Falling by Kiernan Norman

The past few weeks have been mounted in hot pink and mahogany.
Hot breath, sticky and drooling,
fogs up the glass and
I resist the urge to
outline my name in a one-finger, window-fade, Arabic script–
I can’t keep my giddy heat
and roasting hands to myself.

My thoughts pirouette a coconut,
slippery-sweet meld of dazed concentration while I leprechaun-leap over cool evening sidewalks
and tip-toe in stairwells for that
last fevered kiss
as the heavy door
crashes shut and we’re still alone.

The hole in my boot sole
grows with each step;
I feel the full magnitude of
each drying leaf as I go forth and pulverize.
I don’t think I can help it-
The leaves fall and the fall
falls and I might be falling.

These days have been oil paint
thick and layered inches high
on expensive canvas, on the
cardboard I’ve plucked from the
dumpster at work.
The smell of thin trees
and bright fields;
combing out and
rinsing off
and tucking
themselves in for winter naps,
cradle the breeze and
bellow a
proud conquest with its sweet,
smoky hum.

My own long, dark,
hair is lured up and around by grinning wind.
Earth waltzes with the bits of me I’ve let grow.
Hair is dead, right?
(and the longer the deader.)
In my long, soft, dead parts I am waving free–
finally free and laughing.

I’m laughing because nothing is tangled,
nothing stings yet.
I’m laughing because if–
When,
this ride crashes
I can’t imagine how I’ll
survive the wreck.

Because I’m caught on the details–
the tiny everythings that get me.
The little choices made
(but so sweet-muted,
they’re not printed in the script).
They are dull-pencil scribbled in later
by an actor who’s fading fast into
a calmy, balmy, dreamless sleep.

Still, they’re the bloom-blushing afterthoughts that catch me
off guard and whip my guts up,
warm and oozing.
They stick in my throat horizontally, clawing and breached.

I acknowledge them softly
and play like this easy
kindness is not
completely foreign to me.
I’m carefully absorbing.
I’m mutely blinking back
slow-welling eyes
because this feeling of unworthy
coiled deep in my bones
is too rooted, too tangled,
too stutter seep quaking
through my marrow
to just shake off.

But I am trying.
I’m quietly,
radically,
hiking a mountain to
meet him halfway–
desperately hoping he won’t spook.

I’m dizzied and melting to the throwaway habits I’m
beginning to crave.
How his fingers pray the rosary
on each bead of
my cracking knuckles.
How he kisses my head when I’m looking at my phone and thinks I don’t notice.
How lately, the sleepy way
I let my posture disintegrate into his body,
(a place that’s sun-stained and velvet–
a place that’s formed and transformed endlessly across decades and continents)
feels like graceful landing after so much turbulence.

I’ve met moments of calm locked in limbs and new security in the shapes my fingers find tangling with his.

Even glances can anchor me. A sip of his eyes–
eyes that have shown him so much of the world;
the bright corners and dirty streets,
the graveyards and parades,
the sidewalk saints and stumbling souls,
a world he knows can be beautiful and horrific
and both and neither all at once–
those glances manage to steady the sway
of my tangled body and droop-heavy soul.

And, okay, I don’t see poetry in
the way I swing myself up,
arm, leg, arm, leg,
into the front seat of his truck while
he closes the door behind me–
(my own faded muscles stopped atrophying
months before I could even remember his name,
but calves and obliques still recall the sensation
of ripping, pinching and splitting
like raw cotton in the presence
of heavy metals and four wheel drive.)

Still, there is something
almost too easy to weave
into words about the
smell of soap on his chest even
late at night and how there–
right there —
is a small island
to double over in laughter
or sigh your stress aloud.
With the tiny details
and subtle quirks I’m
shorthand jotting and jacket-pocket folding–
it’d be too easy
to fill a notebook.

And though I’m still treading lightly,
I think if you asked me
to describe the word ‘worth’
right now,
I’d probably tell you about the way
I can pull away, look up and smile during a kiss
and find his eyes already in mine,
smiling back.

 

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