Burials and Boxes

What am I meant to leave behind? Bury into the soggy, spring ground and walk away from? This morning, while walking the pup, each leg felt like an office building with more windows than one could count, and cubicles and photo albums from every calendar, and at least 100 underpaid employees, and it may have been someone’s birthday because there was cake and an awkwardly harmonized Happy Birthday. 

All of this latched onto, into my thighs as I walked.

This weight I carry with me cannot be lost with a diet of grains, gluten- and sugar-free, and more water. I don’t need to join a gym right now. At least, not because of this office building built into my body.

I think I need a burial. For everything I carry with me that can be let go of, that can be left behind.

Last night, I dreamt that I lost my sandbag. I was walking and fell–while clutching my sandbag–into a thick, deep pit of mud. It pulled me in, but I got out. Unfortunately, my sandbag did not make it.

In real life, I sleep with a purple sandbag stuffed with flaxseeds and scented with the calming aroma of lavender. Others may call it an eye pillow. Sandbag prefers to be called Sandbag. There are nights I wake up and cannot find it. I travel my fingers beneath each pillow, search further down the bed. My sleeping spouse will sometimes (instinctively) find it for me.

Some have teddy bears. Some prefer light music to fall asleep to. Some like to sleep in silk undergarments. Or leather. Or….we all have our needs.

For me, Sandbag puts me to sleep. And though I do sometimes put it over my eyes, there are many nights, I fall asleep clutching it like a wish against my chest.

To analyze my dreams, I become each person, each important part. This helps me to understand it, unfold it. A therapist suggested this once, and it has offered me quite a bit of insight.

So, as I walked my dog and felt the wet air twist itself into my curls, I thought about my dream. I became my sandbag, losing itself in the dirt. Burying itself.

So, what am I ready to bury and move away from?

My current therapist–the best one–has told me that I may be ready to rewrite my story. I keep telling the same one.

But I know it so well. I’ve memorized only a few facts, but THIS story I can recite backwards.

When I was in my twenties, I had boxes. The first one started when I was nineteen, and I was with my first girlfriend. It became a casket of memories, even though we were still together then, as I stuffed receipts from outings, movie stubs, love notes, photos, even some gifts. When we broke up, I couldn’t get rid of the box. It was such a large piece of us, so I hid it beneath my bed, in closets as I moved and carried it with me past many state lines.

The next box was smaller and that one bled into another box which was bigger and then my next box overflowed and I had to graduate into a bigger one. I never told anyone of my boxes because it was a way of holding on, it became another secret I collected (I was so good at that). But then, my partner (at the time) learned of my collection and asked me to get rid of them. I was reluctant, but understood. We were moving in together and it wasn’t right to move in my past loves too.

So. I threw. Them. Away.

There are some things we simply cannot get rid of. I’ve got this army of scars on my arms and (elsewhere) that cannot be recycled or composted or buried beneath my bed. I guess there are creams and treatments, but mine are so embedded, and just like my glasses and the way that I hiccup only once sometimes, they are a part of me.

My sandbag is trying to tell me something. As it comforts me through the night, it whispers in its healthy flaxseed-soaked voice: How about you stop living behind you, and living ahead, and start walking within your current?

I do not like to leave my house. The subway has become a traveling circus of panic attacks. Lately, I have been daydreaming of mountains and closet space. I just don’t know how to be present.

Perhaps this is all to say that maybe a contemplated burial is enough right now. A realization that yes, it is time to let go because by doing so, I can make room for more. More memories that have been waiting on line for years to get into the packed club that is me.

What I was and what I am have been battling my whole life. I am ready to examine what I could be.


before and then. after.

“I tried to concentrate on who I was before I became no one.”   –Roxane Gay (from “An Untamed State”)

Before, there were no roots. No deep breathing. Breaths just arrived naturally like high fives and appetite.

Before, there were no secret entryways carved out into closet walls. No scooping out of innards. Because then, everything seemed intact.

Before, there were no pronoun discrepancies. No body dysmorphia dislocation elocution elasticity. Because then, gender was pronounced in ink without eraser tip.

Before, blood was just blood. Gathered inside body like footnotes.

Before, breasts were waited on. Welcome mat in place for slightly delayed arrival.


And then. And then. Statements became questions and questions became concerns and concerns became diagnoses.

After…. there is still room for footnotes and nests to form in the crevices where the echoes are hushed. And all of this becomes just another poem. Another shout.out. Another misread op ed.

Or. An opening. For what arrives later on.

day 10: body as a project

The following is from a project I took part in called Body Stories. I was asked to free write about my body. This is what fell out.

You can click on the link below to listen. Also, the transcript is below as well.

Is Zero a NumberTranscription

Is there such a thing as fat free? And what are the good fats and is my fat good fat? Only when I was a baby, was my fat caressed and ok’d. My mother unfolded my layers before bath time to reach my folded skin. When I was in middle school she told me someday I’d reach 100 pounds and that is when everything remains. Stretchmarks. Cellulite. Things are looser now and how far along are the muscles? Big is too big and small is not small enough. MATH: Zero is not a number is zero a number? I am recognizing reflections in my skin. Nineteen years of age. Twenty-six. Thirty-two. I eat what my body tells me to. Not NY Times diet trends or my mother or lovers. My belly is schizophrenic and sometimes I am ok with these voices and sometimes I want to starve it away. Girdle it gone. So now I am thirty-four and my thighs are blurry and layered with guilt and years and I am in search of a mirror that that not mislead me. Today I am nude longer—ok in my hair and dryness and flabby and the flesh that refuses to harden. All of this is comforting. There was a time I think maybe I wanted to hide so I added more. What is left? I am a chalkboard of rejected menus—dust still soaking the air, reminding me what I’ve tried, attempted, lost track of. Scars. Scars. Here. Over here. Beneath here. And the worst are the invisible ones. And the worst ones are the ones that have been here the longest—birthed new ones—scars’ offspring. I am my body’s bully. At this age, my mother just reminds me to eat as though I’ll forget. She always wants to know what I am having for supper—maybe because it has been so long since we have had it together. Her body is my future body is her body my future? Diabetes. High cholesterol. Thyroid issues. Sad skin. Medicated, depressed skin. Liver spots and aged neck. And this is my future? If my body came from hers, is that my future?

I never grew up in a house where it was all about, “You must look a certain way,” but, in a really normal way, if we gained or lost weight, it was acknowledged. Everything in our cabinets was fat-free, or sugar-free – diet everything. My mom was in Weight Watchers for a time, and my sister was in Weight Watchers for a time, and that’s how it was. When I was growing up, and I was starting to create all of these scars on my body, then I became so embarrassed of my body and I never showed it. And so, for me, my body’s story is that I have scars on my arms, and they’re not going to go away. In a way, I think it’s important that I still see these scars because they’re a part of me, and they remind me of where I was at one point, and where I’m really not. Our bodies are evolving. They don’t stop. It’s like shedding skin. We’re shedding all over the place and it’s kind of beautiful.

letters written to my self on this day.

Dear Body.
I have been trying to rub you away like a rash
forcing you away from my bones.
Dear Breasts.
You remind me that I’m not       who I think     I am
I tried to explain to my mother, who gave me my first dose
That sometimes we need to knock on parts of our body
to see if anyone or anything   is really home
Dear Skin.
I think about finding a mate who can handle all these bruises burned into my osteoblasts.
A human who does not ask me to apologize for a past
that I chose and still confess to.
One who realizes the necessity of translating what existed into what exists.
Are scars just an alphabet that can be erased with proper creams and rubber-eraser tips?
What I was and what I am engage in a battle.
My body is a war zone, but it is also a skyscraper reflecting light and history.
My body is a question mark, but it is also a semi-colon separating my frayed parts.

Dear Amy (sic),

Here is the thing. I find you extremely persistent. You have a difficult time letting go of things. You fall in love so easily. And when you love, it scares you toward an exit sign. None of this is going to be simple. As wrinkles form and parts push their way off of you, you will still find yourself living inside skin that screams out new versions of itself everyday.

You are like a fancy phone: often running out of batteries, swiped at and (possibly) in need of an upgrade. But you are also like the moon: magical. And the sun: dangerously difficult to make eye contact with, but rewarding in your gaze. 

I am tapping you on the shoulder. I am trying to get your attention. I want to make you that mix tape you always beg for to remind you the importance of remaining.

1. The Winner Is, Mychael Danna and Devotchka
2. Comptine D’Un Autre Ete (La Demarche), Yann Tiersen
3. Sweetness, Pearl and the Beard
4. Home, Edward Sharpe
5. Colours, Graffiti6
6. I Will Wait, Mumford and Sons
7. Evelyn, Gregory Alan Isakov
8. Made to Love, John Legend
9. Dancing on my Own, Robyn
10. Quelqu’un’m’a dit, Carla Bruni

There may be a time when you look outside and start to see your self more. More and more people around you are presenting themselves in ways that represent their inside on their outside. This excites you. I know this because your face glows each time you see a human who blurs the boundaries of what a woman is or how a man should be. You are not so old that you are engraved and complete. There are so many more books you need to read and poems to write. So, can you stay? How about you stay?

Dear Scar.
I’d be wrong to promise no more siblings. We fall. We scab. New skin forms. A scar arrives. But how about I try not to give birth to anymore on purpose. 
Dear Gender.
It’s ok. You don’t need to footnote yourself. You can reference yourself as a punctuation mark. You have nothing to do with why your heart got hurt. There is someone out there who will love your awkward, your blur, your fear. You are expanding. How beautiful to arrive at a moment of clarity. Keep walking and you will find others who understand. State your boundaries, so there will be no more break-ins. Stop giving your key away. Move slower when trying to exhale out your particles. 
Not everything      not everyone       can be put inside a box, so start getting more comfortable with being outside. 

the end is just the beginning of admittance.

There were several last times. But the last last time was almost eight years ago.

I still struggle with what to call myself. Sometimes I will tell someone I am a former addict, but that doesn’t seem quite true. Former alludes to past and although it isn’t an active part of my present, my addiction resides in me at all times.

It has complicated relationships with lovers and kept me at a distance with friends. Although I no longer seek out drugs in the ways in which I used to, I never want to be in the same room as them.

My drug came in tiny bags and bottles, but my drug also existed inside me. Addictions often arrive in multiples. Though I consumed in front of others, I preferred being alone. It was my secret. I never wanted anyone to know how much or how often or the amount I was spending or what I was doing to get it. It was never cool or something I felt the need to confess to others. I always felt shame.

As I approach the anniversary of my birth, I look back on years of blurred breathing. I tried various modes of treatment, but what continues to work is arriving at each day approaching every hour one tick at a time.

As I write these words, I find myself watching letters lunge onto the screen and then disappear. I think: That is too much. You shouldn’t write that. Or no one needs to know all this about me.

We are living in a time when people post pictures of every meal they eat and document each moment of their day. We are no longer keeping things in. I struggle with giving too much away. I’ve kept a lot of secrets. I’ve lost lovers and friends because of this addiction as well. I don’t really feel the need to tell you about my intake of food or share a picture of myself on the subway in a bar in a dance club on the street in a bathroom.

What leads me to unzip, unfold and release some of this is because I know I am just one of many. Each time I ask someone to hold out their hands and I let something private slip out of my mouth, I feel closer to forgiveness of my self. All around us, people are dying due to various addictions and secrets that cause the ones who survive to ask questions: What could I have done? Should I have reacted sooner?

If I can save one person from starting, I’ll turn out my pockets and give them all the memories I stuff in there. I’m trying not to hide anymore. It is an extremely difficult procedure. To give away. To reveal. I can take off my clothes far easier than letting you know the traditions and lineage of my scars.

So there is no end to this, but some things have changed. I no longer seduce medicine cabinets like women, batting my eyes at milligram content and side effects. I (do my best to) stay far away from pills and prescriptions. I say no a lot more to remind myself that I can. I remind myself of the time I’ve accrued, but do not obsess over this. Addicts regress, but this doesn’t take away the strength of sobriety. This is why one day at a time is stitched into pillows and posters and bodies and meditative mantras. One can never say never again. It is an unfair summation. It just isn’t that easy.

So we mention today. Which will guide us toward tomorrow. And the day after that. And beyond.





the only air we need brushing our bodies is the kind that leaves us alone.

This is why I remove my clothes in performance (sometimes). To remind others that skin is not as smooth as the billboards insist. Scars are not flaws, but art forms on our skin. Discoloration on flesh does not have to be evened out. Freckles are like shadows of constellations. All these imperfections are actually poems that get to be explained and sung and turned into movements or moments of celebratory emphasis.

to speak on tenderness, place a ‘want’ ad and request a mountain.

One cannot plan the space between hours. All of these breaths are abstract performance pieces; you can watch and take notes.

Sip wine while photographing what you think all this might mean. Or. You can walk outside, sit in the earth’s lap and read Adrienne Rich poems to each other to learn about why all this happens.

You may be on a search for love but it’s been stuck to your skin like a birthmark before you were even able to pronounce such a word. And every human has been different. And their music deviated within each strand.

You may find comfort with a human in the darkness of a barroom bathroom, while pretending their body is yours. Their parts.

You may kiss a poet beneath the flickering moonlight on a night birthed just for that kind of moment. And then, write a song that speaks on the pull of doorframes and archived fonts.

Love is a collision of bones. Love is the ISBN you tattoo on your neck because it resembles the lines from your favorite book. Love is when she bats her eyelashes against your wrist and reminds you that scars are actually coordinates, not regret.


No one has imagined us. We want to live like trees,
sycamores blazing through the sulphuric air,
dappled with scars, still exuberantly budding,
our animal passion rooting in the city.
                                       ….Adrienne Rich.

closure: (n) shutdown; termination, discontinuation, cessation, finish, conclusion; failure; informal folding

Four more weeks of this and then you will be rebirthed into new date and new month and new new. Humans resolve to lose weight (during this time) and they join a gym instead of working out their sexiest body part called brain.

We are on a desperate seach of how to properly end this year. With booze or boys or favorite lover. What music to play and what hors d’oeuvres to serve. At a cabin in the woods or in an overcrowded club in Brooklyn. With hundreds of strangers or one other or just yourself.

You line up your goals for the new year in a neat row like diligent soldiers. If you have time for organization, you alphabetize them. If you care enough, you prioritize them.


Some things must be taken from one year to the next. That jagged vocabulary on your body from every fall and attempt at leaving. Your roots (coming out of scalp and family tree). The pain from broken relationship. The mourning of lost friend or family member. Your crooked teeth (unless you have dental insurance and a low pain tolerance?) Your moodiness and sex drive. Your overworked schedule. Your lactose-intolerance. Your sense of humor. Your cracked heels.

Perhaps this is the year you let go of habits: biting on nails, midnight binges of food or cocaine, falling in love too easily, promiscuity, loneliness, and _____________.

Perhaps this is the year you meet that soulmate. And you are going to be stunned because they look nothing like the ones before. And this may make you nervous; use those shakes as an instrument to drive you further in.

Perhaps this is the year you grow closer to the language of your body. You may make some changes. You may get some stares and questions. But how marvelous to live all these years strangled by question marks and now to replace them with a new punctuation mark.

Perhaps this is the year you further your education through formal classroom settings or self-diagnosed syllabus of specified materials.

Perhaps this is the year you birth or make a baby. Or unplug from all your gadgets. Or cut all your hair off. Or get something else removed.

Perhaps this is the year you finally use your passport again. Or go camping in woods many miles from your own. Or taste something new like fenugreek or lipstick.

You’ve got some weeks to figure all this out. And you’ve got time after that as well. Nothing needs to be permanent. We aren’t, so why should our resolutions be.

wound collector

We met on a heatwave where our freckles floated right off of our bodies and it took several blocks before we could find a sturdy bench to house all of our moistened, loose skin. She asked me questions like: when was the first time and how long before the last and what feelings did it release in me and how does it feel when people touch them or ask about why they exist.

I rested each arm– one at a time — against the cold, soiled concrete ledge. She wanted to know about my tattoos and loved the way that they appeared like sliced-up stories on my flesh. She kept apologizing for her camera. I told her that I no longer apologize on behalf of my bones, so she shouldn’t have to pardon the plastic used to point and click me into focus.

All of these things are how they are supposed to be, I said.

She photographed my creases. The places on my forearms and wrists where I tried to disconnect. I was going to mention my hips to her, but they were so quiet, I forgot all about them. While I remained still, the mosquitoes took advantage of my sugared sweat. I watched welts pop up like internalized kernels, which began to itch my skin into a new color.

We stopped calling this summer a week ago, I screamed out to the slender flies. These scars are mine; they are not meals, only poems now. 

This was the second time today I converted my scars into sentences.

Before we parted, we hugged and I wonder how much scars weigh and which one of us is heavier. She told me the color of my red is so beautiful and suits me. I wanted to tell her the aroma of her history moved me in a way that would drip into many poems to come.

another way to describe it

We are made from salt and this ocean that shakes the warmth from my toes is waved and briny. There is so much to stare at when the Atlantic is just steps away and yet what I find myself noticing are the bodies. They are tanned and leathery and flat and fat and thick. They are bikini’d and shirtless and covered and sandy. I cannot help but stare at a woman with an extremely small waist and wide hips jutting out of her body like two fleshy waterfalls. Her bathing suit is small and everything is left out to be noticed…so I notice.

I recognize that I am covered. Jean shorts with sand already wedged in each pocket and my black sports bra is beneath thin black tank top and part of me wants to take my shirt off and be completely bare like the tanned male lifeguard and part of me wants a body so blurry, no one could ever tell what I should be wearing.

Old women in sun hats and cellulite are so beautiful in their aged skin because they do not need to flaunt evidence of a gym membership. They are loose and lusty.

Man in tiny bathing suit, which barely covers what is required to be covered, walks around with cigarette weaved between two fingers. I watch his cheeks collapse with each heavy inhale. He is hairy everywhere but on his head.

When I am in the water, I lift my arms and like the sodium-drenched air sticking to my underarm hair. I feel the crushed shells beneath my cracked heels. Seaweed fondles my calves. I jump waves and make eye contact with the sun as it attempts to burn more freckles into my skin.

This island gets crowded as the afternoon settles in. I sit on a borrowed blanket with my dad and nephew as we eat homemade lunch. Bites are occasionally interrupted by shards of sand and I like the way this beach tastes.

At some point, I remove my shirt. I am not bikini’d; I do not own a bathing suit. My sports bra flattens what I do not want to call attention to. I am neither fit nor fat; my body just exists as a canvas of scars and tattoos, which is its own language of poetics.

Here, we can lay out or jump waves and be free without fear of excess or imperfections. On this island, we are New York City because we are the spectrum of so many. Even if I do not see another body that looks like mine, am here and am representing this form.

Maybe someone else is noticing my differences, which allows them to celebrate their own.