We are born by breaking,
cracking the shells of melon bellies
in a mudslide of blood;
we were all called truth before we received our names.
How quickly we forget.

My eyes loved the moon first
loved how she unraveled every month and then
stitched herself back together again
loved how she kept songs in her pockets
instead of hands,
loved to collect her craters
and listen to them bumpy and brittle on cloud-choked nights
just to be certain we do not have to be whole
to be beautiful.

When the clay dragon I had loved with two rainfall hands
all morning
was scraped from the kiln in tatters,
I gathered the jagged fragments –
the half tail, a piece of cheek, one whole wing –
convinced myself that destruction is what makes art worth making,
and released the pieces back into the river.
No one cries when sand mandalas are blown into memories
and given to aquatic creatures –
surrounded by water and silt
fish see beauty through their skin and have no need for tears.

But you cannot know what it feels like
to have nothing between yourself and beautiful
until you've played the piano
with everything except your fingers
gazelle elbowed and bumblebee knuckled
eyes pressed closed like books of flattened flowers
with all the awkwardness of ducks loving tree stumps
with all the honesty of shrubs pushing crooked and loose
through the gums of mountain slopes
and with all the elegance of a god who dances the world apart.

Shiva, I am speaking to YOU.
I know why you dance.
You understand that to break something
is not the same as to destroy something;
to break something is to create many new things
so you dance fractures wider,
you dance holes deeper,
you dance seams into splitting,
you dance fingers into snapping,
you dance trees into burning,
you dance hurricanes into cities,
you dance airplanes into buildings,
you dance clay dragons into rivers
and you can't stop dancing
you can't stop dancing –
Take my hand.
Take off your shoes.
Barefoot, I will show you how to slowdance.
The world will still fall to pieces beneath our feet
but we can learn to feel beauty
through the skin
of our soles.

A/N: This is a slam poem. It is not meant to be read; it is meant to be performed. So if it's weird on paper (or on screen)... that might be why. This is one of the pieces I will be performing for National Qualifiers next week. Don't mind the sporadic lack of punctuation -- poetry and punctuation don't mix well for me. Sort of like ice cream and ketchup. Ew.

This is my nod to moon poetry. I never really tire of moon poetry. And I really did sculpt a dragon once that was blasted to pieces in the kiln. I was eleven and I kept myself from crying by reminding myself that monks in the Himalayas washed their mandalas into the river to remember the impermanence of beauty and work and life.