wiley

i was alone in the house.

that house was always so small:

little wooden rooms, littler wooden furniture.

i was sleeping—deep, on a tiny single bed.

 

it was morning, and everyone had gone to work.

your grandmother had not yet arrived from puerto rico.

the last person to leave had left the door unlocked, and

i was alone in the house.

 

i woke to a heavy feeling on my back, like a weight

pressing down, pressing me into the mattress.

i was trying to move, trying to open my eyes,

but i was frozen. i could not move, could not see,

 

could not make a sound. something was on top of me.

something was on top of me.

it was pushing down—hard, a presence so strong

but silent

 

and i could do nothing. i had the distinct feeling that

if i could just open my eyes, it would leave,

if i could just open my eyes,

it would have no choice but to disappear.

 

i thought maybe if i were dreaming, i could control

it as i had the power to do as a child. but i could

not force my eyes open, as hard as i tried.

i was paralyzed.

 

and then there was thrashing,

heavy beating

down on my back, pressing me further into the bed,

and i could not move, could not get away.

 

it wasn’t painful as much as terrifying—and heavy,

so heavy, suffocating. if felt like a bruising that

was trying to get inside me, under my skin.

it was trying to break me.

 

it seemed to go on for hours. i lost track of time.

everything felt dark and twisted, both distant and

immediate. i do not know what finally made it stop.

but it was suddenly quiet and still.

 

i could hear again—the birds through the

window. i could see the sun coming through the slats.

i felt so tired, so worn down, and i touched my aching

back with my hands, expecting to feel a mass there.

 

i stood on shaking legs and pulled up my shirt, trying to see

the bruises in the mirror, but they were not there.

nothing was there.

but the aching was there, on the inside.

 

was it a dream?

a nightmare?

i could not know.

i could not know.

 

this was not the first time i had felt an unwelcome presence

in that house. but it was the first time it had challenged me.

i had woken up. i did not have any marks on me.

did this mean i had won?

 

i stumbled to the door, opened it—half-expecting

to see someone fleeing from the house. could it have been

a real person? could that have really happened to me?

what is real?

 

i closed the door, locked it, went back to the room. oddly,

i was able to fall back asleep, deep—in that tiny single bed.

and when i woke, i half-remembered it all as a dream, as a

fog, as a confused dark descending down on me until this day.

 

 

 

another lifetime

the heat called your name,

called you in.  you found me

sitting cross-legged in the glint

of candles: naked on the bed, on a

raft, in a teepee. you sat across

from me and became an indian

chief in a field under a moon

wearing a headdress. my fever

opened wide and took you in;

we rode the rush of blood and

animals and skin—past the hurt,

the mundane, the doubt, the every-

day terrain. only toward the end

did you turn into a demon; but by

then i was already there and gone.

 

get up and out

so now i will tell you there is actual joy in

allowing something to dwindle down to its

very last drip. sometimes you need to see

the bottom of the barrel: the empty panic;

the dark places where you have scratched and

scraped to get by; the tiny spaces that hold the

last bits of grainy fluid before going dry. mean-

 

while, above ground, in full view of sun instead

of storage, there is a grand canyon piano with no

quiet pedal just waiting to be played. get up and

out of the basement. it will still be there, splayed

under your feet, holding your wares, your fears,

holding you up. but you need not stare at the

scaffolding. there is a whole horizon of sky for that.

 

whales and wolves

you are here, and not here:

 

fly-swimming over deep

caverns and continents;

 

pack-running through the

wood-keep of your ancestors.

 

i am there, and not there:

 

scouring for seed sounds in the

caves best made for shouting.

 

the echoes know the truth;

they have been here before:

 

ma, da, wa, ka

ma, da, wa, ka

maybe

maybe the place you’ve been stabbed in the

back is where the wings begin to sprout.

 

maybe we are the same one hundred people

returning to earth again and again until the

 

truth comes out: who we really are, what we

are here to do, how the sun is a dual entity:

 

for life-energy and for fire. if god can feel

wrath and jealousy, what hope have we?

 

multiples recycling through this planet,

spending lifetimes growing wings,

 

swimming through the dark glass

mumbling thank you and please.

 

forever

some words are too small:

daughter, mom,

 

boyfriend, blood.

some are too big,

 

especially early on:

god, love. we keep trying

 

to fit them on, but the glove

won’t succumb. it’s a

 

game of time played for-

ever and rarely won.

humanity v. machinery

without light

there is no color.

 

darkness is

the default.

 

you have been given a hall pass;

why aren’t you wandering?

 

tunnels of cool white tile, green carpet as quiet as moss,

hundreds of stampeding feet now caught in class.

 

if you go straight from point a to

point b, you are squandering your

 

right to stay in the liminal

for just a little while.

 

every thing will pick back up too

quickly and too easily and this

 

moment will be gone.  with great

beauty comes great risk—the light of

 

dawn; and the bigger dare: to follow the

red neon signs and exit the building.