No Such Thing as Away
My ex-husband remarried within a year.
For him love meant trust-falling backwards
into his beloved’s arms. For me it meant leaping
hand-in hand face-forward off a cliff into the sea.
I kept dropping him, thinking he wanted
to swim. He kept breaking my leap,
thinking I wanted to be caught.
Some days the skins I’ve shed
call to me from the darkness
where they writhe like dug-up worms.
No such thing as away on this circled earth.
"Why love what you will lose?
There is nothing else to love."
I am tumbled sea-glass. I am a footprint
at the water’s edge. I am the erasing
wave. I am a collage of broken shells.
I am dunes in a high wind. I am the wind.
Born with a half-rolled map for skin
and a museum for a heart,
I thought I got to the end, but found
a door and kept going. Each wall,
a window with a broken lock.
My heart is made of water.
My heart dances to salsa by itself.
My heart curls like a book left out
in the rain. My heart lies
on the bridge at night to watch
the stars. My heart forgets
to make the bed. My heart
built its nest on a cracked branch.
Standing in the water, toes wedged
between rocks, body swaying, I cry.
My paltry contribution of salt.
I swim under the full moon at high tide,
clatter of beach stones rolled by waves.
Some days my mind is like
a gull hanging onto
a sandwich too big
to swallow, beak clamped
on the monstrous bite
as it runs from other gulls
so as not to share.
Maybe we make our own luck.
My mouth is an empty birdcage, a tunnel
of hunger. My mouth does its own
dirty work. My mouth has a hard time
wrapping itself around No. My mouth
is a repository for memory. My mouth can
take down your mouth. It makes its own
weather. My mouth is a cave of joy.
*Couplet from the poem "From the Japanese" by Louise Gluck.
As a Relationship Alchemist and TEDx Speaker, Marie-Elizabeth Mali shows individuals and couples how to deepen love and connection in their relationships. Drawing on her Master’s degree in Chinese Medicine and over 20 years of client work, she teaches people how to be authentic instead of shrinking themselves to fit in. She also has an MFA in poetry from Sarah Lawrence College and is the author of one book of poetry, Steady, My Gaze (Tebot Bach, 2011) and co-editor with Annie Finch of the anthology, Villanelles (Everyman's Library Pocket Poets, 2012). Her relationship work has been featured in Thrive Global, SWAAY, and Forbes and her poems have appeared in Poet Lore, RATTLE, and Tiferet.