.

That night I slept on the sofa in the family room to escape them, crying softly into my teddy bear so they wouldn’t hear me. My chest shook like it would break. Did other kids have to go through this, I had wondered, staring at the television on mute. I watched Bill Cosby dancing with his TV children until sleep finally overtook me.

–lissa