Tag Archives: Rennes

Looking Like Rennes

Steve Lacy sings “Bad Habit” to me as I wait at the Cesson bus stop to board my near-daily bus to the center of town.

My eyes dart from this page frequently, expecting the C6 Aeroport to be in view. I can’t tell if they are always late or all early, but the bus always exhales in labored exhaust, sometime between the time you waited for and the next. Either way, I board five past and make it to Republique anyways.

I don’t know how long I have kept to this habit of taking iced coffee at Mokka and observing everyone who passes on the ever-populated Rue de le Bastard.

What I have seen these past weeks comes in a few variations.

Overwhelmingly, black covers the shoulders of these Rennes walkers. All ages seem to have an attachment to this base, the young and feminine accentuating with perhaps a pop of color or contrast of pattern.

Among this swarm, new women dress in black tights, either end landing in boots or under dark skirts. These girls don oversized coats, two buttons unbuttoned as each side hangs open on their first layer. Their breaks in black often come in white or tan, basic color blocking for a population that keeps one toe in homogeny.

Cream-colored sneakers see the world from millennial feet as they walk into light creases against the uneven stone. These women wrap their necks in soft cotton scarves and top their heads with the ascribed bennie. Brown hair curls under and into their XXL button-up sweaters, warm and puffed like shag carpet.

I don’t hate it, though they drone on in the same colors, black, cream, tan, brown, and pink, barely distinguishable from white.

Naturally, within any herd of dressers, the brilliant and beautiful stick out, and Rennes’ diamonds are no exception.

For the older generation of women, most of whom are under the universal urge to chop their hair with the same sharp shortness, these feats of fashion come in coordinated color schemes and fabric attention. As they pass, there is a certainty that even their socks match and mirror what they wear on the surface.

In youth, colored fits find my focus and pull me in pinpointed directions to pink floral buzz cuts and wide-legged denim. Their identity hemorrhages from their patterned skirts and oversized sweaters. Legs slid between thin tights, torn and running, while their canvas-bagged shoulders rock back and forth. Earrings hang heavy from stretched lobes and chart empty spaces on their faces.

And then there are the leather ladies, and I do love them. 20, 30, 40-something girls creaking down the street with arms crossed over silver ornaments in black boots, invariably. Their hair is always pinned and pulled, cheekbones leading their walk.

Made in the USA

When she asks what I want,
I want to tell her
I love the way her nails,
dark green and noir,
match her drawn eyes.
I want to tell her
exactly how much I prepare
just to hear this question.
I want to say
the words I mean, effortlessly,
with the same loose twist of tongue
that comes after I’ve gotten my spirits up.
I want to hold on
to this moment before she knows
my whole truth.
And I can’t tell her,
not without stumbling,
words invariably slurred by my American mouth.
I try anyways,
but it is too early to tell
if she will let me finish.

At times, a young boy strolls by with a matching sweat set in tan, gray, or some other soft color. Most men, on the other hand, stick to their black scripts. They layer t-shirts and sweatshirts, pulling puffers over all of this and ending over black pants that brim their Nike choose-your-own-adventures.

Another look frequents this male population in tan pants and tucked t-shirt. Layered above is a blue or deep green button-up, and over that, a similarly dark sweater. The collar of their ironed blue peaks out from v-neck scoop.

Perhaps, though not necessarily, they don a comfortable jacket and scarf below the rim of their cotton caps. All this over business boots laced up and double tied with stiff hands living outside their week-day keyboard station.

Iced coffee and pen in hand, I turn my pinky to the sky in my version of Rennes’ fashion.

A black base, of course, is worn over my legs in faintly patterned tights and a clingy velvet skirt. I have an aversion to the feel of velvet against my fingers, so I try not to think too much while I snake the zipper over my hip and slip a black and white turtle neck over my head of loose hair. Next, I tie it all away from my face with an orange pop of color. The bright scarf is lined with white strokes that call to their counterparts on my chest.

Secured with four crossed bobby pins, I can fasten the four buttons that fall over my wrists. This final layer comes in a faint cream button-up dotted with a second dollop of cream in polka dots. And, since it is me, my fingers are crowned in gold and silver bands, a brick and a stone of purple, as gold joins the fabric on each wrist.

The remaining hair is tossed over my shoulder as I pull Kyle, Cartman, and Kenny dressed as pirates and vampires over each end of my tights, it is Halloweek after all. Finally, I stomp into my white platform docs and lace them around my South Park secret.

This is my Rennes, or as close to it as my wardrobe allows.

Wet Dog

Are they supposed to see through my grin?
Past the stiff cock of my head to the side?
Or feelings I plaster across my face?

Does my one-handed San Pelligrino sell nativity
or betray my naivety?

I dress in color
because I live in color,
but I don’t have the key
to unlock the glass ceiling
that takes the context out of everything.

Either way, I can’t stop finding people
who want me,
want to strip my words away
see what body is my truth,
like that.

Am I paranoid to think that the table over is talking about me?
They must be,
either blase or smelling it on me,
before I can speak.

Once I open my mouth,
wet dog
damp and almost alright.
Half-way clean,
half-way soiled,
I just don’t have the soap
to wash these abstractions away.

Iced Coffee Escapades pt.2: Cafe Glace S’il Vous Plaît

If you have been following my blog, you know that for me, iced coffee is a must. You have likely read my rants about its scarcity in Europe, and if this is true, then it will be no surprise that I am back with another edition of Iced Coffee Escapades, this time in Rennes.

Mokka

With two locations in Rennes, the house of my go-to iced coffee sits aside the busy foot traffic of Rue le Bastard, just before the craft-store alcove next door.

Black awnings and metal chairs encroach upon the street in a small arrangement while the line snakes and breaks through the afternoon.

Their menu lists many drinks, from green tea to americanos, with an option to make any drink “froid,” or over ice. In addition to its extensive menu, Mokka offers sizes akin to the oversized American standards I am used to. Their large is about 24ounces, more than generous compared to the typical French 6.

For these reasons, Mokka has quickly become a popular stop along my day since I first discovered it with an equally ice-obsessed friend.

Despite my love of Mokka’s cold and convenience, the cafe is more equipped for à emporter than sur place. The wifi has difficulty reaching the end of the patio, and no toilet is tucked in the back, making this cafe less than ideal for an afternoon with a laptop.

Still, I am grateful for Mokka’s no-nonsense iced coffee, and as a misplaced connoisseur, who am I to complain?

Cafe Albertine

For a kitchen-cafe experience, head to Albertine. The mid-sized lounge bridges the gap between cafe and restaurant as wifi and caffeine power patrons through their morning. Its living room style provides a calm workspace that filled each breath with baked aromas.

I found a round table towards the back, with the same friend who introduced me to my beloved Mokka. She told me she had never been here before, and we ordered the same combination of iced latte and cinnamon roll.

The roll was woven like a flower, pieces pulling from doughy center as it unfolded in my hands, the flavor amplified by the cool introduction of espresso and milk on ice.

Music came softly from the cafe’s corners, Cage the Elephant, then Tame Impala filling the space between our words.

Light floods the restaurant as its windows are a clear, looking glass into the morning cold. People line the walls with their laptops and meetings, and it is easy to slip into the tranquility of background conversation.

The clacked exchange between fingers and keys is my white noise, after years spent writing in city cafes. These vibrations lull me to thought and I wonder what my infant self would think if she could see me now.

Lines

Where did I draw the line?
There have been too many revisions,
too many exceptions.
Too much blurred led,
gummed eraser ends,
and holes in the space between.
I feel my origin shrinking,
while my head occupies the same space
above my shoulders,
and my limbs go about their day.
Dragging me along long nights
and moral mistakes,
asking me to forget everything.
I beg my body to take me to myself,
and I look– into the crystal balls that see the world,
and find that momentary grasp of self.
That moment’s recognition before you fade before your own eyes.
The voice I heard as a child has been replaced,
though echoes hear her, sometimes,
when her fists pound against my heavy glass,
and she glares through my eyes
just like I ask her.
Only at night can I crawl back inside,
and find her curled up inside me.
I take her head in my hands and ask her to look.
To remember what I can’t and tell me how we should feel.
Her eyes grow wide each time
as she relives each way my body has danced,
her mouth doesn’t know pride or disappointment,
her breath fogs my eyes, as
her hands hold mine and more freedom.
More than she knew she meant when she screamed,
and I don’t know what to tell her anymore.

Sainte Anne Social

A metro station between a chapel and a carousel, and the central meeting point for a night out or an afternoon in the sun.

The station entrance is populated by clusters of people I can only compare to the unhoused hippies of San Francisco. They pass cigarettes, share toothy grins, and I feel nothing but safe as I lean against the transit map and press send on “I’m here:)”

My first meeting at Sainte Anne was on a Tuesday. My friend emerged from the underground and embraced me with fresh blue hair dye and an English smile.

We walked the immediate square and drew our eyes across the circle of tavern-style buildings that house German bars, small-event pubs, and tapas restaurants. We passed through a maze of scattered table plots where sounds of merry beer drinkers clamored through the open air.

She led me past these fronts and across Rue de Sauf, the popular pedestrian passage of bars and nightlife until we reached our destination. Poke!

A relatively new cuisine for Rennes but a tradition for me. The pink fish and rice called me back to every other Tuesday with my residential best friends in Chicago.

Here, the clean green restaurant, Island Poke, offered almost every ingredient for my reverential poke Tuesday.

Tuesday

you saw me hungry
ordering your largest size
eating every word that echoed off your plastic
bounced laugh to laugh
within the walls of our Chicago apartment.
you were there when we watched 90-day fiance
and I thought I had my own
you got stuck in my teeth
as green cards were signed
and friends fell asleep in each other’s arms
you were even there when I didn’t want you
bringing too many viewers to my breakup
and I picked at you with carpal tunnel chopsticks for revenge
I choked you down and willed you to disappear
but you had to be there
we all needed you
even when you were a group of wrong orders
too much seaweed and missing soy sauce
your mouthpieces added us on instagram
and we let them comment and discount
like friends with ulterior motives do
you still came when I couldn’t afford you
when I was too lazy to pick you up
but my hands changed their mind at the last minute
hey- grab one for me
I’ll pay you back I promise
I’ll cue something on the tv
I’ll feel whole when we’re together

My next Sainte Anne rendezvous came just a few days later. Another “I’m here:)” text and my date appeared, taking me across the same square but this time in daylight.

No open taverns lit the populated street. This time, storefronts jumped forth from each window. Children’s clothes, British candy shops, trinkets and souvenirs, record stores, women’s accessories, and a centre commercial with name-brand overcharges.

I asked for vintage resale, and he delivered, leading me down an empty alley where I thought for a moment, this is the end, until it opened to a clearing behind buildings and one open door.

As we crossed the threshold, my breath caught in my throat. It was magical.

The smell of freshly baked cookies wafted from the cafe corner and mingled with the earthly scent at the potted plant entrance. The walls were decorated with vintage posters and products, while the floor was crowded with equally antique couches and chairs, all urging us towards a small door frame in the back.

I dragged him by the hand, and together we stepped through the portal and embraced my Narnia.

Lining each wall were unique racks of floral dresses, knit sweaters, silk shirts, knee-length skirts, ‘80s jazzercise gear, leather second skins, pleated pants, and an unfair amount of jeans. Racks crowding the center of the room were topped with colorful converse, various hats, suede shoes, and leather boots as bins piled thin pieces between each gap in real estate.

Despite the abundance of my Eden, I held onto self-control and departed with only one pair of corduroy boot-cut pants that I arguably need as fall holds its season.

We left Vacarme, and it was my turn to lead the way. A short walk brought us to Renne’s latest Kilo Shop. A concept I’ve only seen this side of the Atlantic, the store color codes its clothes through security tags that reveal your item’s price when you weigh them on a metal scale.

We began our exploration through the overwhelming racks of jackets and jeans; suede overcoats and piled suspenders winked through our fingers.

Our footsteps found a spiral staircase, and we took it, descending to the basement where “mixed” clothes of no gender hung side by side. (But let’s be honest, who is still sticking to their designated label of clothing?)

I ran my hands over cotton, polyester, silk, and linen until I paused on a deep purple oversized polo sweater. Okay, one item, I told myself. You can buy one item.

And for €9 I made it mine.

Other People’s Clothes

strange
how fabric can bring you home.
and an array of colors
can be the cheat code of comfort.
a loose thread can be pulled,
to make something new,
or create a problem to mend,
depending on who you are.
destroyer & creator
you can’t have one without the other.
stealing from the past and passing it
as something entirely new,
who are you to tell me no?
if you know anything of art,
you know nothing is new.
people place limits on other people’s clothes,
write rules on the cloth that covers me.
no white after labor day,
or mixed patterns and metals.
but my silver shirts sparkle with golden chains,
purple pulls the same extra-large over my shoulders,
corduroy slides, ready to be worn to pieces,
and my body fills the space someone dropped in a box.

I Love Ireland

Not because I’ve ever been or seen what the country has to offer besides what can be gleaned from the closed captions of Netflix’s “Derry Girls,” but for the simple fact that Irish pubs offer a happy break for English within any large city.

Here in Rennes, there are many, though I’ve only been to three so far.

In Munich and Vienna, I found safe places to grab a beer and take a beat. Their large spaces are frequently furnished in wood and kind people who typically let you mind your business. Though, if you desire a conversation, there are always chatty English speakers who are more than ready to strike up an impromptu friendship.

My first journey to Rennes’ Ireland took me to a basement pub, aptly named Penny Lane, to lure tourists and locals into an anglo night out.

The pub expanded as I stepped down the few steps that broke off from the street-level entrance. Barrells and light-washed wooden stools made stereotypical tables in the corners of each room, while couches and short coffee tables took up most of the space.

I ordered my lager and settled into a tall seat along the plank-lined wall. My stool rested just next to the stage, and I wished there was a live show that night. The small stage accentuated my longing to attend the gigs of my friend’s band, Mind, in Chicago.

I miss those shows while I attend to my travels and only have my memory of how the building shakes with sound and the pounding swell of music compels you to trade your daily stress for flying your arms loose in the air and swaying to the rhythm with your friends on and off stage.

Nothing compares to live music or the pride you feel when your friends rock the stage.

But alas, it was just me and the rest of the pub doing Irish cosplay, humming softly to whatever American band beat from the loudspeaker.

I Love Music

Isn’t it so important?
I whisper this to my best friend
as we slip into the familiar conversation.
I can’t live without it, can you?
No.
I can’t imagine life without
the hum from car speakers,
the bass of the motor.
I feel it before the beat finds the canals in our heads
before it translates rhythm onto the drums inside.
Isn’t it crazy that our bodies have instruments?
It is.
I love it.
I love music
we laugh in matrimony through our worst nights,
armed with our love for each other and sound.
I love music
we cry through highway hazards,
tears shed for lyrics we swear must hear what we only say inside.
I love music
we sing in midnight storms,
drunk on the mist that clouds all other noise.
I love music
when the cops pull us over, again
for a broken tail light.
I love music
and I’m sorry, officer, I didn’t know
I love music
so I forgot
or I didn’t want to open my eyes
or a million other excuses
while we drowned the real world out
with the only one that makes sense
blasting from the radio.

For my next excursion, I found Bar A Cocktails le Irish Pub Shamrock. In true Irish fashion, the pub was decked out in dark wood planks and declarations of English words. Beer is good! How to drink Beer? Drink it! (some profound stuff). A tower of canned soup rose from an abandoned section of the bar while grunge indie rock circa 2010 blared from unseen speakers.

I smiled as the familiar voices sang-talked along hectic beats just as they did from my corded headphones in middle school.

All of this came together as the owner introduced himself to me. The French-forward man and his potbelly spoke sparse English, but enough to try and convince me to drink a green jager-inspired pint and sell me a bucket of fries.

I stuck to my cider, handed to me by the blue and white striped bartender who leaned across the bar and whispered to me that he would keep the boss from bothering me.

I appreciated him as I settled into my barreled seat in the corner and continued to read and write in my own world.

It wasn’t long before a “fellow writer” approached me and bought me another cider in exchange for my company. He proceeded to tell me all about the one book he managed to publish, some study on psychology he clearly had too much confidence in if he thought our conversation was going to end up where he wanted it to.

I wished him a good evening as he finally rewound red scarf around his neck and departed before it rained again.

A moment of silence warmed me before the next inevitable “what are you writing?” came from another male voice. This visitor was a kid, hardly over eighteen, and harmless, as we laughed over the last man’s attempts at flirting with me.

It was nice to have a laugh, but I was tired of male attention and bid him goodnight by 10:30, taking my bus home before more English speakers asked for my number.

Losing Softness

From all sides I am surrounded
by every intention but the real thing.
Someone says something because they want something.
It’s always something.
A look over my book is read
as an invitation to speak to me.
A conversation starter, right?
This attempted barrier between us,
and the problem is, it is.
From her, I’d love nothing more than to look up
and explain its pages,
but I expect all the hims to know the difference.
And this smile I’ve been taught to maintain,
this civility hurts more than it helps.
Sometimes, it’s always sometimes.
A laugh doesn’t mean I like you,
but it can
and how are they supposed to know
when it means don’t be mad,
please don’t make this more uncomfortable,
let this be my last laugh and leave me alone.
Sometimes I imagine myself so hardened,
and other times, I meet these hard women.
So beautiful that their soft gold has tarnished to iron,
but that’s not right because they can still be soft,
sometimes.
Maybe we were always diamonds,
and youth covered us in gaudy gold,
but these women have been polished
sharper by every time they had to scream no.
And this happened so many times that they glint the answer, now
before the question.
Because sometimes we know the question,
always.
And I wonder as they protect me,
what made you so strong?
So unafraid of being hard and then soft,
of making someone earn it.
Even though I know the answer.

My next Irish adventure brought me to O’Connell’s Irish pub. As soon as I passed through its blonde threshold, I knew this was the place I had been looking for.

The tables sat in multiple open rooms, and the bar menu called every drink by its English name.

Don’t get me wrong, I love studying the French language and crave the unmatched swell of pride that follows any conversation where I do not have to break into English.

That being said, I long for deeper friendships. Friends who understand my nuances and can follow every turn of phrase. People who can laugh at my jokes without their explanation and rise with the sun on this side of the world. And at O’Connell’s, I finally broke the cycle of men and found friends.

I chose a nice nook in the second deepest room, ordered my first half pint in French before ordering my second in English from a seat at the bar.

The sweet young girl on the other side introduced herself, and we quickly broke the customer-server wall on our way to an easy friendship. She took her break with me, and we exchanged anecdotes about our English degrees and life as foreigners in France.

Contrary to these preceding paragraphs, bars are not my preferred places to make friends. Pubs can be better, but you still run the risk of appearing as an object rather than a person. But in this case, it worked.

Shortly after this meeting, my love of a woman’s tights led to a seat with her group of friends who formed a sort of “English Club.” This was their name, but the club was not formal; about seven people of various ages from different English-speaking countries who met for a pint on Wednesdays.

Thankfully, the third time was the charm, and how fitting, in Ireland.

English and the Acrobatics of a World Without

Nothing makes me happier than your words
spilling from any mouth.
I feel a release at your sound and
at last,
broken from the conversation in my mind
I hear you aloud.
I smile & laugh
at the simple joy of an anglo “hello”
and god, I love your letters.
In a way I never realized before.
All these years spent studying you,
the regulations on your order,
breaking them for the sake of art.
I’ve spent hours, and I’ll spend more,
sounding out what spelled a sentence the most beautiful,
choosing which crescendo of consonants sounded the most alive
and all this time I took you for granted.
I understood you,
so I ignored how you made my life easy.
I spoke you under my breath
so many times I stopped hearing you.
I violated your rules with my friends for cheap laughs,
used you to close the gap
so many times
between two moleculed mouths
who know the words we say to each other.
I knew I loved you, but I wanted more.
I was greedy
for a worldliness to call my own.
I craved
foreign friends and other lovers
to teach me again how to see the world.
I am happy
because I’ve met them.
And it feels good to feel the meaning of other alphabets
once I break through the headache,
but I find my head always aching.
I always own this yearning for simple beauty,
for the elementary love of a language I understand.
Your words breed affection in me,
making any mouth’s movements captivating.
It’s you who draws me into their every breath,
and this lasts for a while.
Until I turn over their words in my head
like I am used to doing with all the others,
and realize they used you to say nothing new.

Cesson-Sevigne Break into Reality

It has been less than five days since I arrived in my new home, Cesson-Sevigne, a quiet town nestled just outside the larger metropolis of Rennes. I can already feel the loving sprouts of familiarity winding, filling the space between me and its local virtues.

Its morning smell of bread and butter, the quiet rustle of voices outside my window, and the soft breaks of rain that permeate the streets with nature’s aroma.

My apartment, above the bakery of my employer, looks over the slight street and onto the butchershop, bustling with morning deliveries and the day’s local rush. Just around the corner is a store for home goods and tea; single-seat tables dot the space outside and beckon passers-by to peer inside. An old church stands in angled antiquity over the small market square.

Just down the road extends the bridged entrance, welcoming me with shallow waters and a cobblestone path meant for entrance by foot, bike, or car; all transport small enough to be the same. Stones pierce the water’s surface alongside patches of flowers and tufts of mossy green.

It has taken me longer than usual to write of this entrance. With my laptop sent on its merry way for repairs, I have found myself without my natural motivation. There are only so many times I can write fresh and alive about the cobblestone, stone walls, stone bridges, stone everything. Yes, France is green and beautiful, and it is enough to choke my throat with my luck, but how many ways can I say grass before they are all just words we all glaze over as we scan my next post?

I am craving something new, something real, or at least more authentic than the typical introduction to my next village. It’s still true that my eyes trace the nature around me with an attachment to the ethereal and earthly details, and my mind winds with a million ways to say this is original love, but I will be here for a while. There is plenty of time to languish in the details.

Boarding the C6 bus takes me to Rennes’ center. The wheeled journey travels along split pavement that breaks for the river’s channel. My gaze trades this view for my book as I avoid the stare of the man who insisted on speaking to me at the bus stop.

Plath

I am looking at you, Sylvia,
and your page gifts me some solace from the man
who stares and talks at me
though I don’t meet his eye.
Just because we board the same bus
does not mean we have anything in common
but the same slow ride to the center.

I see gray dot his beard while
I wade, barely ankle deep in my 20s.
What does he expect me to say
when he tells me he speaks very little English
and I lie,
saying I speak no French,
none at all.

Why does he ask where I live,
and why am I so polite that I reflexively ask his name
when he asks for mine?
Why did this instinct grip me, Sylvia?
Why do I prefer my discomfort to a scene at his expense?
I don’t want to make things worse,
so I let him do that.

I choose the single lonely seat,
he cannot sit next to me, so he sits across from me.
Of course he does,
I asked his name,
didn’t I?

I see silver on his left ring finger, and
I feel his eyes on my hands as I write to you.
The corner of his eye wonders
what could I possibly have to write?
What could be so pressing I must avert my gaze?

Sylvia, what makes the difference
between him and the other men
I try and understand.
I met one yesterday and gave him my number,
gladly,
with a real smile.

But he waited for my grin and gaze
and did not insist on everything.
He did not continue on
after I had stopped talking,
after I barely started.
He did not rise with me at my stop,
exiting the doors behind me and calling
the name I let him learn.
He did not trail my brisk footsteps,
or make me shake with anger, pepperspray grip in my pocket,
or press through my truthful answer.

No, I do not want to get coffee with you, no.
There doesn’t need to be a reason,
but he needs one so he can understand.
His one-track mind can only fathom my lie.
I don’t want coffee with you,
and he waits for the because.
Because I have a boyfriend,
I don’t Sylvia,
but thats the only because he knows.
Back off, he understands now,
not because I am my own and don’t owe him my presence,
but back off,
because
I am already another man’s property.

And Sylvia, what is respect but between two men?

Men are the same in every country. I try and brush this off as I continue on my way to the bookstore, checking over my shoulder every two seconds to make sure he’s really gone. He is, as far as I can tell, but I still feel every presence around me like a threat, and it is too early for this. 10am? Jesus Christ.

I’ve calmed down by the time I make my purchase, an English to French workbook I will attempt to instruct myself with as every real course is too expensive. Though finding an affordable course has proved difficult, I refuse to be discouraged.

If I dedicate myself to reading french books, completing workbooks for grammar, and speaking to as many people as possible in a day, my comprehension and expression will surely improve. Saying yes to the kinder Frenchmen who ask me to coffee can’t hurt either, though I spend half these dates nodding along, smiling when they do, and repeating a casual “ouias, ouias” every so often.

Regardless, dating is good practice, and it’s fun to play along.

Like most cities at the end of Summer, Rennes is littered with construction sites. Work trucks blare loudly down the street as yellow and orange vests circle city craters. These swollen trucks crowd the small aisles of the street and are often circled by police cars.

Besides my usual disgust at their presence, I also possess a new fear of these officers due to my french employment and lack of visa to extend my stay in the EU.

The three-month limit has crept up quickly and prickles me with that familiar flighty feeling that screams, “you’ve got to go!”

But I don’t want to. I want to stay. I want to learn this life for a while.

My visa will come, despite my stress, and a WWII caveat extends my legal stay from three weeks to two months. Still, my spine shutters with uncertainty.

Nothing Dire

This is the message sent & delivered (quietly).
The message that pops through the apple ether & sprouts
with an earlier time stamp on my mother’s phone.

Nothing dire, but call me.
Nothing dire, but tears are threatening me in this cafe.
Nothing dire, but my life is kind of perfect- and what if it’s taken away?

Are the cracks beginning to show?
I fill their hairline fractures shallowly, like makeup
over a bruise, just enough so I can squint & ignore & look
upon my other features.
Can I see them spreading,
like a network of roots beneath me,
perhaps.

I am so afraid of water’s presence,
next to anything with an on button.
I’ll dry, you can cry on me,
but don’t you dare juice an apple,
not while my fingers rest on its keys.

Why must there be passports,
why visas & contracts & cameras.
tracking tracking tracking,
marking me for taking up space.

I am so petrified of the police,
even though I am young & innocent &
if that isnt enough, I’m white.

I’m not illegal,
not yet.

Nothing dire, but I can hear hooks’ crocodile hunting me.
Nothing dire, but my stay is a ticking time bomb.
Nothing dire, but it’s counting backward until I am a violation.

An aberration for my presence, but
I just want to live free,
somewhere off cruel soil- off my soil.
That dirt, colored cruel because I know too much.
Give me fresh, clean soil! Or if not,
give me mud marked ancient & wet
by tears I do not understand enough to join in the crying.

Nothing dire, but I need new ignorance.
Nothing dire, but just for a moment.