it’s not the dying that’s so hard – but this incessant surrendering o a life you’d expected to beat. against the odds we made it. drenched and exhausted on some metaphorical shore on an island of nothing. we made it. thank fucking god you were there too! otherwise i would have swam back out to the sharks. just said “eat me, cruelties, i’m through.” But you were there – reminding me we made it – then this. another round of chemo or fires or loss – grief like a beggar lady we’ve simply let move in. charming as the crazy and the sullen and the gone. when i first met you we had longing by the balls – and we dared to cultivate everything – desire, freedom, innocence – loss. buried underneath honesty – all of it true. now this. my awakening is thick like maple syrup and dark like greed. borrowing Medusa’s eyes i sank the ship. and again you save me.
sometimes staying in bed or just disappearing feels like a better option than one more pull on the bootstrap or half-hearted acknowledgement of just how silver the lining really is. we are tired. it does not seem fair that while children are starving simply because they are not our own and people around us are ailing and dying simply because its “part of being alive” – that we should have to also put up with some hack job politic or crumby job or even a hurt of our own. we are really that tired. i’m hoping it will be okay someday for you to tell me how broken you are and for me to just hold you without trying to fix you or telling you how fortunate you really are. and i am hoping that once we have all admitted we are worn to the bone by all this busy-ness of being alive we can go back to feeding people simply because they are hungry and caring for people simply because they are ill. i’m not sure there is much more to figure out than that. maybe feeding and caring would be enough to change the world.
i wanted to bring you flowers -
lift the scent of jasmine out of the air
or carry the wind with me -
to where you were hiding,
under the sleep-strained sheets
and the empty bottles -
to before pills and drink and men
could destroy you.
but you won't answer the phone
or the door
or the possibility of things being different -
because, you say,
there is no hope -
inside these dark hours -
these endless moments of grief -
this constant feeling of loss.
i say i have been there -
have run full bore into the darkness myself -
trying to get there
before it could come get me.
how i have buried myself also -
under the impenetrable longing and the shame -
and the elusive promise of forgetting.
you still think i couldn't possibly understand,
that no one can possibly understand.
but we do. So many of us truly do.
i once held the hand of a beautiful woman
while she pushed a baby out of her body
into the world.
Two years later, I held that baby
while we buried her beautiful mother
into the earth.
She'd been found dead -
kicked to death
in a crack house
just outside of town.
She was one of us -
someone with dreams and fears and love and concern -
a lifetime of new beginnings and loss.
And it started with just one little pill.
When i call you -
which i will do -
again and again and again
until you answer,
because i recognize that you are ill
and not just a pain in the ass -
i will say
come outside and smell the wind,
watch the morning unfurl with me -
see how it just opens up quietly
into the darkness instead of against it -
until all signs of night are simply gone.
and look how we are standing here alone -
just you and me -
and also a million other people
inside their houses and their cars
under their bridges and in alleys and parks.
All of us watching the light open up -
wondering how we will do it.
what we will choose -
while there is still a choice to be made.