Blackbirdan online journal of literature and the artsSpring 2017  Vol. 16 No. 1
an online journal of literature and the arts
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I can’t breathe. If I were honest
I’d admit to the under-my-skin damp
called loneliness, called fear.
If courageous, I’d swallow hard
and say to fear, “Come sit right down—
be fear at the head of the table.”
And serve fine wine, cheese and bread,
tomatoes so dead ripe their warm
earthy scent fills the air the way
honeysuckle suckles the night.
I’d confess to the itch of expectation,
the itch of attachment; I’d display
the bruises on my arms—proof
of my struggles. As if fear, in his crisp
white shirt and black Tevas,
could be impressed by fearlessness,
perseverance, compassion, or skill.
Fear knows all about evasion.
So I confess it. I say it aloud:
I’m afraid.
Without further word,
looking fear straight in the eye,
I begin to take off my clothes.
I know, I know, it surprises me, too.
But a stir of wind blows through
the open windows,
and I hear the tree frogs loudly
tweeting their coded messages for sex.
I begin to breathe.
Fear, purely sensed, takes a mere
ninety seconds to crest
and fall away (this is a fact)—
lingering only when one feeds it
the custard of stories and lies.
Oh, how fear then flexes his muscles!
But say we
lean into each other,
dear fear. Let’s be groundless,
curious lovers. Let’s be Quakers
and clouds. Let’s stay present
to the steamy pour of the shower,
to the curve of the soap on skin.
Let’s melt into this feeling—fear
in my knees, in my spine. Fear
between my breasts. Fear nesting
in my armpits, fear slippery on the soles
of my feet. Dear fear, let’s give
a good soaping to your cock and to my
well you get the idea. We’re soaping
a doorway through uncertainty
to freedom. As we soap, behind us
vast space and light open up.
There, there, my darling. Let me
take care of you. More
sandalwood scent? A good hard
rub to the scalp? Relax. We’ll rinse
and watch the suds bubble down the drain.
You can trust me. You can trust me. Just let go.  

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