deep mint antidote

in the dream i was
asked to look
after the place
two houses down from
the lime-wedge windows
only this place
was in the golden hill neighborhood of  san diego
or somewhere southern california-ish
not in northeast portland
dark woodwork and
something 80’s about the interior
i wanted to move the beds near the windows
i wanted to take out the screens
i only needed the tiny bedroom
but instead there was the tiny bedroom with cubbyholes
and an east facing window
(imagining the square of sunrise
moving across my half-slept self)
plus a gigantic bedroom
just off the kitchen
in the gigantic room
a couple hooked up
to a breathing machine
due to the recently discovered
huge amounts of radon
(that’s what you get
when you don’t know what you’re moving into)
plus some construction out the window
lane filled with safety-orange cones
circled in reflective bands

first alyssa tells the story
about how the moon laughed when the elephant
whose belly was stuffed with sweets
fell off the mouse who was giving him
a lift home
how when the moon laughed
the elephant banished it
so there was only sun
drought
death
for an entire year
and when the elephant
allowed the moon back
he said it can only be full once a month
hence the wax/wane cycle
the light balanced by dark
the duality
and when alyssa asks us to pick an intention for the day
she tells us to honor/recognize/embrace
something from our darkness
and it is only from this angle
do i find the self-forgiveness
spend the next 50 minutes
stretching into it

when i laugh about how
someone would call a 36 year old (me)
and thirty-year old (you)
woman a girl
you say something about my attire
something about  stripes
and petiteness
to which we laugh
all the way down texas st.

and then there was the part where i
hated poems all day
or at least the ones i’m handing in
which aren’t really working
i mean
i work at them but
they are not really
well-functioning
or properly fraying
and although this is the poetry crisis i signed up for

regarding invisibility
i joke across the study table
i’m glad my suffering was helpful for you

i would hug you
but i’ll high-five you instead
leaning half in her truck
liz r. and i big-mouth laugh
at the awkwardness of something like
messing up on a cheek kiss

for fear that the chamomile
wrapped us in its sleep spell
i offer
a fresh sprig deep mint antidote

and then
the poem
that is
partly failing:

is the history before history

when different people know the same body
of water by
varying names how do we
(roads rivers states)

first i give the voice
a body by saying i
then dig into my matrilineal side

          apparition: her/my/our body bent over turned earth
          how wind carries dust
          strands pulled from headscarf
          rippling skirts
          all of the fabric is cotton or burlap

far back
do we have
how to stand
see the (w)hole

          the way to deal
          is to sideswipe it without ever
          mentioning
          (rhymes with swallow-tossed)

 a poem becomes a building, a neighborhood an entire city

          call the carpathians
          a spine
          mention a river only by saying
          that it was
          mention a river by saying that there were
          once fish now there are none

the museums, pamphlets, libraries
say about the place(s) of your origins

          if my mother was raped
          before we met
          i will not be told of it

          if my father sought the services
          of sex workers in vietnam,
          well…

the unguided tour
what we freeway over
sites of

          looping
          memory as train
          someone else’s muscle drove
          those rail spikes in

a deeper document
(trees waterways stones)

                                            we inherit