Life on the Shore

These waters are hungry, and I’m hungry

To eat would be to drown

So I thrash in hopes of dry land

It’s hard to see through stinging eyes and I send an arm flailing forth

I gulp the waters hoping for sweetness

But all I taste is the salt

My belly made sick, filled with brackish bile

And I can’t feel it with all this water in my head

A message in a bottle says to let myself sink

So I feed myself and I’m washed to shore

 

Grounded on the earth, life greets me as I am

There are feasts to eat and there is sweet air to breathe

Mountains wait beneath a holy sky and call me to build fires along the way

Rough sands offer grit and a pride that’s earned

But the waves echo with promises to wash me clean

I feel the cold mist of those waters nipping at my throat

And the prickling terror of looking down at what is

Memories of a body submerged numb my skin and beguile me with a fantasy

The water will be warmer this time around

Illusions of beauty entrance me and the waves beckon in the distance

But I don’t follow that siren song

I feed myself and I say a prayer

 

Here on the shore, I let my lungs fill

And slowly I let my belly do the same

Still, the waves follow

I hear them roar in my ears and feel their crashes in my chest

Screaming to fill me up and hide me from the light where I must stand and be seen

But now I can be still and I can listen when God whispers

That those waves are dark, but their waters are shallow

Depth lies here on the land

It’s buried in places I didn’t know to look

Waiting for humble hands and a faith strong enough to dig

And I can see it now

So I feed myself and I begin

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big empty

I’m sitting here having a conversation with a man in my head, explaining to him why I haven’t been writing  (because I’m afraid that he might perceive my over availability as a lack of ambition, which may be true). And I’m hoping to god that I have these conversations with men in my head just as a simple way to work things out for my self . The man is just a stand-in for my self, and removing said man from this whole scenario will not require all that much work. It just means I need to focus more on me and less on men, as a lot of women do. However, I fear that maybe I am not that deep and that the man is not actually a stand-in for my self. Instead, he really is the only reason I have these thoughts, that there is no self and I do not have any real thoughts on my own. Maybe I am like a quantum particle, only existing here when I’m being observed.

The Night That Didn’t Exist

I was on my way to work when it hit me—the smell of nighttime summer air that sometimes slips unexpectedly into February on the east coast. It smells like hope and nostalgia and tends to make folks feel giddy. It came through the civic windows somewhere on interstate 40 and mixed with my anger to produce a drunken sort of elation. It was the kind of fed-up-with-this-shit feeling you finally reach after a long stretch of uncomfortably swallowing little annoyances. It feels good to be certain about anything in life and there’s something particularly freeing about being fucking done with something…or someone. I was realizing I had options.

In the weeks leading up to this, I had almost consciously kept my focus as narrow as possible to avoid feelings of regret for giving up my cheap one bedroom and moving into a house with two friends and their three dogs. I thought it would be good for me to not be alone, but I had become disgusted by my friend’s laziness and her crazy mood swings. I felt smothered living in a house that wasn’t my own and pretending not to be bothered by her neediness and her self-appointed authority. I had to get out and I was more than willing to burn bridges to do it.

I had moved so I could get away from the man I felt was using me, the ex I couldn’t stay away from. I had been drowning once more in the abyss of his past, his love lost, trying desperately to put together the pieces for him so he could see what I saw, the lies I was certain she had fed him. One night a bit of alcohol passed my lips and opened them up to him. We were in my living room, I had called him over late. I told him what I had found, who I had spoken with, and what they had said about her. I could feel the hot panic sweep through his body, his heart pounding as he sat next to me on the couch. I knew he was feeling that same painful rush of adrenaline and sickness that I felt almost a year before when I had found conversations between the two of them. I felt grateful for the alcohol in my blood and the numbness that allowed me to feel only slight curiosity when he insisted again and again on her purity. But I knew I had shaken him. 

Over the next few days, I tried to help him fit the rest of the pieces together, practically handed him the directions. And what was so maddening was that he simply refused to do a thing. For the 19 months we had known each other, he had sworn he would get to the bottom of what she had done. I had searched for her wrongdoings but found instead what should have been better: a door. Behind it lay the answer, without context but plain as day. I handed him the key. He just put it in his pocket and walked away. Told me again how we could never be together because of her. Told me he couldn’t see himself with anyone for a long time. He expected me to swallow this rejection for the hundredth time, to act as if I didn’t mind and to carry on fucking him while he kept me at arm’s length.

So I moved, and for five weeks I ignored his existence. I told him not to call and I knew he would listen. I knew it was what I had to do but it felt so wrong. I was lonely and always crying in my car, grateful for any good thing in the day that reminded me how much bigger life should be than this. But not having him around felt like I was suffocating.  I told myself that it was okay for it to feel wrong, that I just wasn’t used to being away from him and time would fix things. I told myself it was necessary, that I would come out the other side eventually, but I guess I just couldn’t wait. 

That night in February, I got gas and bought a pack of cigarettes and a lighter. I didn’t go to work, I went to a bar, giddy to choose the beer that would break the camel’s back. I hadn’t had a drink in weeks and I had no reservations about breaking my dry spell in dramatic fashion. There’s something that feels empowering about self-destruction. I was tired of telling myself “no” and being so responsible only to have my efforts amount to what felt like a sub-par existence. I was living what I felt was a dull life, the kind that makes you feel kind of okay with dying. I just couldn’t stand it anymore when relief was at my fingertips. How the fuck was I supposed to say no? I drank my beer and texted him to meet me. He was free, as he usually was, and he was on his way. I breathed for the first time in five weeks.

Part of the allure was knowing exactly how things would unfold, I was cocksure and riding high on it. I knew the way he’d look at me, I knew how he’d act, I knew what I could get away with, I knew what we’d do and I knew the feeling I’d have all night. As we sat out on the bar’s patio, I let myself enjoy the power my drunken certainty wielded. With a swaggering grin and a drag on my cigarette, I informed him that the night was to be entirely without rules. He just kind of smiled, shook his head and said: “the night that doesn’t exist”. Yes, that was it exactly.  

We talked about this and that, I bemoaned my roommate and enjoyed the relief it brought to admit my mistake in moving. I soaked in the anticipation of us fucking as I watched him across the metal patio table, flicking my ash and letting my desire burn through my eyes and into him. I felt in control when I knew he couldn’t resist me. Buzzing hard on our chemistry and alcohol, I went into the bar’s bathroom and noticed a small baggie sitting in front of the toilet. Oh, how fun this was all starting to get! I hesitated for a moment, thought maybe I shouldn’t do coke I found on the bathroom floor, but fuck it. That man is bulletproof, and I’m bulletproof when I’m with him. The night didn’t exist and I wasn’t done with it just yet.

We sat at his dining room table while he cut it up. I looked out the window into the backyard and felt myself prematurely reminiscing about the moment I was living in. The feeling was dark and beautiful and somehow familiar, and a longing swelled inside my chest, yearning for what was right in front of me. I did a bump and crawled into his lap, let the dopamine flood my brain with more pleasure than I had felt in months. I knew this wouldn’t happen again, that the world would come to wake me in a few short hours and I would have only the memory. We weren’t really the type of people to do coke at the dining room table, but in a strange way we also were, and in that moment I couldn’t have loved us more.

Riding to my car the next morning in the back of a cab, I secretly watched the video we had made. I blushed as I watched the way he grabbed me by my hair, still feeling a bit devilish but slowly resigning myself to the hangover. I had failed yet another attempt at an alternative life, I had cracked my heart back open. I sat back with my head against the window and felt the familiar hum of the looming pain and the relief of giving up. It was all I knew.

fetal

The sadist of my mind has been replaced by your voice. Soft, furtive lashings of the tongue and contemptuous glances have crept insidiously into my skin and paralyzed me in a turmoil I cannot escape. This affliction has left me tortured, for while my nature rebels against it, the shame that it brings leaves me spiritless in the prelude of what may be my awakening. I take defiant solace in the hope for music beneath the roar of insult, but the recognition of this hubris leads me further into shame. I have become so mired in the faults of my mind that I cannot enjoy its gifts.

futility

she was your star, and around her we both spun

you as the earth to her fire

and me as the lonely moon, tugging at the waves inside you

when you turned your back to me, I wept in the cold of your shadow

for she alone held your light

now that she’s gone, we stay cold together

fumbling in the dark over wreckage we can’t forget

struggling to find light in the deadness

hell season

Maybe I put too much blame on you. Maybe the blame should be on the circumstances, hell, maybe the blame should be on me. I’m the one who keeps coming back for it. Maybe it’s not for the love, maybe it’s because something inside of me needed this. The insecurities that have long since turned to hate have shamed me. Again and again, I’ve run from this pain only to return upon a whirlwind of fantasy and find myself on my knees, a fire before me. Embers burn and glow in my eyes and I am transfixed by this fire you cannot see. The sense of desperation you impart beckons me into the flames if only I could be brave enough to burn.

Well, maybe this is hell season. Maybe there was just no other way for me. Maybe if your love was easy, if there was no struggle for your affections I would be in blissful ignorance resting upon the laurels that soothe me with the fallacy that I am enough. Maybe that security would have stunted me, made me soft. Maybe I’m sick for coming back to this place that makes me hate myself, but here I am in the fucking fire and I’m getting real comfortable now. I don’t know how long this will take but I’m starting to like it. The shame has burned away and the fire rages farther inside forging steel guts and thick skin slick with vim. Am I worthy now? Don’t answer, I’m not done here. If I needed to burn like this, then you were well worth the pain but it doesn’t mean I have to thank you for it.

The Leaving (Pt 2)

Sadness creeps in at the end of each day and I’ve got nothing and no one to save me. Can’t even rely on the self-pity that comes with mourning your give-a-fucks for me because I’ve known for a while now that you’re all out. Or maybe you never had them to begin with. Is the chair that sits next to me too uncomfortable for you?

You’re tired and time will just make you more tired. You’re tired of me being sad, I know you won’t come around when I feel crazy. There’s no more room for me to be anything but a delight, a pleasure. There’s no room for my darkness, no room for me to mess up and no shoulder to cry on.

You listen but you keep me at arm’s distance. I don’t know how to inhabit this space. It makes me hate you and it makes me hate myself. But when I leave you accuse me of not caring. You can’t see that I’m just trying to live somewhere that doesn’t hurt so much.

I’m alone. But maybe that’s what I need after all this time.