You: A Poem

Your embrace has the softness of a love letter written in cotton ink on a rose scented summer day

When you speak your words feel like the soles of my feet walking the soil of the promised land

You are a warm meal after a soul debilitating winter’s day

You’re a kind greeting on the darkest of mornings

Your smile curves like the arrival of salvation when all has been lost

You’re the first breath after an eternity under bleak waters

You are the slow return of feeling on the tips of my numb fingers

You’re the birth of a long prayed for child

You’re the first drop of love on the dry cracks of a broken heart

You are the last tear of agony and first tear of joy

You’re all and more

All I’d ever, and could ever, ever hope for

washing curtains at 2am

I often wondered how quick

My mother was prone to rid

Of the mud steps that trailed

Behind us after we’ve played and skipped

Under the apple trees and dirty fields

How her hand was so fast enough to wipe

The dust before it got too cozy on the tables

The cobwebs never got a fair chance to display

Their well-knit patterns on the corners of our ceilings

Or the places you never imagined to reach

I often wondered how much more gleam

From the windows and the looking glass

Would come from the fussy, fervent rubbing

Our collars remained free from the sweat stains of our neck

With us having worn them to the bone, stitch, thread

How her fingers had the time to separate themselves

To seal gaping holes throughout our home

Our wiggly toes stayed behind sewn socks

Elbows behind the stitched walls of passed down sweaters

Without a typical trade to go and clock into

As our father always reminded us about the bread he won

The sun would still find her awake, and retired before her

On her heels, on her knees, stirring meals, scrubbing stains

The skin off her knuckles peeled

Her nails brittle and torn

And yet there she was, sun dancing, dust beating, storms roaring

On her heels, on her knees, stirring meals, scrubbing stains

I understood, the day I found my back bent over the washing tub

At the back of our house

Under the moonlight and hooting owls

Washing curtains at 2am

Fervently, urgently, restlessly, ravingly

With the hope that the water running down the drain

Will wash away the blood

That was pooling between the spaces

Of my broken heart

the lover who didn’t speak

many lovers have passed

have asked too much about

things unrelated to the dialect of our bodies

many lovers have opened their mouths

too wide for me not to ignore the sounds

of exaggerated courtships and conquests

too wide for me not to see the teeth

stained by peppered stories of pursuits

but this man, this man in particular

oh, he’s a mouthful alright

in the right places, at the right time

with a language that’s not mine

but the hair standing on my skin comprehends

with neither translations nor explanations

undeterred hands that hold their own language

at the centre of his palms

and they speak to me

sing to me

conversing with me

in tireless twists

moving me on a neat page of cursive inscription

until those proficient hands

bring me as close as one can be

to the soft poetry that flows from the lips

of the gods