Penance for the Garden Left, #83

Ceaseless, this struggle so named,
voices of flesh and strangers
all greedy, wanting, begging
me for sympathy, for space
to roam and leniency
from the artificial rules
of abstinence, denial,
and the rigid impetus
on profit. I being just
a conscience, plainly flesh, mere
visiting spirit in skin,
grimace my eyes to spot kin.

Incessant, your kids and boss,
coworkers and cops hold up
statues and guidelines, contracts,
demand more ink, more blood, more
of your flesh. When will they quit?
Where is space to breathe, heal,
sing, wander into the old
theme parks of sweet memory,
gates all unlocked and rusty
aged security guards
left sleeping? Is there a way
to sit quiet in the ride?

They’ll claim you sit here to be
alone. Not so. The space so craved,
the leniency is not
for one, but for the hundred
voices, the thousand issues,
the infinite and divine
being inside who cowers
from a feral and greedy
parent, laying their unease
on raw and bleeding wrists,
on punctured ankles. The soul
is exhausted with living.

In sweats and an unwashed tee
the body they’ve labeled slob,
lay-about, good-for-nothing
quietly hums a song rose
from silence, from elbow room,
from a weekend long enough
to cleanse the days of labor,
make good on promise, and pay
penance for the garden left
unkempt and gnarly. In space
the child finds seed, sits down
beneath the old tree to eat.

Come with me my love, into
what you call our gluttonous
and wasteful space, rest down here
beside me and do nothing.
Recall, for a bit, the best
kiss we shared, recall the worst
sadness, one of us walking
away at dawn, the other
left. Let’s clean dishes and hang
pictures and later embrace
all of our skin. This quiet
leaves such a delightful space.

When I woke, you were sleeping.
The night had risen and what day
we were in stayed mystery.
The voices, the voices, lists
of must-do’s and don’t forgets,
bills and chores and court orders,
interminable projects,
skin itching and charlie-horsed
calves. One day soon a baby
will be crying. At least then
we won’t be lonely, this space
shared, a park in the building.

At dawn, I take a moment
before dressing to breathe, look
over pores in the mirror,
peer deep to remind myself
something else survives beneath
this echo. I ache to hold
my truths longer today
than the short fuse usually
lit by breakfast, burn to stay
calm. Embrace me please, provide
arms to hold and eyes to see.

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A day is not done, until it's filled with words.

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