Monthly Archives: September 2009

unexpected magic

Lastnight something extraordinary happened.

Two years ago my good friend was going through a painful break up. He had planned on visiting his girlfriend in Portland in the fall and a few weeks before his trip they ended things. He couldn’t return the ticket, so he went anyway and tried to make the most of it by hanging out with Alaskan friends he had there. One night his friends threw a party and I found him in the basement playing music and drinking PBR. We sang some songs, but mostly we talked about his break up. He was very sad, I consoled him. He just wanted to go to bed, but there was a party happening on the couch he had been sleeping on. I told him he could come sleep at my house. We were the affectionate type of friends. We had drunken sex once when I was sixteen, but that was five years in the past. Our friendship had always been charged with sexual electricity and mutual flattery (we’re both fierce Leos) but the boundaries of our friendship had remained platonic. 

So we climbed into bed and I was the big spoon. I felt so much love for this dear friend and was glad to be there to comfort him. I held him tight and told him I loved him. Content, my mind settled and I started to drift off. After a few minutes he took my hand and pushed it towards his crotch. Really? I thought, really? I moved my hand back to his shoulders thinking maybe I had imagined it. I dozed. It happened again. I told him I wasn’t interested. He apologized. A few minutes later he tried AGAIN. Shocked, I ripped my arm away from him and turned to face the wall. At this point I was actually pissed off. Not five minutes later I heard rustling in the bed. I opened my eyes, staring at the wall. He was masturbating in my bed. I was frozen. My mind was spinning with rage and feelings of violation. I should have kicked his ass out of my studio apartment. But I couldn’t, I was paralyzed.

In the morning we said nothing. I faked a hug goodbye and didn’t talk to him again for two years. It was easy to avoid him because we lived in different states. I just didn’t know what to say. I didn’t want to make up and I didn’t think he would even know or take seriously what he had done wrong. He was self-absorbed, condescending, and slightly misogynistic and I couldn’t explain things like consent to my non-feminist friends without coming across like a Man-Hating Bitch. I knew I would never get the resolution I wanted and I didn’t want a shallow and insincere friendship with him. So we did not talk. I wrote a poem about it and it felt really good, but I don’t like it anymore.

So, when I came home to Alaska this summer I didn’t know how to act around him. I still thought what he did was wrong, but I didn’t feel like ignoring him was going to work, plus I wasn’t Super-Pissed anymore. We made small talk and I was awkward. He made subtle comments acknowledging that there hadn’t been any contact in the last two years. I pretended not to notice. This went on all summer, he said a lot of things like “You’re different. Why are you so quiet?”. I shrugged it off.

And then there was lastnight.

I went to see White Magic at a bar downtown. I was out on the patio, saw him there and felt like I should say Hi. We made small talk, and I felt uncomfortable. Then he called me out. In an unaccusatory tone he told me I had been acting weird all summer, why? I told him that I didn’t know how to explain it to him, but that I was over it, so let’s put it behind us. He plainly and uncondescendingly asked me to try to explain it. Oh, what the hell, I thought. I told him that it was about when I saw him in Portland. That I hadn’t been interested in sex and he had pushed my boundaries and I felt really shocked and violated by it.

And then he apologized.

He said that he was in a rough place and made a bad decision to try to make himself feel better, but that it didn’t excuse his behavior. He said that he was very sorry he had made me feel violated and knew that I wasn’t even interested in men at the time and even if I was, he should have backed off when I told him to. He was sincere. In his eyes I could tell he had been thinking about this for a long time. He had put himself in my shoes, thought about my feelings and felt remorse. On. His. Own. There he was, in a fucking bar, saying EXACTLY what I needed him to, without my help.

I may be wrong, but I feel like this is not a typical outcome to such a story. Magic. What unexpected magic!

I feel so good about this. And it gives me a LOT of hope.

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let’s just be friends

is it weird that you have a photo labeled Tribe
that is of twenty-two white people posing?
yes, I decided, it is
you are twenty-two
I thought you were younger
hot, just electric
banging the drums with earnest angst
or love, or whatever
it didn’t matter
slipped you a note
and it worked!
it worked?
maybe it didn’t, but something did
don’t remember how your tongue moved in my mouth
but I remember it felt good, surprisingly
no, not queer, you said
bisexual
no, not that either
let’s just be friends!
sorry, sorry you said
all gorgeous and smile, sorry
impossibly white teeth, sorry
shimmering skin, perfect hair, Christian smile, sorry
your laugh rushes all the blood into my face
I laugh too
and let you go
oh well, I think
there’s plenty of other young, beautiful,  interesting,  stylish, hot dancing queers  in Anchorage to make out with
and then I laughed at my little joke


isabel

My grandmother feared for her life. That’s why she stayed.

She helped raise her brothers and sisters in the orphanage and boarding schools of Kake and Sitka after her parents died of Tuberculosis. Her father was Mexican, came to Alaska to work in the canneries, her mother was Tlingit. She married a white man and had twelve children. Her husband, my grandfather, raped her and their daughters, beat the boys. He was an alcoholic and died of a heart attack when my father was sixteen.

My father watched everyone he loved get beaten or raped for his whole childhood.

I cannot wrap my brain around this. The words aren’t in English.

All twelve of those tiny heartbeats. All of the scared little anxious blood pumping little pulse prayers. Survival blood. I carry it inside of me, suspended in my cells. The tiniest particles you could imagine, all swirled together with my own experiences and everything I have ever touched. It seizes, awakened, and I am trying to cry it all out of me. Like I can somehow love all of the bad things out of their past. I want to go back and Peter Pan my cousin who wet the bed ’til she was a teenager because her father came to her in the night. I think of my friend, neglected as a child. I want so badly to hug all of the love she didn’t recieve back into her.

But I can’t. It doesn’t work that way. I can’t take my uncle’s invisible handprints off of my cousin. My friend can never recieve enough embraces to make up for the lack of love she endured. And I can’t cry my grandfather out of existence.

When I was being inappropriately touched by my stepbrother at the age six or seven, my father had the file labeled “abuse” tucked so so so far away that he didn’t believe it, or he needed to deny it. And he didn’t come back into my life until I was eighteen. Even though he continued to see my brother every summer.

I am left with questions.

Does my father know how to love?

Did his mother love him? Was he ever a baby boy scooped up into the nest of a cradling embrace?

How come I’ve never seen a picture of him as a teenager? A kid, a baby?

Why didn’t my father want to raise me? Did the years just kind of get away from him?

Didn’t he want a baby girl of his own, to put all of his love into?

Didn’t he want to reconcile all of that rage and create something beautiful out of love?

Does he think I am beautiful?

What’s it like to have a father-daughter dance?

What does it feel like to have your father hand you a bouquet at your graduation?

What’s it like to ask your dad for advice?

What is it like to cry in his arms?

What does it feel like to be protected?

 

Most days I feel ok not knowing the answers to these questions.

But some days, like today, I am curled up, a sobbing little girl. And there’s still this hole in my pumping heart.

And I know that we’ll always be filling these cracks.


kibbles

my cat loves the sun
stretched white belly fur
toes spread
tiny pulsing pink pads
she is blissful, soaking up all it’s healing light
she knows it cures whatever ails her
if I believed in a heaven
it would exist in the universe that is her shimmering fur
among the glossy black spots
angelic and glowing
there is nothing more perfect than this.


satisfied

stepping over the sleepy dog
precious cup of golden coffee
the air is cooling, fall
lots and lots of asparagus
ate fish at the memorial
tattooed grandpa on my skin
good thick paper and nice black pens
cat fur mornings
travel dreams
words all stumbling over eachother
racing to burst out

look at me,

I’m satisfied!


eklutna

all week there’s been this electricity sparking out of me
any song with piano pulling at my heart
same as the fading memory of your gorgeous smile

I had to get out of the city
so I stretched the hand of my gas gage
alone

fireweed burns bold across the side of everything
I admire it like it is something I want to be

something about being on the highway really inspires me
so I sing and sing and compose all these genius lines for poems
and forget to write it all down

all the leaves will be fallen when you come back

I have lived in twenty-three homes
and I have never stuck with something for more than two years
I miss a connection to my native heritage that I’ve never known
as a kid, I too was paralyzed by my fears

I have my father’s teeth
the one who doesn’t know I’m gay
the one who doesn’t know me at all

I drive over the train tracks and through the narrow road
to a clearing that leads to a cliff opening into the ocean
I once heard whales coming up for air in the water below
I want to take you there

I’ve built a thousand walls around myself
that I secretly want you to jump

on my way back, watching the birches yellow
sudden hot tears

I want to scoop seventeen year old me up in my arms
and hold her tight
so that she can know that nothing is forever

weeping for all that sorrow
I make a sincere apology to myself
for ever losing track of the beauty in life

I am so deeply sorry
that I have ever thought about leaving all of this behind
giving up on all these chances

fireweed burns bold across the side of everything
I admire it like it is something I want to be.


thigh song

knife slung thigh song
thread bear finger strum
moonlit fuck song
sweat heavy heart strung
oh, don’t you know i’m holding you so close.