"When you realize… that there’s nothing to realize—
That it’s all just here,
then what are you going to do?"
When you want to fall — fall.
Evaporate and condensate,
but when you rain, come down
as a fucking hurricane.
If the birds stop chirping, if the sunlight forgets
you, if you’ve got your shirttail caught in the fence
of your spine, and you have no way of getting
remember that I am here, that I will bail you out of
your own prison, that I will lay with you the morning after
you fall in love and tell you that it’s okay to love,
that it’s okay to trust another human being
with more than you knew you could.
I will tell you how I held you as a child, listened
to your heartbeat on those sleepless nights, that I
loved your small body and your pebble fists and blessed
the skeleton inside of you —
that you are not beautiful because
a boy tells you so, but beautiful because
And I apologize for giving you such nervous hands and
a sine wave heartbeat. And when you start putting question marks
after everything you say — know that
I may not always have the answers, but
together, we can try to make sense
of it all.
I’ll take you back to my West Virginia. My Gloucester. My
honeysuckles and tool sheds. The chicken coops. The abandoned
loves. I’ll show you what the August grass feels like. I’ll
distract you with tree roots, with atlases, with lessons about the
sea, and until your question marks are bent into
arrows, I will not
stop. So shoot them blindly. Hurt and be hurt. Be the bird
as much as you are the hand.
For I will stand behind you, breaking every vow that I made
to protect you. When I notice your wings are peeking out
from beneath your shirt collar, I’ll
tie my hands back from clipping them. I will hide every rope
in the country so that the love inside of me doesn’t
tether your ankles to home.
You are seventeen, and you are free.
But when you want to come home, I’ll be here.
In the wind chimes, in the small moths that flutter
towards your light, in the way dawn still breaks the same
blue eggs in every place that you decide to
I’ll be here.
Less a ghost than the wind.
Less the wind than a soft hum in the back of your
throat, telling you that it’s okay to sing, that it’s
okay to bray,
that your song is a song that you’ll spend
the rest of your life trying to understand.
That when the birds talk you into flying south, it’s okay
to pick up