July 6, 2020

When she said “Wild,” she Meant she Wanted to Roar.


“What do you want to be when you grow up?”

She looked up at me, a feathered piece of grass behind her ear

The way she tended to do

Suddenly not eight but 8,000 years old,

and I saw laid out all the lives before her—

the goddesses within her—

the dirt, and the birds, and the wolves all at once.

Her eyes flashed copper.


When she said wild,

She meant that she wasn’t sure what to do with dolls

Whose plastic landed awkwardly

in her baby arms.

And then an adult would smile,

And she would smile,

But what she meant was that this feels more like a play

Than real life.

She meant please let her stay real.

When she said wild,

She meant please let her into the woods alone,

With her walking stick,

And she will raise herself


With the stream, flowing through the ravine, structured by ancient roots

And birds keeping watch,

And don’t tell the dolls

To where she’s gone.

When she said wild,

She meant that she never wanted to stop collecting

Rocks, friends, leaves, and books—

Collections that morph with age,

And displace hours of an electronic talking box,

And hold the stories of her life—

The possessions she’s valued along the way.

When she said wild,

She meant that she wanted to forage

Through the backyard,

Then the farmers markets,

Then the produce aisles.

She meant that she wanted to decide when young

What food is by smelling, and touching, and tasting,

And then let this skill grow,

So that as an adult she knows that most goodness starts

With pressed, local garlic sizzling in olive oil.

She meant that this felt like food,

Not the boxes,

Or the bags.

When she said wild,

She meant that she wanted to drive with nowhere to be,

No GPS or destination other than a general idea

Of a cardinal direction,

Mountains west,

Ocean farther west

And warmth to the South.

To roll the windows down

With hair blowing and tangled,

Singing Dixie Chicks to the wind,

And no need to check the “door lock” button


At each overnight rest stop.

When she said wild,

She meant that she wanted to speak from her stomach

With a voice that shows no quiver

For quiver is the language

Of a river that has been damned.

Turning something alive to a trickle,

and then infested and stagnant.

She wanted to swirl when she felt a swirl,

And to gurgle as she gathered thoughts,

And, when she was sure of her message—

She wanted

to roar.

When she said wild,

She meant she wanted to guard her pack,

not as an alpha, but as an equal.

A girlfriend.

A fellow spark and equal guardian

Unconcerned with pecking order, or popularity,

And viscerally ingrained with strength

That she took from the woods

And not the dolls

To be brave for the ones she loves.

When she said wild,

She meant that she longs for a world

Where she knows that the flash of pure, blinding copper

That starts in her chest,

Then beams from her throat and out her eyes

Stops evil in its tracks,

For that pure force she was gifted—

We all are gifted—

was meant to be enough

Before weapons overtook.

She wants the original “concealed carry”—

Reckless resolution—

To be enough.

When she said wild,

She meant that she wanted to know where the coffee beans were roasted.

She wanted them to smell equal parts smoke and earth,

Shimmering oil,

And then she wanted to grind them, coarsely,

To put into a press,

And then to press,

And drink their essence

Out of the mug made by Mark, who lives in the valley,

And why not every morning.

When she said wild,

She meant she wanted to do meaningful work, every day.

To live with purpose,

and get paid to do so,

by a system that shows her respect and recognition—

not in comparison to her in the eyes of others

but instead just because she is,


And that’s worthy

Worth a livable wage

And benefits.

When she said wild,

she meant that she wanted to breathe deeply

Supple lips touching, through her nose, and into her belly

Which would rise fully,

Round with life force,

Before exhaling—giving it back

To the world around her.

She wanted her stomach to never meet the stranger

Who’d whisper that flat is honorable,

She wanted to keep the pliability of her baby thighs.

To grow into a woman with quads that swell organically,

But a stomach that recalls

That soft

Is strong.

When she said wild,

She meant that she wanted to feel love

Not in the ache when you feel a need for shelter,

Or a fear of being alone,

But instead in the way one flame aches to join with another,

And burns like wildfire,

Then settles into a comforting glow

That lights the dark corners of any sunrise trail,

A love, to walk beside.

And to live that way,

Crackling warmth

And potential energy.

When she said wild,

She meant “to hell with the shapers,”

She wanted her skin to chicken with bumps

At the icy breeze through her thin dress

When she promised a forever,

And laughed with him—

A full, “what the fuck are we doing” laugh,

As together they feel each other,


And how absurd the concept of marriage is,

Except that they believe in the power of a promise,

And integrity


When she said wild,

She meant that she wanted to birth a child

Born of partnership, and love

Equally terrified and excited

For a life to arrive from her womb, and crawl up her stomach,

And then she wanted to find a new use of her body

As prana,

Milk flowing,

And to know with complete certainty

Where this new love comes from—

Generations of women who have sweat, and loved, and given, and received

A feeling so reassuringly separate

From the dolls.

When she said wild,

She meant that she’d like to navigate

By going toward what makes it easy to breathe,

And not necessarily what always feels warm,

But absolutely what feels real

And raw.

By eating food that tastes like life and drink that flows like refreshment,

By holding those whose spirits she protects,

And being held by those who protect hers.

When she said wild,

You see,

She meant that she wanted to live

So that when her sunset comes,

She sits down in the grass,


Without eagerness but also no holding.

Just lay back

And ponder a cloud as it casts her in shade

Impossibly slow,

And impossibly fast.

And isn’t that the way.

She meant that she wanted to exhale


in the feathered grass

That sways in the mountain’s breeze.

Words weren’t equipped,

At least, not hers

Because whose are

At eight

Or 8,000

But if she could have explained,

This is what she’d meant.

As a child

As a woman

As the spirit

When she said



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