Big Enough to Step Inside

poem for celia

fuzzy telephone person
i’d bless you if your body
weren’t round the clock in pain—
it makes me unable to relate

enter: two unhappy all-
passing by most marks

your pain: grief in a shiny black
chrysler with a fat square
grill. you don’t like to talk about it
you tell me, but you can

my pain: mom throws me
under a bus, fingers swell
eye black to go sledding
i ride an upright chariot

into the space surrounding my body
like i have never learned to before
our pain: i need to get on medication
& you need to get off

gum up chocolate on our
front teeth to laugh. a space big
enough to step inside of
my pain: i need to trust

the man i don’t trust, i tell you over and
over. benadryl for bee sting, i thought
i would hallucinate the day you left
corn maze in bowling green

ohio, speaking out memories of
childhood to gain ground in mom’s
jeep liberty. you draw a solidarity fist
in your sorority house, i take course

called “black feminist thought” but
have no black friends. your parents
bought you a black baby doll
a lacey shirt and onyx bra

first love, nylon tent, white bread
sandwich. i am possessive
i am your best friend. camel
filter daisy, teal shadow

dirty toe. black, white & red on
a belle. you cajole to perk
from a different state. my prom date
my sister, my voicemail box

cannot receive new
messages at this time
my pain: smiles under a
lampshade, knuckles inflamed


hook peeking out from inside
nose. you paint my room while
i’m stuck in some amber
you paint me healthy in a stony

blue box. remember how sometimes
you got purple feet?
my pain: dawn feeds
tomato soup

but it mutates to suffering
your pain: not just physical
not foot but coccyx
not sex but fear

obsidian, carnelian
shunghite in matrix
more primitive maybe
even than language

your pain: for which silver
lining is alive. pocket buddha
static, angel-haired and high
your pain: hides from me

in health
and in sickness
meditation, axis, omen
our pain: we can love with

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