06/28/2019 – Rainelle

I woke today in a yurt 
with a bee in my bed.

Curious, I snatched him up assuming lint 
or thread 
or something soft and innocuous.
He moved and I placed him on the pillow next to my head.

I snatched the quintessential symbol of childhood terror 
between thumb and forefinger

Intimate and safe we shared my pillow in the hills of West Virginia
As I prepared to visit my father's grave
As I nursed my hangover
As I treasured my solitude and wished, more than anything, for a friend.
I call him Carl.

How long have I dusted around fear?  
(and what silhouettes are awaiting my courage)
How long have I left this pain untouched, 
afraid of its uncurling in my mind
afraid of the space it would take
of the Heather it would consume
of the Heather it would leave behind.

Today I am curious and picked Carl up to look more closely.
Today is, apparently, the day I examine fear.
Perhaps today is the day I give it, too, a name.


This isn’t poetry, but it’s part of the journey I began with 2019 Napowrimo and exploring my relationship with my dad.

I’m leaving soon on a pilgrimage, three days traveling alone to sit at his grave and read my poems and mark a moment of closure? maybe?

It’s an attempt and I am, right now, terrified it will fail.  Terrified that I won’t have the strength to really look into the dark of this.  Terrified that I will liquor up on whiskey and suffering and shut down.  Terrified that it will all be for nothing.  And it occurs to me that even if it is for nothing, I’ll just do it again and again and again until either it becomes less important or more healing.

Slow is smooth and smooth is fast.  One bit at a time, one moment and one breath and one tear.


There’s a portion of him I want to keep
tucked in a pocket, warm and safe and secure.
Tears dried and hurts soothed.

There’s a portion of him I want to keep
in the palm of my hand, twitching and sighing.
Smiles and astonishment.

There’s the esplanade and the bluegrass
the summer rain and the dragonfly
the national treasures I didn’t know about
and The Dance that I am meant to paint.
There’s the rejection and the hurt
the confusion and the frustration
the feeling disposable.

the sound of his voice.

I can’t keep a portion
He is not a chicken to be quartered
the white meat discarded for the far superior dark
He is the whole bird
more than my plate can hold

and I miss him.


a small distance
scented with sage and sandalwood

a soft silence begging for a reach
for a touch 
for the right angle
for the perfect moment 
when he won't derail
when he won't run
when he won't reject
when he will let me have what I want
and be unafraid
and be bold

'let me have what I want' is not the makings of care
is not the root of the tenderness I feel for him

it is the byproduct of my smallness
the Vegemite of my creation
salty and bitter and hateful
and wanting
and greedy
and powerful

I reroute disappointment, reset tracks 
a figure eight of self loathing that ensures he won't be hurt by me
while I eat myself from the inside out
wondering why
chewing and swallowing my pale skin
my stretch marks
my too loud laugh
my never feeling quite good enough
my ignorance
my endless questions
my lack of experience
my vulnerability

He is something to me
something powerful
something important

I will find a way to care about him and not hurt
to reach for him with a closed hand
to not want from him
to not take
to not harm
to listen until his truths become louder
than the sound of my chewing


I’m finished with this project for now.

In some ways it feels like I did what I set out to do.  I looked at those experiences closely and lived them more thoroughly than I had previously and most certainly felt them more honestly than I was capable of at the time … and I let him in, even if only a few times and they were awkward and difficult but that will get easier.

I have started something and I think now it’s time for me to let it sit on it’s own for a moment.  Some recovery is needed before I can come back to this.  I feel like continuing would just be creating hurt for myself and that’s not at all what I want to do.

No, I did not make it until the end of April and I have feelings about that, but I have done so much more than I’d ever even considered before and I have learned so much and seen so much and felt so much these past few weeks … I need to stop now.  But I’ll be back, to revise and revisit and hone.


the blooming season
new growth soothes hot skin
sweating aching under the labor of change
longing to recline into certainty
that the earth turns

that I have done well
that I can rest
that I am not too late
fearing I've missed something
am missing something
am hurting someone
am not doing enough
have done too much
have said too much
am not enough
am too much

what will they grow into
what have I done
when can I stop

I want this to be tidy and finished
I want to lean on someone and feel safe being unsure

today, I miss the silent dead of December
today isn't an adventure

and all my fault
I started everything


slowly twisting history I play
measuring compassion and fear by the moment
I move in pilgrimage toward freedom

a spectacle of failing fathers 
lining the street as I pass
heavy and plodding and never-ending

wondrous, the legends of men who have stayed
I marvel at the ease with which legendary men are made

I ask each
what pain is it that let you run?

what did it take for you to believe that 
drinking yourself to death
killing your wife
abandoning your children
was your best option
was your only option
was an option?

a parade of Heather moves forward
their faces turn away as I pass
soft and fierce and never-ending

what strength is it that lets me stay?
what love is it that brings me here?