“Not Doing Something Wrong Isn’t the Same as Doing Something Right” by Cristin O’Keefe Aptowicz

In my defense, my forgotten breasts. In my defense, the hair
no one brushed from my face. In my defense, my hips.

Months earlier, I remembered thinking that sex was a ship retreating
on the horizon. I could do nothing but shove my feet in sand.

I missed all the things loneliness taught me: eyes that follow you
crossing a room, hands that find their home on you. To be noticed. Even.

In my defense, his hands. In my defense, his arms. In my defense,
how when we just sat listening to each other breathe, he said, This is enough. 

My body was a house I had closed for the winter. It shouldn’t have been
that difficult, empty as it was. Still, I stared hard as I snapped off the lights.

My body was specter which haunted me, appearing when I stripped
in the bathroom, when I crawled into empty beds, when it rained.

My body was abandoned construction, restoration scaffolding
which became permanent. My body’s unfinished became its finished.

So in my defense, when he touched me the lights of my body came on.
In my defense, the windows were thrown open. In my defense, spring.

– Cristin O’Keefe Aptowicz; “Not Doing Something Wrong Isn’t the Same as Doing Something Right” via The Bakery

“Wild Geese: after Mary Oliver” by Cristin O’Keefe Aptowicz

Wild Geese

after Mary Oliver

by Cristin O’Keefe Aptowicz

You don’t have to be crushed
under the spokes of your own desire
to be proven worthy enough.

The trophies of your hard work don’t
have to appear so freshly on your body.
Your clothes need not be torn.

Every night, you worry a new bird’s nest
from your hair. Every night, your dreams
grind you under her boot heel.

Your pendulum heart doesn’t need
to swing so hard in either direction.
Nails don’t have to be bitten to the nub.

You have to believe that the ground will
materialize under your feet the moment
you step forward. No one can tell you

if it will be rock gravel, or slick with pain.
No one can travel this road before you do.
It is yours, and it is beautiful because of it.


“Wild Geese: after Mary Oliver” by Cristin O’Keefe Aptowicz, via The Bakery.