That woman is me

The woman sat flaccid-bottomed on bath lip
squash of emotions beneath sturdy hips
pieces of her, no-one ever sees
water on full, hitting porcelain as drums beaten to recall
steam filling small room, obscuring
her grave emptying breasts as they urge to droop lower in hour
whisper of a nipple, against empty arms
when was the last time? She felt hands on her
lifting drummed grief within, recoiling of sadness for
blur and smooth music of touch?
Is she still a woman able to appeal?
or become the damp drying of paper walls
pealing and perishing with carved silence
and who would caress the broken parts of her
with equal ardor? Not minding
how her stomach rounded and slid
slightly sideways in its phantom gelatin mold
where the folds of her neck roosted
her opening legs a trust, erased
for she holds within herself an
eternity of scolds and loose threads
disliking the belch of flesh around her thighs
or the downward pull of stretched skin
marking its silver lines across her
like marauding seafarers
she is told she is beautiful
by those who over-use the word and
glut on dispelling fears like caged witches given
their freedom
but in her heart of hearts
where rosy trace of girlhood is long swept and vanquished
and mirrors are to be run past and shunned
the puckering of her forehead, and thin skinned clavical
knows the real scales of her drying self-hood curling inward
in its invariable regret
she is not the smooth melatonin
goddess of her dreams nor even young enough to stop
another heart with any part of her
physic movement or grace
yet she possesses still
a smile, pulled from depths, capable of
illuminating others darkness
and when she is not
angered by slouch of age and
hours spent hunched over making
worlds with words
withering in slow motion on the vine
of her choices and that stayed
moment she quit opening for sunlight
she remembers the fleet-footed
girl of yesterday, taken in the arms of those
who would give her ease from solitude
in their reverence of her youth
though, it is not now, now she is alone
the bath filling high and her wish
to step into hot water and be absorbed by fantasy
to be touched again in feelings now stored away
only taken out briefly when facing herself and
the strange quality of her diminishing reflection
a voice within
rarely permitted to verbalize
the absence and loneliness of her skin
for if it could speak
surely those words would, catch the damp of her
ardor and unsaid want and cry out
oh just once more! Let me feel the rounding
desire we take for granted in youth
a touch through time, relieving ache
of years spent sleeping, back to the wall
hands beneath pillows, unwanted in disappearing skin
the burning of such need
a fire beneath closed eyes
seeking refuge in other worlds
where you are as you were
and have always been
devoured by your passion
the feeling of you inside, reminding us both
of life abundant
without loathing nor reducing
that woman
reaching out
is me

It’s all I know to do – Candice Louisa Daquin

Silent men are often admired

for their ability to endure quietly without complaint

whilst women who speak out are many times, vilified

behind their backs described as;

“that obnoxious woman who talked too much”

I lived with a silent man most of my life

he stared out of windows and when people died, his lips did not part

later on I realized it was a form of cowardice, not strength

later on, I saw how when good people say and do nothing

everything is fractured

if tomorrow I died, the people I have most admired

spoke out against tyranny and oppression

they even shared a confession or two

if they were female they were oft lampooned

if they were male they became more popular

because everyone loves a male sharer

this world is not kind to its daughters

its daughters are not kind to their sisters

it isn’t a gender battle but if it were

we have lost as we take on more, for less and less

sometimes I wonder if we had greater freedom

when our shackles were tighter

this is true of gays too, I can’t find within their collective

anything to be part of anymore

the world has grown strange and with it, myself

I heard on PBS yesterday half the world has been born

after the year of my birth, I am becoming less relevant

I could have told them I knew this already

by the way boys glances grow dimmer and there are no girls to love

for girls hesitate when you show them your heart

theirs is an unsure game of glancing round corners for prince charming

even as you stand proffering a depth they’d delight in

if they’d but give you a chance …

how ironic a man would make better match

yet you couldn’t stand, all that maleness

if I could become a creature instead of a human

I’d be a wolf

run with night pack, my loneliness obscured by trees and fur

if I could turn into a sea creature, plummet into water

or rise like a bird until clouds swallowed my shadow

for what succor is reason and what comfort, words?

when the world is a caustic, sharpened perpetual blade

and friends want friends who don’t resemble you

things you used to like, are lost in the figuring out, of how to get through

I used to fake it better and could wear a push-up bra for 12 hours without scratching

now all the edges are blurred, you left me in the fog to see my own way home

a place I no longer know, it has photos, but no key to open

I do not belong in my own picture frame

it’s been so long since I recognized an absence of pain

we used to laugh until our sides ached

sitting by the river watching the tanned folk preen and shake

their expensive personas

I liked the muddy waters best and all the out-of-the-way bars without names

I liked being nobody special and yet, I knew myself in a way I haven’t since

they took anonymity and gave it a new toll highway

when it’s my birthday save a slice for me, I’m not yet back to eating

I haven’t been made love to by someone who wanted to, in years

there’s emptiness behind the storage of sin and loose bolts, where you tried to squeeze in

I see your outline like a defeated smoke signal

we walk out to the table of earth, above the world

where you say you own nothing and have it all

my heart is heavy for all the suffering, that’s why I speak, even as you

stay silent on your boat, watching for ripples in the surface

I am beneath water, pushing air and words upward

it’s all I know to do

the curse of the confessional poet, hot whispered glares of disapproval

as they tut and turn away, their pigeon necks, bent and cooing

“she’s putting it all out there, for shame”

and you know what I think?

I think the shame is you

When never is not forever – Candice Louisa Daquin

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The year is

somewhere back when

kissing in public would have

resulted in a shaming

it was not our shame

but we carried it high on our cheeks as if it were

the taunt of “lesbian bitches” like sharpened nails

prodding us to flee

and where could we run?

not your closed-minded house, nor mine

we had only the rugged country and its tilled earth

burning with our polished want

you told me, it was too hard

when you love, that’s what you eventually learn

to let go, if the pain is tormenting her

and I watched you

stumbling down the hill-side in your badly fitting rubber boots

tears obscuring your view

the purse I gave you, a mash of wool against your side

still I thought of chasing after your vanishing

but what would I say? What could I

a girl of mended pockets and thin chest of pennies

offer?

I thought of your heart-shaped face

the way the curls of your hair were blown straight

by fierce winds and the seeming condemnation

of nature

as if the spirits holding back the ice

threatened their eventual punishing

was it so? did something that felt so right really

reside in sin? and if this why was I given a

mismatched heart

latched to yours and never

the acrid stink of boys?

You, with your gentle malt brown eyes

and bitten nails rubbed raw, the way your knees

poked out of your tights like sharp stones

how your narrow shoulders threw back

the weight of sorrow as

you tried to make sense of things

broken and too heavy for either of us, even together

to move.

I lay in my singleton bed, tucked in by

the enduring chill of night and your jagged absence

pounding like a boulder on my chest

and if there had been a way to

take you away and build tree houses against

all who said

they’re going through a phase

if we separate them long enough

they are bound to find a good local boy

in time in time

oh love, my love, there is not enough time in this

short stacked life, or turn around empty stage

all its broken shells and lost moments curled

in the death of one season to the next

there is not enough power in the

minds of men and frowning adults

to leach this swollen sea from my lips

have your face vanquished along with it

no time can separate those who fate

decrees are bound

no condemnation is loud enough.

I let you go, an unfurled pain through aubergine fields

watching blurred from tears until you are beyond my gaze

even then rooted to the spot as it grew colder

you stood with me, wet cheeked, red with

high wind, the words caught from our mouths

blown like autumn around our woolen ankles

savage and whipping

the crack of old trees as they bend

unwilling and stiff

in the deluge of our hopelessness

I feel still the circle our fingers

made shared in one pocket for warmth and

how your lips tasted like cough drops and mine

or the warmth of your skin on my mouth

a scold from the whole world

who used ugliness to describe

what was always only ever beautiful

the catch of green in your iris, as if a spring shoot had said

I will grow despite the cold

and I could do nothing but let you absail away

our tether a kite, torn by tree branches

still in subsequent years, standing on the hill I saw

the string of us persisting long past its clossure

they said;  it will only take a season

perhaps a year at most

young hearts mend fastest

where did they learn that nonsense?

I grew beyond their chipped confines

you married a local boy, who gave you babies and hearth

without the fire

without the shared, reach of us

and my beckoning on our mountain

as we liked to think it was

when we were wild girls chasing each others burning flame

you smiled when you saw me again

many years hence; still the same full lips and high cheeks

like someone had thought carefully when

they carved you out of hill sides and left their grace in your shape

a woman now, of grown years in straight lines

you look up as I walk in, the chime of the door

wet shoes, dripping umbrella, badly fitting skirt

I can hardly hear the first words just your sound

my throat is closing, my cheeks flaming

our fingers touch beneath table-cloth

as if it were not the future

but that thursday atop the world

your buckled shoes scuffed by our climb

my breathless devour of the last moments

ticking down before

you turn

turn away and descend

into the world that says no to girls

I see fine lines against your eyes, the gentle curves of motherhood

you are wearing rings on all your fingers

and someone has released you from your bond

in the future you are free to ask me

meet at the coffee shop on the corner at ten

and the part of me who waited

watching the summit and our fall

and the part of me who stayed behind

seeing you go into the fog, become no more

and the part of me who knew

we’d return to each other like

coal is made in darkness and so are diamonds

where the taste of sudden storms and electricity

play on your neck and a rising blush

is a sunset in lost time

I saw us then, grown and still smiling

despite the savage world and its rules

you can try to take what is not yours to claim

I tell my enemies and the crows

as starlight falls on the empty shapes of our descent

we will in some hour, somewhere

hear again the beat of one another’s heart

steady and determined, despite the years apart

pull us close against like a final stitch

for I am hers and she is mine

washing over the heather and bracken

like light rain compels rainbows from

grey reluctant skies marbling

her hands in mine, the feeling of dissolving

for some are destined, no matter

will is won over, when never is not forever

and a promise stays growing

beneath fecund earth