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This summer garden is for you

27 Jul

I grew collards in this northern soil, like my sweet Daddy before me. I planted just weeks after he died, when it seemed impossible that my heart could nourish anything. He has no sons on earth to continue this work, but I will not lose more in this season. I croon his name as I inspect my tender plants in the morning, daddy daddy daddy daddy, every breath a prayer.

My collards grew proud and tall, assuring me there is still more of him somewhere. I plucked my first harvest with no joy. I rinsed and sliced and spiced in my little kitchen. I ache for Mississippi because I ache for simpler times. I have made a home – I have worked my land.

I made a precious feast for his only brother. Just a handful of greens to show that I love you, that my heart has travelled just like yours. They were delicious, but also not as good.

I drank the pot likker alone in the kitchen, I wanted every bitter drop. Just like my grief, it makes me grimace but contains essential sustenance for the next season.

When it’s time for leaving

30 May

Part of me is in the spirit world with my father. I am holding my place here, but my heart wanders in and out. I begged him to go meet his sons in heaven, I begged him to walk in the garden. We were real toughies. He wanted to stay, but not like this. I have the joyful burden of honoring him until I find him again. I will know you when I see you.

I hope you’ll understand

30 Mar

My father is the son of an old man, who himself was the son of an old man. He is sort of an impossibility – the son of a WWI veteran hanging out in the future. He is unforgettable, I think, because he wasn’t supposed to be.

I’m soaking up every moment of him that I can, which is both fruitless and kind of offensive. I’ll never have enough of him and couldn’t wouldn’t shouldn’t I have been better anyway?

We fried oysters and peeled shrimp, rolled joints and laughed so hard. We are making plans.

I drove Sean by the old pool where I learned to swim. Someone lives there now and made a home of my pool. You can live in the pool, I guess, but I am still swimming. My legs are strong, like an ox.

I hugged my uncle by marriage and he told me he liked the feel of my breasts against him. There was no blood or humanity or space between us.

There are so many ways to be a man. There are so many daughters.

I was matched with a man who skipped two generations to cherish me and give me a name. He rolled out of Mississippi to tame my Yankee mama.

Like any travelling man, he may only stay a very short time. But this moment with him – this not enough of him that I am confronting

Is worth 100 years of a man

Who held me as a baby and feels, in me, a woman to defile.

All That You Love

29 May

My darling dad has cancer. In order for him to get better, we have to almost kill him. Get him very very very close to dying and then coax him back. It’s a cruel thing to ask of someone, but we did and so he’s doing it. It’s working, because he got very very very close.

I walked the night road with my father. In his sleep, he begged God for release, for aid and succor. I knelt and eased socks on his tender feet, like you would with a tiny baby.

I cut his hair in the laundry room, while he hunched over in a kitchen chair.  I laid my head on his chest and tried to match my heartbeat with his.

This is my birthright, the most natural horrible thing for a faithful daughter.

He’s strong as ox. We have coaxed him back, for now, with the promise that next summer things will be different.

Getting the Band Back Together

16 May

Now with more heartache.

In The Broad Daylight

20 Dec

Like my mother and sisters before me, I have packed up and fled the north to be with my one true love. It was my greatest caper, one that I willed into existence with God’s good graces and a couple hundred bucks. Our world of two fits in a small bungalow, where my cats learned to walk up and down stairs. So much that plagued me seems dream-like and far away. I don’t think that I’ve been cured by romance, necessarily. Being loved is not the balm I always thought it would be. But being genuinely liked? That is a horse of a different color.

An Open Letter to Genghis Khan

7 Jun

I have shoveled shit in the form of first date (and further) conversation for 6 years. I have heard ridiculous, stupid, offensive things. I used to think that these guys were feeding me these lines because they figured I was stupid. But mostly it’s that men think they are terribly smart and very sneaky.

To the men who have told me on first dates that they are nomads and can’t be tied down to one woman, I say this: You are not Genghis Khan. You are not a nomad. You do not travel the Earth. You won’t even meet me on my side of town for a drink. You have lived in Traverse City for 10 years. You are not a nomad. You just want to fuck around, with anyone who will let you. And that’s fine! But don’t present this to me as some fucking philosophy, some adherence to your primal roots. I’m not stupid and you, again, are not Genghis Khan. You work at a car wash and can’t cut up a chicken. Spare me your high-minded thoughts on monogamy , which – if I have not made myself clear – is completely unrelated to being nomadic. Which you are not.

I have heard more and I have heard less.

I don’t want to talk to you because it’s a beautiful day.

I can’t sleep over because my cat is afraid of the dark and I really need to be home with him.

I can only meet at 3:30 and if you can’t meet at 3:30 WE ARE NEVER GOING TO WORK.

I just never know when I’m going to want to see you.

If you’re lucky I’ll make plans with you.

I don’t have to give you money for Plan B because I would help you raise the baby if you got pregnant.


I wasn’t tricked by any of this, you know? I go in with my eyes open. My heart and libido lead the way. But I know what I’m doing. I just don’t know why.



Wondering wondering

4 Jun

Who are you, my sweet readers? I see you behind the scenes. How did we find each other? Have I loved you? Why don’t you ever say hello?

It’s A Beautiful Day

14 May

The last time I had sex with Elijah, he choked me so hard  that I saw stars. I couldn’t tell him to stop and I probably wouldn’t have anyway. We were both drunk and had argued most of the evening. I tried to speak to him during a guitar solo at a bonfire. Big mistake. I was stupidly in love with him and I let him treat me like shit because that’s what he wanted to do. And ever the faithful woman, I wanted my man to do what he wanted.

I woke up in a panic in the middle of the night, though. My throat was tight and incredibly painful. I felt bruised on the inside though there were no marks on me.

The next morning, I sat naked on his couch and smoked a cigarette. I told him that I didn’t think we should see each other anymore. He shrugged and agreed, saying, “My memory of last night is very different from yours.” He didn’t apologize for scaring me or hurting me. It never occurred to him, like so many before and after, that he had anything to be sorry for. He told me that he didn’t love me and I would find someone better than him.

I don’t hate him. He was plainly a monster. I hate myself for allowing him in my life. So even now, he avoids consequences.

I want very little from the men in my life aside from the truth and a little discretion. Which, of course, I never get.

I have dated since Elijah, men that are more or less disappointing in equal measure. Maybe less aggressive in bed, maybe more. Still, though. They are all very busy. They don’t ask me questions about my life. They interpret my kindness as love. It is usually just human decency. It is never love. And who can say when it will be love? It’s hard to have a heart of any kind – broken, open, adventurous – when I don’t even feel like a human. I don’t feel like a real girl. I just feel like someone’s doll, his hands around my neck.

Filthy Cute

25 Apr

My mother was a big fan of MTV when I was a kid (it’s not for nothing that my little sister’s first words were to “Welcome to the Jungle”) and I remember being totally enraptured by Prince’s music videos. Very clearly I recall sitting on the floor in the living room of our 2 bedroom duplex and whispering to my older sister, “I think Prince is probably kinky.” I  didn’t know that word in any context other than Prince.

In college, I used all my tips from a night of bartending to buy a ticket to see him on his Musicology tour. I was recently obsessed with “When U Were Mine” because Crooked Fingers covered it and I have, if nothing else, a perpetually broken heart. He played “Cream” on acoustic guitar, alone on the stage in the round, and in that moment I am pretty sure I became a woman. Menstruation and maidenhead paled in comparison to seeing this tiny man sing.

At my wedding, after we danced to an appropriately lovely love song, we chose “Let’s Go Crazy” to play right after. And we did, for three immeasurable years.

I bonded with my therapist over our shared love of Prince – she had actually seen him in Minneapolis and I felt she had sufficient good taste to guide me through my madness.

I am selfishly sad that he died because I wanted to enjoy more of his music. Like most people, I am greedy even in my grief.