Do I Dare?

Maybe summertime sadness isn’t just a line in a song. I feel it most intensely when I wake up on Sunday mornings, in a colorless, thoughtless fog, wanting to return to unconsciousness and drift through the rest of the week. Now, as summer approaches its brightly burning end, I do this with an eye toward the handful of days remaining until I return to school. Soon, Sundays will no longer signify sadness. But today does, because I am at home and something is missing. There’s no sanctification, no distinction between this day and the other six, no special family time. Everything is out of whack. I feel like a time traveler from the 1930s who ended up here and is standing, shocked, at the world’s sheer indifference to the states of their souls. No matter how long and hard I stare, though, I can’t seem to make the people around me care. I’ve tried and tried, and the only thing I trust that will help them is prayer.

Being human, and despite my desire not to, I fear, or get nervous about, many things. That I’m actually sabotaging my relationships and attempts at happiness. That I’m not following God’s will for my life, that I’m not strong enough to do so. That I’ll be alone for all my life. That I’ll never get to see my favorite bands in concert. That I just have so many ideas scattered around my head that I’ll never get to see them all through, or even organize them into a list with which to start. Sometimes I even feel guilty about writing, despite the fact that it might be the only thing at which I might have a reasonable amount of talent. What if I’ve been spending all these hours, all this energy typing away for nothing? What if no one ever reads a word of anything I’ve written?

T.S. Eliot famously asked in his well-known poem “The Love Song of J. Alfred Prufrock”, “Do I dare/disturb the universe?/in a minute there is time/for decisions and revisions which a minute will reverse.” I’ve had moments where I question my motivations and wonder if I really should say the thing that weighs on me. Is it worth the disaster that will follow? In those moments I do believe, faced with my own inadequacy, that “I should have been a pair of ragged claws/Scuttling across the floors of silent seas.”

Part of why poetry is so beautiful is its universal power. It is easy to live in our heads like Prufrock and assume that nothing we could say, however important the revelation, is worth the risk of rejection. It is easy to say that we are insignificant. Nothing we could ever do would matter. Yes, we are physically insignificant when we think about the universe. We are tiny next to the ocean and the mountains, dangerously unpredictable compared to the change of the seasons and each sunrise and sunset, imperfect next to the rhythm of nature.

But perhaps everything we do is spiritually paramount. Like flicking a finger into water, causing ripples that get larger until we can’t see them, so each action, each smile, each kind word, each prayer, darts around like a ball in a pinball machine and strikes the next obstacle. With each breath, each word, we disturb the universe, the status quo. And perhaps, even more than the risk of rejection, I fear never disturbing the universe at all. I fear never meaning more to another soul than that one girl they knew a long time ago. I fear never provoking a thought, or moving someone. I fear that I will not disturb the way things are.

So I guess I dare, with each breath.

“Moving On”

You must make new memories

In that dress (the one in which you cried,

the one in which your bones shook as you

stood, watching – sweating, unbelieving, stomach sinking –

his hands on her, she where you should be),

the one you hid in the closet,

Smiling memories so bright that you forget why

You have to ask yourself at the end of the night

Why you never wore it again after that one time.

It looks good on you.

Fighter

You’re always on to the next crusade

with your eternal frown and sword raised

The only cross you bear is

painted in my blood and sweat, bright red on your chest

You had to do things your way

Now we’ll never see the light of day

 

You gagged me with your lies

until my voice wouldn’t come out when I opened my mouth.

Now the game is over, I have no defense.

“Play the charade,” you said.

“It won’t matter in the end.”

 

Revenge and karma are sisters from two different fathers.

Dust & Diamonds

Every water-drop is

a mirror, a reflection, a miniature echo

of the sea or of the spring from which it was birthed,

so clear that if poked it would burst.

 

So are we also echoes and mirrors

of surrounding voices and familiar faces,

Ashes & dust brushed down from the heavens

on a tail of a shooting star

 

Diamonds too were once only coal

Everything, including us, once dust

We take care not to damage the diamond

once it is out of the mine,

but what do we do with us?

 

Published in the Spring 2016 edition of Stonehill’s Cairn magazine. 

Silent No More

I have swallowed myself to make more room for you.

But you do not retreat. You spread out more. You cover the floor.

And no longer notice me, pressed into a corner

Up against the wall.

Winning the quiet game.

 

I left my dream in an imposing imperial bar

Across the sea.

If you happen to sit on it, please don’t try to give it back to me.

Take it for yourself. Learn from me.

Wander those streets. Tell me all about it.

We are no longer strangers.

 

Sometimes it takes going halfway around the world

To shed the skin you’ve grown for society’s sake

And shock yourself into a new kind of heartbreak.

 

I am not who I want to be.

My soul is a work in progress towards my destiny.