grocery list

With a scratched plastic basket banging
across my left hip, I call you to ask
if there was anything we needed at home.
A pause.
Not really, you say absent-mindedly.
Okay, I say. Okay. Still
I wander through the fluorescent-flooded
aisles, taking my time, labels
passing me by like warning signs.
Always in my head there is an inventory
of things we are constantly
running out of. Sugar. Toilet paper. Crackers.
Hand soap. Creamer. Garbage bags. Time
has never been on our side
when it comes to keeping shelves stocked, full,
not leaving room for empty spaces
or absences that glare from the mildewed dark.
I know you said we didn’t need anything
but maybe we do. Lettuce and spinach,
brown rice, chicken breasts, in case we want
to start making healthier choices
for ourselves. Bread, in case you wake up
in the middle of the night craving
a grilled cheese sandwich, floating with hunger
toward the hum of the refrigerator, the light
from the door cracking my sleep open.
(I would get out of bed and make you one, keep
the edges burnt and the insides gooey.)
A fly trap, for the mouse I keep hearing
rummaging through the cupboards
at dawn—that’s just your imagination,
you’d say again, like you always do

when it comes to things you cannot see
yourself. At the checkout counter
the woman ahead of me in line
has loaded up her cart with bags
of potato chips and one-liter bottles of soda,
a raw testament to the loneliness
that can so easily consume you if you let it. I pay
in credit, not making eye contact
with the cashier when she brushes her hand
against mine. She tells me to have a nice day.
I almost believe she means it. The bagger winks at me
conspiratorially. Already there are cracks
in the brown paper bags I’ve wrapped 

my arms around, the threat of breaking and 
spilling. The crumpled up receipt tossed 
into the parking lot trash can. When will I ever 
be back? All sales are final, and you can never return 
whatever it was you were once so convinced 
you needed.

confessions from the apothecary

The woman at the apothecary wonders why I keep
returning, wandering aimlessly through the aisles
of lavender and rosemary and eucalyptus,
squinting up in all earnestness at the rows
of bottles and balms and oils as if something
was always calling my name in the smallest of voices
from the highest, farthest shelf. She wonders
what it is I am hoping to find. I’ve gotten close
enough to know her eyes are glassy islands
in a brown sea of wrinkles, close enough to know
her palms smell like musk, her lips cracked
like ginger and aged oak. Close enough to understand
that there are some losses that never really leave you.
Close enough to see that she’s tried to wash
it all away with bars of cedar soap, slather
a thick layer of salve over every latent ache. Heal.
I’ve asked her more than once if there’s any chance
a drop of chamomile can soothe my soul,
if the essence of freshly picked calendula will ever
bring you back. She smiles sometimes
but never answers. She hands me a new jar
every week, sealed tight with a cork, or maybe
it’s the same jar with a different label, pieces of paper
peeled off and pressed on in the hopes of revival, and
yet I never take it. I’ve made a habit out of
walking out empty-handed, choosing not to let
the promises of radiance and rejuvenation,
clarity and calm, permeate my skin, hair, nails.
Choosing not to believe. Not anymore. But maybe
someday I will try to slip a vial into my pocket
when she’s not looking, pretend I won’t get caught.
See just how much I can get away with
when I finally decide to get away.

shrine

Under tender white sheets crouching
from our hiding position, let me tell you
there is no need to be afraid.
You’re only one dress away from this town
of all the questions I’ve built
answers to, a place where the waiting
happens not in stoplights or queues
but every night when I set the table
for two, listening for the turning
of your key in the lock, the click, the door
swinging open like a page.

Eyes fill up when girls with flowers

in their hair walk in, and little boys in vests
and shoes shined to perfection, and I
will always meet you at the end of 
that aisle, knowing grace
follows the curve of your back, the soft
sighs you make in your sleep.
Under tender white sheets crouching
from our hiding position, let me
take your hand and lead you out to safety;
this is where we find our space.
You’re only one dress away from this town
and I have finally figured out 
that all signs point to yes, and all roads 
lead nowhere but home.

in case you come back


It’s been two months since we released this book out into the world, but every new mention or tag alerting our eager eyes and ears that someone has bought it, brought it home, and let its words and art seep into their soul still feels nothing short of amazing. It’s been two months since we released this book out into the world and I am still so, so grateful: to Reese and Jamie, foremost and forever, but also to everyone who has touched this book and allowed us to touch their hearts in the process.

It’s been two months since we released this book out into the world and since then so much has changed, as a good friend had predicted earlier this year over coffee, cheese, and tarot cards; and yet when I think about it, so much has stayed the same. Constant. Steady. Kind. There are parts of me that are still gentle after all these years of trying not to be, and will remain that way for as long as I allow them to. There are parts of me that have to go sometimes, when there are places to be explored and answers to be questioned and people I have yet to learn to love better, but there are parts of me that will keep coming back. Home. Here. Always.

halfway

It took me so long to realize that not everything
that was built to bend has also been built
to break, that the best things withstand
the tests we flesh out in our minds, that
there is patience and kindness and gentleness,
light, wafting down from the ceiling
if I can only remember to look up, so
from now on when my voice hits that icy note 
you know all too well, remind me to step 
outside of my sullen and sour, zip my jacket up 
to hide the threat of a frown and keep walking
until I turn the corner and see a lamp post,
a vending machine, a diner buzzing at 3 AM,
 a bus stop, a waiting car, your face etched
with worry, relief. I am probably still going 
to forget sometimes. Sorry about that—you know 
how hard I try. But at least my limbs will always
have it in them to reach out to where you are,
and you will never have to go too far
to find the warmth I’ve been saving for you.

All text original work by Marla Miniano. Powered by Blogger.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

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I write, edit, and produce books for a living. I also: take photos, attempt poetry, make travel plans, snore, do the dishes, daydream on the treadmill, and dress like a loose grandma. For feedback, questions, and invitations, email me at marlaminiano@gmail.com.

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