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Sagittarius in the stars
etched in my arm
a symbol of honesty, integrity, resilience
I’ve often attributed to my successes.
My mother always told me that
I was luck itself since birth
and everyday since.

Car rides would never catch
red lights
events would align just right
if only I was there for it.

Like the shimmer at the top
of our Christmas tree
I yearned to glow as bright
as the expectations I was
born into.

The archer, the achiever
if the ground ever felt too hard
and the days passing seemed just
far from grasp
anchor yourself in the stars that
predisposed your path
all those years ago
and what is still to come.

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62

 

 

frothed, agitated

you’re always picking a fight

no milk, no sugar

 

 

 

61

first snowfall:
dust flittering, quietly
off an unattended shelf
books from my childhood

you have no idea
how little I knew
before I knew you.
lighthouse, alight home
your pillow is always the softest.

loving you is like walking in the door, warm
the snow soaks into my clothes
turning to water and
rinsing me clean
you’ve always felt like
the sky itself, nestled
in my veins

never quite the gambling man,
you said you never believed in luck
until you saw my chances
and cast a bet anyway.

60

I once had this beautiful silk dress
dotted with oil stains
I couldn’t get out.
I’d wring my knuckles raw
trying to scrape this pattern
from a spot only I could see.

I would question everyone:
“Do you see a difference?”
“Can you tell?”
I could feel it on me
like bullet holes in my shoulder blade
lodged into my skin
and yet I only quantified myself
if someone else noticed, too.

an impurity
a part of me
that ached from the inside
at a time I used to count calories
and revel in my whittling
8, 6, 4, 2, 0
I embarked to be even more invisible than
those defects I desperately wanted someone
to notice

I wonder if that girl with the silk dress
understands why I gave it up
and why it was that
she so desperately tried to
erase an imperfection that wasn’t really there.
I certainly don’t fit in those
clothes of a time long past
and I may never get to 0 again
but at least
my knuckles are soft again.

59

A satin-sashed serenade
a foxtrot of forgiveness:
“you can do anything,
but
you can’t do everything.”
cue the world’s
most delicate fanfare

If I had as many arms as
I wished I did,
I’d be more extremity
than me.
My identity is not in
how much I continue to reach
but in my ability to pull back
when I’ve lost track.

Following each fork in the road
just to be sure I didn’t
miss anything
I ended up missing a lot:
invitations to a wine bottle, shared
cat-sitting a cat I don’t like
impromptu sushi nights
RSVP, respond later

I’ve discovered that the best part of sushi
is in the freshness of fish
not in the number of pieces
I can fit on my plate.

58

6AM, fragile morning air
whispers of fall.
orange hue, honey’s dew
my lungs breathe in
the crack of crème brûlée
nestled in the back of my throat
sweet, burnt
sun, rising

the cafe ’round the corner
he’s smiling at her
behind the counter
he imagines tucking her wisps
behind her ears, she
pours frothed milk
white ribbons
holding back a yawn

“Keep the change,”
“see you at lunch,”
the softest exchange
familiar faces for another time

When the sun has woken up too,
he’s mustered the strength
to ask if he can
see her again
in the evening.

57

“Come back to bed,”
like a phantom, eager
to pull me in and
hold me ransom.

Our past just so raw
I can roll it around on my tongue, sinewy
sepia memories and a history so faded
I can’t make out those people in the shot
embedded forever in film
I swear I may have seen before
a lifetime ago.

I’ve learned not to
seek refuge from those who
refused me in the rain
but did let me in when the sun shined.

Finding yourself tangled again
familiar bedsheets and instinctual fingers
remember that your own hands held the umbrella
that kept you from the storm,
not someone else’s promise that
this time, it’s different.