I am delicate. This tough guise
comes along with the collared shirts –
briefs – jackets in mud puddles –
but it is only a performance.

Do not mistake it for the same gauge
of pressure it takes to bruise
the skin of my heart. Purple

gives way to red gives way to pink.
Even the strong language I take in
too deep because I have no wall up
between me and you. I have no wall

up but you can’t tell how transparent
I am when I have cried, when I have
asked a question, turned a door handle

so you did not have to. I want to take
care of you. I want to take care of
myself, so invisibly that you won’t notice,
then take care of you. But that is not

realistic. I know. I am sensitive,
affected by all the madness marching
around me. I cannot get away from it

some days. Some days I am eaten alive
by the bees in the hive, some days I am
the hive through which everything flows.
I carry around words like brutal and

punished in a notebook and touch the
letters when I need a reminder of
the damage that can be done, can not

be undone. Phrases yielded like
knives. I refuse to use my words
as weapons, though I could, I could
cause hurt, could leave scars. Instead

I choose to swallow, don’t let it out,
don’t let things go, there is no way
to know what the words will become

once they leave my tongue. Possibly
dandelions, possibly stinging nettles,
possibly a poisonous cup of hemlock.
I drink it all down myself instead:

then there can be no misinterpretation.

Ginkgo Biloba

The first time I kiss her, it is
June. Under a hazy lazy sky
the sun is yawning its descent.
Under the ginko tree that grows,

has been growing, outside her
apartment for decades, a hundred
years, more. How many lovers’
first kisses has she seen,
how many breakups, how many babies

pappoosed, welcomed to the world?
Green paper leaves the shape
of fans tossing the wild to the wind,
winding strings of silkworms around

tree trunks, slick bark the shade of
the sky before it rains. And her eyes
are the sky after. The pavement after.
My heart is red construction paper
that could blow away with another

exhale, if only her lips would come
close enough. Closer.