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The Braid

C. Woodsmith


I remember when my father used to comb my hair

Until all the snarls easily

Slipped their knots.

Sometimes he would use an entire bottle of conditioner

While I sat in the tub, reveling in the attention of his rhythmic brushing.

When I was 4 he learned to French braid,

And from then on, every morning

He would comb and braid my hair.

As I started taking steps toward my own independence

I told him that I didn’t want the braid anymore.

I remember clearly the look on his face,

His daughter was growing older,

embarrassed that her father would still be the one

to braid her hair.

What I wouldn’t give for him,

to braid my hair again.

He couldn’t have known then,

And no one would have guessed

That it would so soon be me

To push back the fine hair from his brow,

past the scar on his skull,

to brush his hair as he slept.

My father,

a man changing back into a child

Living now only to love

The simplicity of

these last moments.




C. Woodsmith


The wind is howling and so is my heart,

only I can hear it.

Her grief beats against my bones,

rattling my consciousness with castanets placed upon her slender fingers.

When she wakes me every morning,

I see the remains He left behind:

Love lies deflated, draped upon a chair,

Pain fills empty bowls and cups that litter my room,

Loneliness flourishes in the pot beside my window.

There is nothing to do but rise then.

Make my bed, sweep the floor and wash the bowls.

Confront these pieces that linger so conspicuously

and with such strange tenderness.

Amongst them I do not find anger, confusion, hopelessness.

I know that this time I was meant to languish in Love’s aftermath.

It was my turn to learn the slow process

of healing.

The wound will close in time, perhaps not even leaving a scar.

My heart will stop rattling me awake every morning,

dancing her drunken steps to the beat of my emptiness.

The first tendrils of Hope will filter through my blinds

and I will open them,

to let the light in.


C. Woodsmith


Within these walls

Ten by ten

I drift in a raft of silence.

As if it were a bubble

where I can see out, without hearing the cyclical drift of noise.

Only the battering ram of the typewriter

Punctuates the minutes passing.

When I type my mind is silent,

and when I rest my mind once again sifts through endless combinations, analogies, rhymes.

And so I progress.

A constant ebb of silence within and without,

the chatter only stifled by my fingers

as they make their careful journey across the keys.


C. Woodsmith


I am so full of desire that my ribs creak when I breathe.

I feel cavernous like the belly of a great whale.

The match that Jonah lit would have revealed within me

stained glass monuments to your eyes,

chalices of melancholy wine

a boat drifting amidst the incense of madness

I am unspooling this thread

of shadow and light

I am casting the line of my euphoria

releasing it like notes from a cello

hoping you'll feel me softly

fluttering against you

an eyelash on tortured skin


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