I started “Word Wednesdays” (also posted to my Instagram) in March 2018 to keep my non-work-related creative juices flowing and to challenge myself to find inspiration in a seemingly ordinary day.
*You can find the rest of my Word Wednesdays (after the 1/15/20 post) on my main Instagram account and even more poetry on my poetry-specific account, @sb.poet.*
The little girl
who used to color
outside the lines
in bold strokes just because,
plot adventures to faraway
lands with imaginary friends,
and laugh as ice cream cones
melted onto her sticky hands,
is looking up at you smiling
through crooked teeth
in awe of the you
you are now.
And I swear
That in the black of night
When the mighty trees
Bow graciously to the wind
You can hear my thoughts
Galloping around like stallions
Gone mad with freedom.
Then the sun comes up
And time sets in
And I realize that
Without a little bit of wild
I would not dare to dream.
Even in your darkest days,
know that shadows
cannot exist without
streams of light.
Know that dawn
is on its way.
Halfway between where you are
and where you want to be
is the beauty of reflection
and the fever of ambition.
Stop to give your feet a rest
and to admire the prints
left behind before you burn up
trying to out-run time.
When the dust settles
and your eyes begin to see
look closely at her frame
and her head held high
because even in the dungeon
of night, overcome by darkness,
her crown (that was always there,
just hidden before) will gleam,
her wings will spread wide,
and she’ll fly her way
Sometimes my skin
Doesn’t feel like my skin.
It’s an itchy wool sweater
Or stockings stretched too thin
Or peeling wallpaper
Fragile to the touch.
But then I remember
My heart is still my heart
My hands are still my hands
And my dreams,
If I stand just so,
Rise up onto my flesh
Like freckles after sun.
Do not be fooled
by her humble frame
for in the thick of it
she’ll reveal her wings.
A mind fogged by bitterness,
And cheeks checkered with tears
Do not make for a weak heart.
They make for stronger bones
I once loved someone
Who was territory dark and unknown
Yet a beautiful risk
If you took the plunge,
Like that first bike ride
Without training wheels.
So despite the tumbles,
Despite bandage-covered scraped knees,
The road we rode
Was the stuff of adventure
I craved most.
I was good at navigating,
Pedaled with ease
Until the thrill became danger
And the danger became my cue
To plant both feet on solid ground
After too much time lost and bruised
And journey toward familiar soil.
To walk the bumpy terrain
back into myself.
To find my way home.
Take solace in knowing
that your heart
will always be your heart
your hands are meant to hold
and your mind, your soul,
can turn the darkest
of rainfall into crystal.
If you let them.
I don’t have time for fear
and yet it stalks me
like a hungry wolf
on the hunt for prey
howling at the moon
desperate for a place
to stay in the dark.
I place a welcome mat
at the pit of my belly
and shelter the wolf
as my own until
I’m done being
the flesh and bone
it feasts on most.
I can’t see into the future
But my hopes are
For you to smile
In the quiet moments
When no one’s nearby
Knowing that bits and pieces
Of your dreams prop you up
On your forward-moving feet
Like the heels of stilettos
And that the love you feel
For those tucked in your heart
Is the love you
Whisper to yourself
On the coldest nights
In the gentlest way.
You planted seeds in the soil of my soul
when I wasn’t looking,
and with all the tears I cried over you,
they grew into buds, then flowers in full bloom.
It’s hard to get rid of flowers.
They look so beautiful in sunlight and so helpless in rain,
and I didn’t want to rid them from the earth like weeds.
So I left them, telling myself their beauty was everything
until one day, long after I’d rid myself of you,
when I took them in my bare hands
a long exhale
through parted lips
and bursts of
laughter crisp to
Sometimes I wish to pen
small reminders to hide
beneath my pillow at night
when worries wind themselves
like cobwebs made of steel
around my mind,
Like a breeze slowly
brushing over skin,
the whole world told her
to be still
to stay gentle
to move but only
They should have known
her power came
from the wind.
If I run out of words
to breathe life into,
remind me to check
underneath the doormat
of my heart
for a silver key.
Tell me to unlock
each caged chamber
and let free
what lies within.
I search for answers
in sidewalk cracks
and when a new day
yawns its way
over the horizon,
I yearn to keep
finding myself like
time uncovers change.
If the stars were
an arm’s reach away
would you grab them
by the fistfuls
and store them
in your pockets for safekeeping?
Would you, in times of need,
take one out
in all its guiding glory
to soak up its wonder
as it glows?
Now imagine you’d do
the same for
When your light starts to dim
remember that you are like the wind:
gentle, ever changing, kind
swaying in a waltz
never quite still
a friend to those near and far
and, when it’s time,
a fucking force of nature.
Like swimming freestyle against
A current that just won’t quit
Or walking into the wind
Or an opportunity missed
when you need it most
Or Monday morning, even,
The finality of the life
we live isn’t easy to swallow.
Be here for it all.
The hardest thing about letting go
is the vacancy trailing
at your heels like black ink
But the best thing about it - truly -
is striding miles away
He told me I couldn’t
have the world
so I took the universe,
tugged with all my might,
and fastened it
around my waist
to match my high heels
made of stars.
I search for myself
in the eyes of those
who pass me by
when I should be
casting a line into
the ocean of my body
and waiting for bait
to lure me
One day I’ll write a book
About the great triumphs and tragedies
Of my first love
How the sun and the moon
Were his and my common enemies
Because time passed with him
Made me age into myself all
Too quickly and yet not fast enough.
How I was never enough
Though undeniably his sun and moon
And even, sometimes, his stars.
How my heart had to be jump-started
Too often from wars waged
By us both.
Until that day when I find the words,
I’ll leave breadcrumbs.
Your mind holds kept secrets
You have yet to uncover
But like hair turned shades
Of shining silver
It will only grow more beautiful.
Today, every day, it and you
Dear worried soul,
Don’t take on the world
Conquer it in parts
Like the rolling hills
With minds of their own,
Or winding rivers crisp
To the touch,
Or vast deserts
Barren but alive.
Pick and choose your battles
Not all are worth the fight.
When you feel too deeply,
See a million colors
In someone else’s gray,
Cry fountains as others’
Cheeks are desert dry,
It can be difficult to find the calm
Parts of love,
The parts that are peaceful,
Blissful, gentle like dawn.
Thank you for neither snuffing out
Nor adding to my fire.
Thank you, instead,
For keeping it tame.
I’m no superhero.
I get tired:
Beneath my eyes are
Dark pools of purple.
I get angry:
Above them are
Behind them lies
A mind with too many locks
And not enough keys.
But powers rest within me
No one can see
That may, one day,
Save the world.
There’s nothing too complicated
it comes and goes as it pleases
so we try to catch
it with our hands
feel it flutter against skin,
in the hopes that
if we opened our palms
and released it to the wind
They talk about the man in the moon,
how you can see him on nights
when it’s most clear
if you tilt your head just so,
but look farther into the universe
past a million gleaming diamonds
and you’ll find our fiery source of life.
You’ll find the sun.
You’ll find a woman.
I am encaged
by enraging thoughts
that come on in
tidal waves that stick —
but like honey dissolved
by a pit of hot water
or wallpaper chipped away
in long strips
there are times I can
rid them from my skin.
If I could string all my favorite
moments around my wrists
like gold bangles
they’d clank together
to the tune of wind chimes.
I hope I never run out
of arm space.
She feared she’d be forgotten
So she left words in her wake
Some bitter, others bewitching
Or hints of humanity
So you’d always find a way
If waves could speak
they’d tell stories of buried treasure
and the sun’s dying embers after dark.
To me, the language of the tides
sounds a lot like falling in love:
gentle and thrashing,
tranquil and turbulent all the same.
The sun tells me secrets
about the stars —
that sometimes they disappear
from the night sky,
borrowed by a woman
who wraps them around her
fingers as rings
so that when she goes
to shake your hand,
you’ll know exactly
what the universe feels like.
or painted the color of roses,
your lips give way
to words that matter.
or balanced on a thin four inches,
your feet will take you far
(even through the turbulence).
Whether here or there,
protect your heart
(it’s your only one)
but let it beat wild.
You’re a thorn
and a flower in bloom.
Sometimes confidence looks like
an unfinished sweater with holes
where the buttons should be
or rice paper thin to the touch.
It can be fickle and fleeting and irresponsible,
and though I like to think of it as a close friend,
someone gentle but fierce enough to lead the way,
instead, it can take shape as a villain would:
there but not there for you.
We’re in negotiation.
If life was all but a spool of thread
In lavender, crimson, or midnight black,
How would you stitch your way?
I’m not really sure what
a beautiful mess looks like
but if I could take a guess,
it’s broken glass
with a hint of pixie dust
or metallic paint splattered
on a polyester rug
or too much rain.
It’s lacing up your shoes
and letting go of a toxic soul
and getting lost more than once
until someone, somewhere,
has the guts to give you direction
or you stumble into your right mind.
It’s telling time and realizing
you’ve wasted it.
It’s showing a smile.
It’s finding your way.
Before the sun’s chromatic hues
melt into the horizon,
Before the stars freckle every
inch of the charcoal sky,
Before sleep elongates the breath
like sweet molasses,
May your lips give way
to bouts of laughter,
May the hours, long and short,
shed light on your purchase,
May you keep going
May you keep going.
There was a time long ago
when I hated the very
sight of myself in the mirror,
not for how I looked
but for who I’d become
when I stopped living for me
and started living only for someone
whose idea of love left little room
for free will and plenty
of space for himself.
That time has passed for good.
Be here now
to feel the heat in your veins
and the familiar ebb and flow
of your bated breath
as it waits for calm.
Be here now
in between what once was
and what will soon follow,
when time is weighted
but not a burden,
when the heart has a resting
place to heal.
Be here now
and stay a short while
or as long as you call it home.
My college roommate once wrote
a poem called “When the rain
washes you clean, you’ll know.”
She was right.
Sometimes we must withstand
weathering to come to our senses.
Sometimes we find the answers
at our fingertips but only after
our bare hands become pruned.
And sometimes, if not all the time,
we feel relief knowing we’re free
to persist toward brighter skies.
When I was little, my father says
I used to spread my arms out wide
throw my head back far
and declare up to the Heavens,
as if in protest,
“It’s a free country!”
I strive to always be that bold.
Home has nothing to do with
where we are
and everything to do with
the person I am when
I’m with you.
It’s no secret that the world wears
darkness on its sleeve
and underneath its cuticles
like it’s been clawing to find a way out.
But the little moments of light let our eyes adjust,
allowing us to see -
Sugar on the tip of your tongue.
A generous word.
A goodnight kiss.
Since forever I’ve wanted to tell you
your courage is no longer hard to find.
In the past it hid beneath the darkest pit of your belly,
wound around your rib cage like vines,
clung to vertebrae of your spine.
For a while now — maybe silently at first —
it’s been running through your veins,
streams of courage in flecks of gold.
Before they take their final bow
leaves turn in fall
the color of traffic cones
and candy hearts.
Distant landscapes feel inspired
forks in the road become happy
coincidences and, what was once
shrouded in sepia, gleams
vibrant and stunning and true.
Embrace the possibility within
Find your autumn moment.
To a future me:
There are things I desperately
wish to ask you
when my heart feels ten times too heavy
when I’m tired
when there’s not a cloud in the sky
yet my mind is shrouded by many.
Where are you?
How did you get there?
And what time can we meet?
Then, I pull back on the reins
grounding me to the present
in this moment,
I am enough.
Like goosebumps materializing on the skin
I felt my first love
creep up, slow and steady and considerate,
then take its paralyzing siege over me.
In that way, it was also a wildfire
or a tsunami gaining speed
or a predator on the hunt.
I’m nobody’s prey now.
Clip back my wings, she said,
and I’ll breathe fire.
Bind my wrists
and I’ll run farther than you ever could.
Leave me on the earth’s floor
and I’ll grow from its soil
better, bolder than before.
It’s hard to pick sides
when the enemy across
the battlefield is you,
wearing armor built
from insecurities hard as steel.
Steady your breath
Drop your weapons
But don’t you dare surrender.
If you look closely enough
you’ll find reminders from past versions of myself etched along my palm lines.
“Don’t let your heart bleed out upon breaking. You’re better than that.”
“Give out second chances. Use discretion.”
“Listen to others with humble ears and eyes wide open.”
“Write down silly things. Also magic.”
Like loose blouse buttons
barely hanging on by
thin thread, our doubts threaten
to fall from where we’ve
down the belly
and unravel us bare.
I’d like to keep my clothes on.
When words are hard to find
I think about strawberries
and how they house small galaxies
on the surface of their skin
or the smell of black licorice
and the precise sound eggs make
when cracked fresh against a bowl.
I recall heartbreak’s splintering pain
and the weight of expended love
against my brittle ribcage.
I try to remember the contagious laughter
of a cousin lost too soon
and the bedtime stories read to me
before the age of five.
I close my eyes and picture what my hands
may look like after a century in the sun,
study cluttered lawns and crooked homes
and the well-kept people within them.
I wait for inspiration’s humble face
and when it waves as an old friend would
I let the floodgates open,
I let her in.
When you think of life as a peach
just ripe enough that a stream
of juice, tart and full and familiar,
bursts from its swollen flesh
shimmying down to your knuckles,
forearm, the floor,
it doesn’t seem so rotten.
sink your teeth right in.
And like wolves
howling at the moon
we’re all a little lost
searching for the brave
and the hungry
to devour our fears
as dinner meat served whole,
to fill in our missing pieces
with the bones.
Everything you wished to change about me
I now wear around my neck
In a string of iridescent pearls
Delicate, unbreakable reminders
That parts of me
You planned to throw away for good
Are my most sacred, defining jewels.
Sometimes I’m the shells of sunflower seeds
Or crushed sea glass washed to shore
Sometimes I’m fruit long past ripe
Or pumpkin guts
Or a scarf unraveling from both ends
Unwanted, abandoned things
Chewed up and spit out
Wasteful and wasted
But then I sink my teeth into the earth
Hear it speak my name
And I flourish from
what was once forgotten.
If my dreams were dust
I’d let them settle
until I could no longer
see the floor
then I’d say I was wading through
who I am
who I always knew I was
who I have yet to be.
When I was young I used to cry over
woodchips in my sneakers
and loose teeth refusing to uproot
and big words that seemed to swallow me whole.
Now I shed tears over tired limbs
and time devoid of purpose
and getting caught by a tide set for
someone else’s shore.
But somewhere, on the other side
of all your troubles,
Is a sky clear of cover
Giving way to a galaxy of promise
vast and brilliant and waiting.
When your fumes are running
out for the hundredth time
More dire and ruthless than the last
Or for the first time
since you can remember
Know that every ounce of courage today
Is a recipe for a stronger tomorrow.
Loving you and me:
It goes like this
I lay the brick, align it just so,
and you fill in the mortar by hand
Where it needs to be, where it must be
To seal the gaps from those who may wish
to break these humble walls
And only sometimes you do the heavy lifting
because despite the sure
strength you lend
And the familiarity you keep
You’re the welcomed guest helping me refurbish —
I’ve built the foundation of this home.
I once described my friend as having rice paper skin
and a tendency to talk like she was trying to keep up
with her words
because they flowed with reckless abandon, expecting her to follow.
I feel it too.
The soles of my shoes may break
with how much I want to run like hell
into my feelings and away from them
simultaneously, beautifully, urgently
with no regard for what time of day it is
or who I’m with
or where I’m going.
There’s a hunger there to feel,
to dream, to exist without fear
to move and keep moving until landscapes with mountains so high
are welcomed hiking trails through marked greenery.
Somewhere within the chaos is clarity
Somewhere beneath the burden of striving to be bold is a breakthrough
all your own.
I’m not sure exactly when,
but somewhere between love and lost
I began to feel a beating sense of
determination to rid myself
of your toxicity until the blood
running through my veins
no longer seemed unwelcome.
It took a while, but shrapnel left behind
from the explosiveness of us
filtered out of me — away —
How to treat a woman:
Loving her is like clockwork.
Tell her if you mean it.
Say, also, that though she wears so many shades,
the one you admire most is the flush of pink when she smiles.
Give her your time, and she’ll spend it well.
Give her your word. Keep it.
Make her the champion of your heart, not the trophy you want others to see.
Know this: she can never truly be tamed, so run with her instead.
Words tumble out of me like they’re
running for their lives,
like they’ll die beneath the weight of my rib cage,
within the sweltering chambers of my heart.
I let them run.
Thoughts, good and bad, sprout
in the boiling pot of my mind like
popcorn kernels bursting into bloom –
each one startling even when foreseen.
I let them overflow (tears too).
It’s better this way.
Feeling the madness life provides –
that stems from fear, passion, pain,
lust, angst, love – can leave
beautiful ruins in its wake.
Let it all fester and it will spoil you from the inside.
Let it go, tame it well, and you’ll find
I used to give out my time like pennies, nickels, and dimes — easily and often.
I gave him the most. And when he told me my love didn’t amount to anything,
after all I’d spent on him, I said he could keep the change.
Love — good love — is never bought. Nor is it earned (not really).
Though sometimes it feels like it costs us plenty, good love — real love — is given and received without fee. Free of guilt. Full of promise. Fundamentally kind.
It takes time but is never time wasted.
Treat every day like the start of spring
When the world is eager and new,
When you can see your neighbor’s eyes
for the first time and the air finally feels
like a cool silk blouse against skin.
Treat every day like the start of spring
When budding flowers promise joy
and speak of hope when they bloom,
When floods of rain are welcomed friends
who quench our soil and souls for the future.
Repeat after me:
I may not be ready for what life brings, but I’m willing to rest my faith in my own two feet and my fierce (often fearful) heart and my ferociously hungry mind.
I won’t set fires in places I know won’t survive.
I may not have all the answers, but I’ll find them on the surface of the river ahead or between the cracks on canyon floors once the water has dried.
I won’t wait for moments to happen, but I’ll be patient. I will be kind.
Know yourself like you know the sky is blue,
lungs breathe life,
trees turn in fall.
Memorize what gives you purpose,
what brings you pain,
what leaves you enraged.
Write it all down,
But remember you can still surprise yourself —
Your roots are embedded but
your growth is boundless.
Like meeting an old friend for the first time in years,
there are ways you’ll change
and things you have yet to learn.
I admit that at times I’m lost.
Helpless amid waves that seem
to curl —
and laugh as they curl —
on an endless loop.
But I find comfort in knowing
that your warmth vanquishes
the storm into
mere mist and calm crests,
that your temperament thaws
the iciest of doubts threatening
to cease my travels with
their bitter, biting exterior.
And in their melted waters
I’ll continue to sail on,
away from the shore I left
towards a shared horizon kissed
by a flush of sunset sky.
Protect your heart, but remember to let it breathe
It needs free rein in order to feel.
Treat it like a prized jewel, gorgeous and giant and expensive,
but tend to it like the flower it is
(even diamonds need upkeep).
Listen to it as you would your most trusted confidante,
but know that it may not always be wise
It’ll be fickle instead.
Don’t make a habit of offering it up so easily, and when you do give it away,
remember that it still belongs to you.
It always belongs to you.
People will try to claim it as their own — let them.
Just know that when it beats for another
and another and another,
it still beats for you too.
In honor of last week’s tragic suicides: Kate Spade, Anthony Bourdain and others that went unreported — and for those who need to hear this:
If you asked me what else there’s left to live for, I’d talk about the rain
And how it can sweep you into your dreams like a wave drags sand from shore
And how it can also give you a reason to dance like no one’s watching.
I’d tell you that there’s nothing like early morning silence and the bliss of a good book or a funny memory or the crack of genuine laughter.
Or, that moment you push through — over the hill — into your run’s last mile and the minute a stranger unexpectedly shows you kindness.
I’d tell you about pizza.
And friends old and new.
I’d talk about adventure you can find almost anywhere (even when you’re not set on looking) and the smell of home no matter what shape it comes in.
And, most importantly, love.
Because though it may seem impossible to figure out,
You can hold it in your hands and protect it beneath your ribcage — and good love will always stay.
Because, whether or not you’re ready, whether or not you believe it, you’re worthy. Forever.
My first love’s life motto went like this: “Do it for the story.”
In many ways I admired everything it stood for. As a creative, I’m constantly mapping out narratives in my head, always searching for a beginning, middle, and end — and plot twists to add some flavor. I’m forever thinking up ideas, big and small, for how to live a life that’s fun and fierce, and I crave the rush of translating magic from moment to feeling to paper. It’s perfectly intoxicating.
Don’t get me wrong, you should strive to do new and interesting things, as many or few as you wish. But, if you do them just for the sake of telling others — just to prove your adventure deserves merit and recognition — you’re missing the point. Even if your memories turn into tales passed on for ages, pen them for your own sake, not the messengers’. Laugh and love and let yourself pave your character journey because it’s what you want. How you wish to live.
So, follow this rule instead: “Don’t just do it for the story. First, do it for you.”
Dress your demons in play clothes, the ones you wore growing up when you wanted to be someone you weren’t:
wide-brimmed glasses, bits of old Halloween costumes (a witch hat, angel wings, a crimson Little Mermaid wig), your grandma’s pearls, fairy dust.
Slide their feet into your mom’s high heels—the ones you only filled halfway—so you can finally outrun them.
Next, paint your demons’ cheeks with too much blush so when they do catch up with you, they’ll look like they belong in the circus and not in the nooks of your mind, between the vertebrae of your spine.
You can make a mockery of them—they’re nothing but child’s play, make-believe—and you’ll laugh in their faces without fear.
Because, as your imaginary friends from years ago once did, they’ll disperse like dandelion seeds into the wind.
“Love is a heart with open eyes.”
I wrote this in my fifth grade notebook, the one covered in purple construction paper, star stickers and doodles for days. And though everyone says love is blind, my 10-year-old self was undeniably right.
Love is not blind. It’s always watching, always wary and waiting and ready to detect trickery. Deep down, love finds the flaws in others. It notes the red flags. Whether we want it to or not, it sees the hurt, the greed, the guilt, the gore. It sees the gorgeousness of it all.
Despite what we’re told, it’s our minds that think we’ve gone senseless. That refuse to register pain, that overcomplicate. After all is said and done, our hearts know exactly what we want. It’s our heads that get so consumed, so easily confused. And can’t quite seem to see.
Dear future daughter,
It’s Tuesday. The pattern the rain makes on this bus window looks not like tears on skin, but more so like tiger stripes, which makes me think of what I wish to teach you one day.
I hope when thunder strikes you don’t tremble. Instead, I hope you match its fury with a voice so loud you never feel mute in its booming wake. I hope you see lightning and know it runs though your veins. I hope the steady rhythm of downpours drives you onward. And if it drives you mad, I hope you find courage to change course.
Never let darkened clouds frighten you into thinking the sun has left your side. Know that mighty winds are no match for a strong backbone and that, if you need to breathe, the eye of a storm is where you’ll find peace. But also know that getting caught where it’s most dangerous won’t make you weak.
Remember that monsoons won’t always bring about ruin, and that rain will not drown you. It’s meant to test your strength — and even if it weathers you down, it’ll reveal the tiger stripes you may not be able to recognize. Not yet at least.
When people ask what manipulation looks like:
There were days you made me feel like I’d ruined you.
There were days I’d ruin myself picking up the pieces.
So I left you in the ashes you claim were mine as well
to rebuild myself for the better.
And even if some of the rubble belonged to me,
my flames burn brighter for it now — and I am better.
And we’ll never choke again.
Some days it surprises me how loud my doubts can be. How cruel my mind is, even still. I want to take it — take her — by the shoulders and shake the sinister out and the sense in. Tell her “there’s no need for this” or “don’t do this to yourself” or, maybe, “bitch.”
Sometimes I think of her, these blackened thoughts, as a slip underneath a lace gown. She’s there for cautionary measure to make sure I’ve understood that I still need protecting. That I shouldn’t leave too much of myself or my dreams, too much of my flaws or my fears, exposed. She’s heavy on the skin, but she’s a piece of fabric — a thin piece I don’t need — extraneous sometimes it seems. I can do away with her, into the wind. Eventually.
I miss the days when my imagination made me a dreamer. When I thrived off play dates and playground woodchips, not off salvaged sleep. When my worth was measured by the extent of my sticker collection and ability to withstand sour candy, not by the weight of a bank statement. ⚓️
At 6 years old I wrote my very first short story about a pirate king who got lost at sea. He fought his evil brother for rule of the ship, and though they set the occasional fire, there were no casualties. They talked it out like grownups, growing mad but staying within their right minds so he could steer them home to his queen (Elizabeth, of course).
The pirate king went on glorious adventures after that — content in his pride but far from conceited — across waters he owned yet shared with others freely. Little did I know I was penning how I now wish the world could be. Should be. So I think I’ll stay there, in my naivety, for a little while at least. Or perhaps for much, much longer.
On days when my self-worth is lacking, I try to remember that the things we seek most aren’t always easily found. And once they are, they waiver. Like waves, their crests and troughs come and go. They’re fleeting even when we know them well:
Patience. Purpose. A decent cup of coffee. Sense of community. Peace in a crowded room. Quiet. A career driven by passion. A hobby that isn’t work. Time. Love. Truth. Bath water just between scalding and warm. A good book. A better narrative of your own. Buried treasure. A home away from home. A home within your home. Time, still. Al dente pasta. Love again.
They may not come quickly or last long, but they’re within reach if your hands and heart and head will it and wait — and keep searching and stay waiting.
I was the Little Mermaid twice in my life: once for Halloween in third grade, a second time when I fell for my first love. Ariel had it all: the long locks, the lasting tenacity. She found adventure in ordinary things, and her imagination knew no bounds. She was unstoppable — that is, until she gave up her voice for a chance to follow her prince.
The second time around, and with a fresh pair of legs, I let my prince lead me anywhere and everywhere. It was a whole other world out there with him. The ground on which we walked was uncharted, unfamiliar. It was a dream.
I was naively bewildered with it all, and with my voice gone, I could only say what I needed — what I wanted — through touch. With desperate hands. He liked it best that way.
Even when my voice was restored — if only for a moment — it wasn’t my own. It was that of the third grade girl who dreamt of a boy to claim her. It belonged to a stranger whose heart led her astray, whose feet followed those of a prince she could barely recognize.
It took some time. It took some searching on shaky legs over rocky shore. But I found my voice and, thereafter, my way back to the sea.
There was a time growing up when thinking about the stars and our galaxy stole my breath in the worst possible way. Space was the two things I dreaded most: it was vacant despite its occupancy and overwhelmingly unknown. 🌙
When I was 5, I flipped through the pictures in an encyclopedia on space and asked my mom why the stars near and far had to die. Even the oldest of them — the ones that seemed to live forever — burned out. It was all so infinite but, somehow, still finite. 🌙
At night, in my bed years later, I try to keep my thoughts contained because they can get lost in the void the universe creates. I try to picture the planets, all aligned, as my spine. The moon as my head. The darkness in between as my weaving hair. And so, maybe space exists just as I do: unexplainably in the present, shaping itself from the past for the future. All its parts burning out but brilliant still.
There are little hints of me in you that I can trace like freckles on skin.
They fade and stretch and blend and, after enough light,
sometimes seem to breed and breathe life into you.
We often leave them — good pieces, stubborn pieces,
pieces boring to the ordinary eye yet common sense to us —
without even noticing until we’re alone and it’s quiet and they shine.
They are small, but like the North Star, just one can keep us whole. Can lead us home.
I’ve never been one for goodbyes.
But the most sacred are offered to that which nourishes our days,
to that which aligns our waking hours
and gives us a reason to pause and exhale,
gives us the will to resume.
It reminds us that though we may be at rest, our embers still glow.
That we are most resilient when we’re kind to our beautiful minds —
because when we let them smolder into the night, we will rise all at once.
A man — a boy, really — once told me he couldn’t believe how much I’d grown into myself because of him. He said it, smug, as though he were my divine creator. Like he’d fed me and watered me and tended to my roots just to bask in his own stupid pride. “Look, I did this. She is mine. Watch her bloom.”
Now, I’m not religious, but in all the stories I’ve heard, God is never conceited. He’s neither spiteful nor cruel, never boasts about his creations. He lets them walk on their discovered paths, and though he may lead, he never imposes. Always present, never forcing his hand.
So, I turned to him, the boy — my “creator” — and smiled knowing that even if he did plant the seeds which bore my strength, I would be the one to uproot myself from his so-called fertile earth. I’d find richer land to call home. I’d find better light on my own.