100 Words for 100 Days

Day 80: Mine

I like my body when it walks in the backyard.
I like my body when it stands next to its daughter, who is taller than it.
I like my body when it gets tattooed or pierced.
I like my body when it grows hair on its legs.
I like my body when heat blooms in its chest.
I like my body when it has orgasms.
I like my body when it hears music.
I like my body when it is resting, sleeping, dreaming, waking.
I like my body when its mouth waters.
I like my body when its mouth speaks.

Day 79: Round

There is a woman in my yoga class
Who some might say is too old for tank tops.
Her silver hair, a cloud of jasmine, springs from her forehead
Rebellious and shining.
(I’ve never seen someone so beautiful.)
I can just imagine what that raven crown,
A shock of strict and serious black,
Must have looked like at forty, at twenty-seven, at twelve.
(How is someone so beautiful here?)
Her body responds, breathes, folds over,
Bends, becomes round, luminous, and transforms
Into a pillar topped by a waterfall,
Torso spilling over ground.
(You’re the most beautiful person I’ve ever seen.)

Day 78: Best Man

What the best man is supposed to do: Make sure the groom shows up, sober and on time. Keep track of the rings. Make sure the groomsmen are ready, dressed, and behaving.

What the best man is absolutely not supposed to do: Mess up the groom’s tie just so he can straighten it again. Adjust the groom’s pocket square so he can rest his hand on the groom’s chest. Definitely not supposed to stare into the groom’s eyes, whisper in his ear, cling too long in one last hug.

Fuck.

Inside my pocket, I slip the ring on my finger.

Day 77: Milano

Italy was filled with new old things.

I had strange money in my pocket; words made of arching syllables and round vowels were being spoken in my voice. The square was made of stainless steel and cobblestone. We had wine with our working lunches in the cafeteria.

I felt like an explorer.

There was so much I didn’t know. Like how you were supposed to carry your passport everywhere. Like how you shouldn’t use large bills. Like how not to let the boss, an ancient and ailing man, get too close.

I never told anyone. And I never went back.

Day 76: Recipe for Balancing the Fourth Chakra (Heart)

Bury the cigarettes in the junk drawer,
Or better yet, in the yard behind the tool shed.
Lift the chest, spread the collarbones,
Fill the ribs and let them shine, no longer invisible.
Take a glass of warm milk before bed.
Define the usurper, the pirate, the impostor.
Let their names flow out of your bloodstream,
Through your fingers, and onto the page.
Set that on fire.
Roll the wrists, circle the pulse, and
Whittle down it’s secret drum.
Do not be alone.
Pretend it’s your birthday, and blow a green wish
Into a balloon tied with your grandmother’s yarn.


Day 75: Girl

Rana is a tiny, blond eight-year-old with persistently bruised knees and a lisp. After church, we sat in a Sunday school classroom coloring cardboard Easter eggs with markers. We talked about her favorite book, how unfair it was that her brother went to the dinosaur museum, and what she wished she could have for supper.

“Ice cream!” she shouted.

A murky memory surfaced of myself at her age, lighting our gas oven with a wooden match.

I studied her hands with their fragile fingers streaked with Spring colors, thinking: give her all the markers. All the museums. All the sweets.

Day 74: Coffee

Chris walks out of the convenience store toward the truck with a coffee in each hand. I’m tired (hungover, if you must know), but there’s something about his walk, his denim-clad thighs, his steel-toed boots that wakes me right up.

It’s just easier to carpool to the job site, I’d told him, and he’d agreed.

I push the passenger door open from the inside, and he steps up and in, a freshly showered, woodsy smell wafting in with him. Goddamn.

“Morning,” he says, as our fingers touch briefly around my cup.

We sit, sipping. The air between us hums.

“Morning.”

Day 73: Shipwreck

It took me fifty years to realize we’d wrecked.
I should’ve known by the sound of the waves,
By the splintered bow, the fractured mast,
By the shore’s angry undertow.
I broke the window so we’d have a knife.
I tied the rope so we’d have a lead.
I gathered scraps of sail to sew
With a fishhook needle and tendon thread.
I walked a line in the sand
While the birds cracked shells
And picked at the soft tissues inside.
They caw their half-century song,
A hymn we can’t agree on.
Where you hear praise,
I hear only mourning.

Day 72: Secret

My family began a “Things We Are Grateful For!” list, and stuck it to the refrigerator. We add to it anything we wish, without judgment or questions.

The entries are what you’d expect: our (now deceased) dog, the friendly woman, Valerie, who works at Taco Bell, cream horns from Stan’s Bakery, and the authors who’ve written our favorite books.

I’ve got my own gratitude list that I won’t hang up. On it is solitude. Sleeping alone. Single-serve wine bottles in a handy carrying case. On it is kissing. Singing harmony to the radio. My body, though changing, still feels bliss.

Day 71: Horse

“Yeah? Fuck you too, Erika.” I spin, heading for the door on wobbly legs.

“What’s his problem?” Someone asks, but music drowns out any replies.

The backyard is crowded, with everyone dancing and drinking around the pool. For fucks sake. I grab another beer and push through, leaving the noise behind.

Dribble, dribble, clang, bounce. Dribble, dribble, clang, bounce.

Alone in the driveway is—shit, that’s Matt Fowler. Basketball phenom, full ride to Iowa, three years ahead of me. I take a second to stare. Everyone crushed on Matt Fowler. Including me.

“Hey,” he calls between dribbles. “Want to play?”