salaam (n).

what can I do with all
of this heaviness and how
do I greet it except to
brush its hair, offer
what food is left, tell
it not to worry, it's not
keeping me up (even though
it is keeping me up), I will
stay awake and listen as long
as it takes to say it. 

I will put on the kettle and
wrap it in the blanket
I wrap around myself on
the days that I am not sure
even of the color of the sky. 

role (n).

I as a woman am
a life force. 
I as a woman am
capable of
spilling open and
speaking the truth.
As a woman I can
fight wild heart battles and
still find ways in which
the day was good. 
As a woman I know
when it is not
healthy touch or
safe touch and when
a man has taken liberties
as a man.
I as a woman am
an offering of faith
that my voice will
be listened to and
trusted. 

I as a woman I am told
I should hold it all in. 

brittle (adj).

hope is made of sand, the way
it slips through my fingers and also
sticks to the folds in my ears, it falls
from my hair for days after, it stays
dust on the floor, the grit, I feel it
on the bottoms of each foot, even
when you think it could no longer
still be here, it is. 

hope is made from glass, the way
it shatters just so, into a million
and more pieces, the way
something so beautiful can draw
stinging blood, the way it
cuts deep into the skin when you
didn't see its edge. hope is made of
glass the way it glistens
and hums when you run your finger
just so, and patiently, on its lip. 

hope is made of all of the delicate and
difficult things, like secrets and giving,
it is made of a baby's helplessness and
evening whispers between lovers, it is
made of the kind of light that
helps you make out an outline
and doubt your line of sight, it is
made of all of the things that
you can only offer up to the gods, 
hope is
all of the things that
are unbearable to think
of losing, and that's why
we can't give it up, this hope.  

altar (n).

I bring you my day's last thoughts
I bring you what was said and how I felt
I bring you all of the strangers I observed
I bring you each moment you would find
charming, or maddening, both I bring to you.

I bring you my day's last wonderings, like
what could happen next and where
we could go and why the world is
like it is and maybe also what
next I should attempt to cook. 

I bring you in the evening my body
I bring myself close to you, I bring you
my doubts and judgments of my soft build
I bring these with a gentle offering
to make safe the altar for you to also
bring your self, safely, to me. 

trench (n).

I promise if you
open your eyes and
turn to face the world
beauty will meet you, even
yes, in all of the pain, even
in all of the disappointment, even
in all of the people and their stories, even
in all of the ways it feels like tomorrow
could be the day the world ends, even
there.

I promise if you
open your eyes and
turn to face the world
I will slip my hand in yours
I will walk you slowly down
to the water where we all join
to greet the nightfall. 

offering (n).

To my mother, who always knows
the heavy days from the light ones
when to call, how to comfort -

to my mother, who always sees
humour as I do, and the best in all, 
what is important, what is true -

to my mother, who always feels
deeply into the river that runs through
her warrior heart, full of hope:

you are to me what makes the world
make sense.
You are to me all at once the force
that settles and sends me. 
You are to me all of the beautiful
and strong things. 

circadian (adj).

I will show you what rising looks like;
I have studied each morning when
I wake before the daytime,
when I wake, sometimes, before
friends near the pacific
have even said goodnight.

I have taken note and have seen
the way the light comes to us
in arch and swinging, on time and
without worry of filling too much space,
and so in this way I have learned to rise.

With the sun I rise in these ways:
hot to touch, blistering if not warned,
pouring in like I pour honey
heavy and golden
into this morning’s tea -

here I learned to rise,
heart full and heart swoon
gathering my lover’s hands in mine -
here, let me warm you -
I will fill our room with light
when all else feels too grim
to open wide our eyes.

contusion (n).

I treat your heart like a bruise -
I run my thumb over it
softly, like it is
purple and black, like
you somehow dropped it
when not looking where
you were landing your steps. 

Of your heart, like a bruise, I ask, 
"how did this come to be?"And,
"does it still hurt, does it hurt you,
when I press you, even softly,
when I bring my arm to your arm
and ask you to stand?" 

mooring (n).

I wait for myself in my wandering;
there are days that I wake that
I feel like I have left myself
out in a roaring sea.

Who was it that thought me
some great sailor, or
a siren who sings to soften
shaky tides and heavy storms?

Who placed me in this tide, this
rise and fall, and rise again,
torn away from rock and boulder
stretched out across inky waters
that house beasts and tales
of great men lost
to their dreams of new beginnings?

Who wrote this verse, the anthology
that chronicles voyages of wading,
and then waiting
to recognize the woman
who has returned home
after so long away?

There are days that I wake that
I feel like I have come home to myself
after lifetimes of crossing salted water;
what relief to see
myself after so much time.

What relief to see
I have not left, I was not gone
I did not lose myself, I was not
missing, I was not vacant.

I was only just
as the swallows are,
in flight without fleeing
in union with air and expanse
in song as I dance
ahead of hurricane, below
glass skies, beside
sailors as they make their way
back to their place of belonging.

anticipate (v).

Would it have hurt less
if I hadn't seen it coming
like a train sideswiping
and with no time to brace?

I saw you coming
like a heavy august storm -
an army of bouldering clouds advancing
steady towards the harbour

and still
I stood
in sand.

I did not find shelter
I did not lock windows or doors
I did not go to the storehouse
I did not, as you asked, 
mind mast and anchor
and keep myself at shore. 

Posted on May 6, 2017 and filed under the word project-.

oh hey there, celebratory giveaway.

As a thank you for following along with the #aprilwordproject, 
I'm giving away a poem to two people about whatever they want!
Here's how to enter:

ON INSTAGRAM:  just tag a friend on any of the
#aprilwordproject poems, that's it!

ON FACEBOOK / TWITTER: go to visitjessjanz.com and pick your favourite
#aprilwordproject poem and share it to your facebook or twitter page and
MAKE SURE YOU TAG ME so I can see that you've entered! 

I'll be doing the draw on Tuesday night! 
Thank you all for cheering me on during the #aprilwordproject!
xo jess. 

pour (v).

it has been easy to love you and also
not easy to love you; it is like
all of the kinds of rain, how
each kind tells a different story
that might not feel like the time
to hear it. 

it is like the kind of rain that
arrives in the middle of the night
keeping me from sleep and
getting my attention,

and also the kind of rain that
beads off of the ocean like mist
making our hair fuzzy and
the sand ideal for building into shapes, 

it is at times the kind of rain that
feels like the sky is bellowing
all at once all of her sorrows
unable to find some lake to fill so
she pours down on our rooftops. 

it is easy to love you and also
not easy to love you; it is like
all of the kinds of rain, how
it soaks through all of our clothing
and we show up for dinner with
enough water to float a boat
in our shoes but
tomorrow we will wake up
with a greater garden
in a plot we thought
was made of rocks and sand. 

sapling (n).

This is us as trees: 
I want dearly
to be mighty with
confidence in my
place and gentle in my response
to what gusts may come. 

You are made of oak
and earth with
branches dipped low
for easy footholds for
the child in you
if you'd invite him to play. 

And, planted by the riverbank, 
we just now see that
our roots can reach the water
and in spring it shows
in our budding canopies
the work we've done
to keep ourselves alive
during this winter. 

nearly (adv).

we were almost happy, we
were happy when
we were almost friends
but not friends because
we were almost lovers.

I was almost proud of us
when we were almost fine
to be near each other and
not bring our hands to meet
(just nearly)
but then I was almost sad
when you were almost satisfied
with going home alone so
I almost went with you
but I am almost always
left wanting for you to say
what you almost said
but definitely didn't say. 

cache (n).

how strange that
we run out of
kisses for someone's
face, shoulders, hands
and without knowing
when it will go from
this thing we do -
to place our lips
on each other's skin -
to this thing that
we think about
alone at night.

Sometimes I run my fingers
over the place on my wrist
you liked to kiss in the
quiet moments like after
dinner or when I asked you
a question that made you
feel too much;
here where there is
a river of veins
blue from the blood
held inside. 

embrace (v).

I won't hug you anymore
because
I am holding myself in
and holding myself back
because you could hold me
but you won't hold
my heart; you
avoid it like
one avoids
reaching for
a cast iron pan
straight off of the stove. 

I won't hug you
and you won't reach for me
so we don't hug
but you hold me
in the palm of your hand.