Lessons from the bikini contest

They don’t tell you that solitude can be a weapon, a way of making a body feel it must just be me when there were signs all along that

The contest was never what it seemed to be

Resembling a stock show more than a beauty contest

Told to line up

The hand-picked female handler writes numbers in permanent marker

on our haunches

And maybe don’t question too much what the girl in the high heels, glitter, push-up top

Is doing giving free twerking lessons

To doe-eyed coeds

And a heifer like me

Careful to keep my cloven hooves

And rising ire

Under wraps

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Because I lost you

I see the child, backlit by this extraordinary light, and because I lost you I know the kind of pain

Can come with a picture when the child is gone

I will always

Love you, child

No matter how Minotaur you make me

In this labyrinth

I have learned to

call home

Darkest Secret

The smallish courtroom in the smallish building in the smallish town near the coast. I used to say the armpit of Texas and that is when I liked the place where the d.a. joked in juvenile court about the time his underlings ribbed him for his inadvertently possessed marijuana plant

I

I carry around the iterations of the Baptist pastor, the university president, the camp cook, the college preacher, the old friend, missionary doctor, adoptive cohort, biological aunts, uncles, cousins

Immediate family

With fear in their eyes because I

I

Told the story

About everything except the day they adjudicated Charles

My subjunctive regret

Had I been present in the smallish courtroom in the smallish building with the smallish judge

Would they still have been able to

Lie for him?

Let him off so Scott-free

Smallish voice says over and over

I should have been there.

That day.

The Stages of Grief

The call costs five cents a minute and you have to be ready with a form of payment. On the other end of the line there is

A princess stuck in a well

Bears curled in around a wee-sleepy home invader

A girl in a badly blended family with a knack for the most inconvenient footwear

And all the rest of us-

sleeping beauties, garden-of-Gethsemane-tired

Of hearing about

This impending crucifixion.

The Bear in the Woods

The day that Miracle died we walked in the mountains. Two bears walked ahead of us and their presence seemed ordained, magical.

It was magical I tell myself even though she died.

Sometimes I feel like I am out of mantras, out of coins for the machine, no longer capable of telling myself to believe it will all be ok.

Then Casey Hathaway tells us all about the bear who kept him company in the woods we have all got lost in and

I go there to find Him too, lean into his ursine chest, sob a little.

Believe He is real, despite the feat in our eyes.