Fragments

silhouette photography of woman in front of wheat plants

Photo by Ryan Holloway

The first memory is that of Post-it notes.
I can clearly see them in my head,
lying in the organizer on my desk.
I need them to make a list of immediate things to do —
administrative details that I normally avoid:
documents, signatures, people —
and to add a little note reminding myself to be brave.

The desk in question is half the world away.
So, the second memory is that of processing distances,
in metrics not of kilometers or miles,
but of time and money and forms and embassies.

I keep my memories hugged tightly to my chest,
hesitant to let new seeds fall into this new earth
and become saplings whose roots may one day tug at my heart.
I cannot let that happen, I decide.
There is only so much space in my heart,
to call a place home.

For weeks, I refuse to furnish the bare walls,
adding only what is absolutely essential.
Three months in and I am distressed to find
that the room has taken on a personality nevertheless,
reflecting the little clutter of my hopes, some of my quietness.
I let it continue though — even aid it a little,
adding a touch of greenery,
a touch of motivation,
plain sheets tacked onto plainer walls.

What I have walked into is tangible,
something significant,
an important chapter that will need to be in the book of life.
Because this, no matter how confusing I find it to accept,
is happening.
Milestones are duly being passed,
my own speed perhaps not matching.

I am being pulled in different directions,
engulfed by a nostalgia,
not for the past,
but for a future I would not live.
I wonder if I will ever unpack without mentally tracking what will need to be packed again.
I wonder if it is possible to be whole again,
to consolidate the bits of myself that have scattered in different places,
that are scattering still,
like confetti of celebrations,
or perhaps, like ashes of what I gave up.

The Muse

sun flower field

Photo by Daniel Bernard

Depression taught me about words,
And allowed me to find light in the lines
Slanting across pages
Of old diaries, and loose sheets
Crumpled in corners of drawers.

Standing at the cusp
Between light and dark,
I looked back at empty rooms,
Light streaming softly through the crack between the curtains.
In front of me,
An open field,
Sunlight showering.

I wondered if pens and parchment could be really found in the light.
I wondered if it mattered.

The Feast

I have not stopped eating
Since the day I knew
That I will come to see you.
I wouldn’t want you
To walk away unsatisfied.

I am marinating,
Soaking my bland truths,
In the simmering sauce
Of unceasing conversationality,
That flavor of extroversion
Which is so appealing to your guts;
Digests better, doesn’t it?

I hope the messy tangles
Of my life experiences
Don’t get stuck in your teeth;
I will bring you a toothpick,
Just in case.
A glass of cool indifference
With which you can wash down
The bitter aftertaste of my unaccomplished dreams.

Don’t worry your mind
With remorse or conscience.
You bear no responsibility, after all
That I have put you on this pedestal,
That I have offered myself up.

Feel free to make judgments.
Compare me to the fried;
All smoke and no substance,
The unwholesome, the untruthful.
I won’t blame you
For not putting me in a class apart.

Take a look from all directions.
I know, in this instagram-savvy world,
It’s just the presentation that matters.
Have no restraints, no politeness.
Your crass touch won’t dirty me,
What right does an object have to feel degraded, anyway.

Savor each bite,
As you take away chunks of my hope.
Strip away the skin of dignity,
By forcing me to smile.
Spit out my pride, raw and uncooked,
That bone of righteousness has no place in this recipe.
Dig into my flesh and salt my wounds,
Turn me into that which pleases your tongue.

Bon Appetit!

Metamorphosis

A meadow full of yellow buttercup flowers in full bloom

Photo by Tim Mossholder

I like yellow flowers.

I realize how much has changed;
How the stars appear brighter.
I am wary of the light sometimes.

I remember its deceptiveness.

I catch myself smiling
with a lightness and innocence,
Untouched.
Daydreaming.

As though I did not emerge
gasping for breath
only to submerge again.
And again. And again.

I chide the part of me that smiles,
child-like. I remind her
of happiness that is hard earned;
I tell her to not spend it all at once.

To save some
For nights that are darker
For mornings that are colder
For roads when she finds — I find myself alone.

I tell her to wrap up her smiles
In cotton wool,
To ration out her joy in bits and pieces
A little here and there, wisely.

She laughs loudly — audaciously.
And it sounds like cowbells
On a warm afternoon in the meadow.

She blows bubbles in the bath
And makes smileys on the fogged mirror.
I stand besides her
Trying to protect her from herself.

Someone has to maintain the archives of memories.

But her happiness is absolute
She wants no part of the carefulness.
I hesitate a little, and indulge
Into a smile like sunshine sometimes.
I still like yellow flowers.

Penance

When they skinned me alive,
I was afraid, very afraid.
For I knew my crimes were not merely skin-deep.
And when they pelted me with stones,
A chill crept into my heart.
For I knew I could not atone my sins with broken bones.
But when they reached deep inside
And pulled out that one tiny shard to crush,
A sliver of hope, that sustained my life,
I gave a weak laugh, giddy with relief.
For there could be no more;
The Lords of Karma had crossed that line.
There would be no more punishment
Without violating the very laws that they held so sacred.
I reached out and took it back;
That tiny shard of an already broken whole.
“No more punishment”, I repeated to myself,
A statement and a promise at the same time,
For I had reached, at last, the end of my penance.