( M E T A M O R P H O S I S )

As children we are taught 

that a caterpillar becomes a butterfly— 


Eat, sleep, wake up beautiful.


But the truth is a caterpillar dissolves from the inside out

and must split itself down the seams

like sausage casing or too-tight pants

if it ever hopes to fly. 


The body turns to sludge 

around a heart and brain that stay in tact— 

a reminder that the universe likes us to pay for beauty with pain.


We all want to come back from the dead,

but don’t want to remember how it feels to die. 


This year my skin split open like the sky after a storm

and I had to fight like hell through chaos to reach grace. 

I let myself dissolve 

and emerged a changeling,

finally spreading wings I never knew I had

(I hid more than butterfly wings from myself

for twenty-nine years).

And though I’m grateful,
I will never take for granted the cost 

of becoming 

in a world that wanted me to stay exactly as I was. 



I wonder what the ground felt the first time it was touched by the rain.

Probably soft. and safe.

I wonder if the rain whispered it’s going to be okay 

as it filled up empty riverbeds with life.


The soft, the safe, 

and the pounding—


like the blood that races through my veins

when your skin touches mine,

like two hearts beating beneath a river of white sheets. 


The soft, the safe, the pounding, the life. 


When I visit the Sahara before a great rain, 

I’ll know the anticipation of waiting, and the relief of feeling alive once again.

When I visit the Sistine Chapel,  I’ll look up and know 

what Adam felt when God sparked life into him with nothing but a touch. 


The soft, the safe, the pounding, the life.  


I wake up early

and make my breakfast

we say bacon not pig 

because it is easier to digest

that way.



I hand money to a cashier

to pay for a new blouse


for a child to remain indentured

in a country 

I don’t even know exists.


It’s funny 

because I often look at the stars 

and think  no one will remember me 

once I’m gone


But today

I purchased death and slavery 

and I don’t think

anyone forgets 

the one who kills them 

or the one who keeps them in chains. 



My fingers trace spines of books

and they purr open 

unleashing thoughts and words and memories 

no one will ever understand in the same way I do.


I’ll tell you a secret-

some Sunday mornings,

I pretend to write poetry about books 

while I think about my hand on the small of your back

(painting vertebrae like numbers) 

and wonder what it would be like 

to open you up in the same way. 

( T H E   D R E A M )



I walk into the bathroom, and look in the mirror. Not only do I recognize the person staring back, but I know who she is and I like her. Sometimes, even love her. I smile and she smiles back, and her jaw isn’t clenched like she might be biting through her cheek behind a guise of manufactured joy. There are blemishes on her face but they are the color of peonies or poppies, not walking-through-the- hallway-head-bowed-hoping-no-one- sees. Her lips are petal smooth, not cracked and bleeding from picking. I look at her again,  her smile recedes like a peaceful wave from the shore, knowing it can always come back.  Now she doesn’t force it. Now she’s comfortable. Satisfied. Content. She’s accepted herself just the way she is. She looks away, I look away. Head full of clementines and first-snow feels and songs, not emptiness. And I think, this is how it feels to finally wake up. This is how it feels to have bloomed. 




On my knees 

(not) in church.


On thousand mile drives 

wondering how easy it’d be 

to crank the wheel and drive off the road 

or the edge of existence.


In  the eyes of men 

I made false idols out of 

because I could not find the will 

to love myself




with you 

because sometimes 

we don’t believe in God 

until we’ve touched something holy with our own two hands.