this is when we had to wait

originally published on great weather for MEDIA


I am younger than this moment. Maybe six or four or eleven years old. Tilted against my mother’s hip or arm outstretched for free sample of stale cheese or aged meat: there I am. Can you find me. Hair fainter than it is right now and much curlier. Longer, of course. My grandmother always begged me not to cut it. Why do we choose to forget how to listen during the times we should most.ah

I grab a ticket made of paper with a number on it and then stretch eyes to a neon screen. There are at least five numbers between the one I have against my palm and the one in lights. We must wait.

Of course, I am at Food Town or Grand Union or whatever New Jersey supermarket will accept the most coupons in this moment in this memory. My mother and I are at the deli counter purchasing processed animals and curds of milk. This is before I lost my ability to remember.

This is when we had to wait.

Remember this? When tickets told us when we could place our order. Doors, which closed and locked, led us far away from phone calls because phones were attached to long, windy chords attached to walls. Texts were on paper, not screens pressed into our over-priced pockets.

This is when we had to wait.

I remember—back when I still could—that I had a pen pal in Operation Desert Storm when that was the war of the moment. I felt strange curling my letters into cursive moments, telling this man—this soldier—about my day. Silly snapshots of lunchtime and unrequited love. Fighting with friends and the mess of my home life. I would wonder what my words felt like for him, when his sounds and mine were so divergent. Then I realized that was the point. We need to be reminded how others live in order to understand how to survive the war you’re in. And we are all in some sort of war. War of mind. Of body. Of political disagreements. Whatever the cause or title may be.

I would wait for his letter to get dropped off into my mailbox by the diligent postal worker. Sometimes, by the time his response reached me, I had forgotten what he was responding to. He’d answer questions I forgot I had even asked him, but the wait was always worth it.

Perhaps we have overlooked the importance of patience. Pausing for an answer. Breathing before pressing out our responses.

I’ve recently challenged this wait even more by exchanging war hero with deceased poet, several decades past his last moment of breath. I know that I will never get an answer back this time—that it is more than just waiting—instead, this time it is about remaining inside the questions. To know that sometimes words are most important when they are written, even if no one is around to read them.


an urgency of.

What time is it.
Soon we are given back our lost hour and this makes me think that someone will arrive at my door and ring the bottom bell. They will have gold and red weaved fabric purchased for three dollars at summer stoop sale in Brooklyn. Inside, will be my 20’s.

Not currency……………………….years. 

Sometimes I feel an urgency to locate someone to root with. To impregnate me with poems that I birth out in painful contractions. Each time my water breaks, I will instruct my mate to leave the liquid alone.

I’ll need to pick out the sounds and search out the rhythm. 

We will have tiny jars of spices we’ve dried out from markets. Footprints of travelers in each room of our home. The sky will wear us as though it were a giant envelope and we are letters.

I will sift through my 20’s, then stuff them into my pocket like loose change. No need to peruse much longer than a few minutes. To remember. To recall. Split second reminders of life. That one. That time. That dislocation of breath. That excruciation of movement. The pills. Dark. Water in handfuls or handshakes. Rain. Locked out of car. Break-in. Burnt sienna. Across country. Moonsongs. Malbec. Macaroni and cheese. The musk of that one. Bookshops and the fire that tried to remove 27. And then. And then.


On Sundays, I peel away the folds of newspaper and bring out the section of Styles. In it, Modern Love. Here is where I find my salt and inclination toward the romantic. Here is where I also view the ones who are looking to stitch themselves to another. A lover once asked me why I look at the photos of strangers announcing their marriage. I don’t recall my answer, but what I was thinking:

This loneliness is unsympathetic and I am searching for photographs to remind me of what [could] bloom beside me. And I search for something to recognize. And [maybe] I search for me.


There is so much music in here. And someone inside this note whistles a tune that wraps itself around my expanding waste. I translate this high-pitched air as an urgency to remain. Or persistence to see what waits.


Our someone is still out there. Or maybe….they’ve just arrived. What matters is that with each sleep we gain insight into the dreams of our lymph nodes. I’ve got one beside right breast and it reminds me to wait. And it reminds me to [always] touch the parts of me that fear. And one day, that mate will arrive again. Like a swelling. Like a reminder that even in urgency, there is a need for patience.