You think you know someone, and then here is a whole other person.
One possibility, when it comes to telling what is commonly called one’s “own” story, is to take one’s own memory out entirely, and is to limit yourself to the favorite anecdotes of family members. A person can create childhood memories based entirely on the number of times a given story has been told.
Parents can be especially amusing sources of these tales. The time you had your mother, eight months pregnant with your sister, just up three flights to the third-floor apartment with the laundry, go back to the basement to retrieve your imaginary friend. Another time you were in hysterics because your father sat on that same friend.
How you cried when the street sweeping truck came by, the horrible beep-beep truck, you called it. And there was that redheaded boy, do you remember? He would push you down, take your shovel, walk away, and you would sit there, not wailing, just quietly sad.
And the gravy! How you loved it with croutons from a box. Your concerns over the new baby, over your mother getting up and down the stairs. Your favorite hiding place behind the couch. How you could speak nonstop or not at all.
Huh, I think, remembering by power of suggestion what it would never have occurred to me to know on my own. You think you know someone, and then here is a whole other person. The fact that there were even specific moments to remember is what really gets me. I recall only a constant susurration of light and color, sound and touch. It lends credence to the idea that a person may have parallel simultaneous lives: the one they remembered, and the one I felt I was living. They have images, even pictures, and there I am, and it must have been me in that bowl haircut with those eyes looking back, holding the garden hose, but all I remember is the colors of light filtering through shallow water, and the way I would fly in my dreams. Palms and fingers in bright paint, and the hollow space among bushes in the back yard. How I would go in and wait there. The sense that I had of finding a secret, tiny room in an endless forever, and it was quiet all around, and safe except for the possibility of snakes and other monsters I had not seen except on TV and in books.
Funny, the pictures they show. This is what is, this is what was. They shaped me then, as they do still, these stills. But the image I had was constant, and I wasn’t in it because there was me watching, squinting sometimes, as I took in was the shifting light and colors on the surface of an ever-moving stream, wondering about the world just beneath it.
You could feel it, the way no one could help themselves, the way we were laid bare in our reaching wonder.
Here’s an idea: consider something you used to do often. Or be. Trace a line of relevance to the moment.
Once I was a runner. Once titled, there were days when I would put off beginning, and it would take me until late afternoon just to put on my shoes. Then there were also moments near sunset, and into twilight, when I could not bear to stop. I knew there was a risk of injury; I knew that these would come later, and they did, but in those extra dusk miles: five, ten, fifteen, I would feel the potential forevers in each stride, and all I wanted to do — all I had ever and would ever want to do, it seemed then as much as now — is keep reaching. The difference between running and walking is the liftoff. In a walk, one foot remains always on the ground. But in a run, there is this moment– and it gets shorter and shorter as age advances and pace slows — when neither touches. There was something about that moment, how quick it would come and go, that invited repetition, as if with enough practice, it was possible to leave entirely, and float somewhere just beyond gravity’s reach.
I am no longer a runner, just a lady who runs on days when this is scheduled––jogs, even, an observer might say. There’s nothing loaded about it, just exercise. But the reaching part, that doesn’t leave. I thought of this as we walked and ran among the streams and streams of other pilgrims, up the long hill, to see the big sky. How we waited for the telescope. Is it time? Is that it? What is that? The faces, bathed in dusk light, everyone looking, pointing. You could feel it, the way no one could help themselves, the way we were laid bare in our reaching wonder.
We looked and looked. It went on. Gravity holding us where we stood, tethering the moon in its orbit. There was Venus, and was that Mars or a satellite? It was our eyes we looked with, and of course whatever we could find for looking through. But it was something else doing the reaching, as it always was. She was now my height but once she had held her arms up and the fingertips of her widespread hands did not reach past my legs, singing out, “Up! Up!”
Real life, unadulterated, is an endless stream. A story is something else by necessity, a constructed thing.
I’m thinking about stories this week, because I am in the phase where I am generating energy and dreaming into new ones. I know I’ll be leaping before I have answers, because that’s the only way a project can start to emerge and start answering. That said, I’m in all the questions now.
Today I am wondering about memory and how someone, I can’t remember who, called it the first fiction. Also, how many have said, of fiction, that the best of it is “more true than real life.” A paradox, of course, but a useful one. Real life, unadulterated, is an endless stream. A story is something else by necessity, a constructed thing. An artifice, some would say, as if to minimize. Perhaps, I think, but then again, the shelters we build to live in may also be considered artificial and I wouldn’t want to do without these in the name of being real.
If the best of fiction is truer than true, and its building materials essentially invented or borrowed from the wilds called “real,” one might imagine that the most authentic parts of a person are those falling outside most given collections of facts, and these in turn will tend to vary, depending on the source and the context. Others have observed that truth may in fact be something that can only be known via collective effort. When the facts in one context overlap with the experience in another, and another, and another, then we have what we can call true. Maybe great fiction does this, by layering perspectives and viewpoints in deliberate ways in a concentrated space. And of course, by leaving out a great deal of the noise and extraneous events. But are any events extraneous, really? I mean, of course they must be, to the story. But which ones? I obsess on this question.
Many a writer has been taken to trial for altering facts. If you do this in a million little ways, as with any catalogue of events gathered through a given lens, it is expected; even invisible. But one big way is out of bounds, except when consciously indicated. And yet, a conscious mind, consciously growing, seems to be always trespassing its previous borders.
Some call storytelling the most natural thing we do, and while I can believe this, I take issue with those who would equate natural with easy. As of course it may be, sometimes, as with breathing––until it isn’t; as with laughing––until it isn’t. Death is quite natural, although we generally understand the term “unnatural death.” Childbirth is perhaps quintessentially natural, and it is a loaded matter of life and death, aside from being an historically deadly event for many women. Perhaps what is most natural for humans is not at all what comes most easily and reliably, but what reminds us we are walking always along a precipice between life and death.
Everyone has their obsessions, and this is one of mine. It’s kin to other obsessions: who and what gets to matter? Who and what gets to feature? I can’t help these wonderings as I am always thinking about who and what gets conventionally erased by dominant conventions of storytelling and seeing. No doubt some of this includes the parts of ourselves that we have consciously or unconsciously erased or let go, in the making of a given kind of sense. I expect to continue wondering about this.
Has the light turned yet? is a good question to answer before moving across a road, but these are not that sort of question. I could spin in them endlessly and wind up totally paralyzed, which would serve no one well. Still, they are worth pausing before, as one might before some sacred relic or holy place, to revisit the mystery.
Those needing shelter. Those who know to offer it when needed, even when they don’t know how. Those hiding scars and recent wounds, and those who know how to recognize the wounded, everywhere.
Who is this for?
Those who have known the anguish of caring, and the terror of an all-consuming love. Who have sometimes been terrified by the range and volume of other emotions, identified as harbored within themselves, ready to erupt.
Who have been moved near weeping on occasion, at the flow of a good pen, or at the way that someone had the patience to slice grapes, one by one, in tiny circles and half-moons, for folding into a family-style dinner salad, offered to strangers. Who need art with a hunger often sharper than the need for food. Who don’t understand how anyone can find any level of emotional display actually shocking, because even if they practice restraint fastidiously, with the faith of an earnest devotee, they know how close they are, at any moment, to losing it all.
Who cry in witness to beauty, with the sheer relief of finding someone who cares enough to look long and hard, taking it in, who even in the satisfaction of some total consummation with divinity, chooses not to stop in the afterglow, but returns to the ache, caring enough to look long and hard–– to offer it back up, all of it, to anyone looking.
People who can remember or imagine a circus tent on fire, and the terror of the blocked entrance. Those who look at the exit signs long and often, and also at the sky.
People who lose things: cats, dogs, loves, ideas, directions, the name of the song they are always almost having, on the tips of their ever-licking tongues. People who find things, too. Especially broken and lost bits of others, waiting on the ground underfoot.
Those who hold babies. Those who avoid holding the offered babies, for fear that the heart will shatter too loudly. The babies and the former babes––and the very old, so close to death that nothing but the wide lens will do. Or the magnifying glass, to study the favorite wrinkles fanning out, like bird wings spreading around the corner of beloved eyes.
Those needing shelter. Those who know to offer it when needed, even when they don’t know how. Those hiding scars and recent wounds, and those who know how to recognize the wounded, everywhere. Anyone familiar with the sense of their own eyes floating behind them, up and over like a kite, looking down.
Who know the ache of hearing a musical phrase so expansive, familiar, and hauntingly rich that they want to climb inside and live in its space until time evaporates.
As I began to understand that there would be no end to the list, and no reason to work towards one, I decided to pause, with an intention to revisit it from time to time, as with certain records, occasional prayers, and pilgrimages, as a reminder back to some original impulse for finding shelter in a strange land.
For those creatures, large and microscopic, that scientists once thought extinct, then found again.
Who is this for? The question was preoccupying. The list got longer. Those who occasionally get a sense of wonder at the idea that there are parts of themselves and others emerging and about to emerge that neither they nor any others can begin to imagine, which will only be known when they are in full bloom; and which may even then, remain unknown, like those flowers that bloom only one night a year.
Who think it is worth something to protect the barely-emerged parts, the hopes not yet breathed, the tiny flames prone to being extinguished in wind.
There was a man walking along a sidewalk in the rain the other day. He had white hair, large white sneakers, a nice-looking windbreaker, khakis, a neat haircut––and a plastic freezer bag sitting on his head, perched like the cap of a fast-food uniform. I saw him and celebrated, “This guy!”
People who sometimes have moments of delight or sudden heartache passing strangers, who sometimes can’t keep from imagining stories about customers if they are working at a register, or about the person at the register when they are passing as a customer. Who look at the hands with the card or the change, who make constant note of the details of hands: their tiny scars, their tremors, their bitten fingernails, their rings, and the homemade bracelets peeking out of the cuffs of dress shirts.
Who have noticed how an overwhelming sense of vividness at the shimmering parts of being, everywhere, may sometimes live just beside a sense that some deadly danger, creeping through it, is precisely the thing that no one is naming aloud.
Who have loved or imagined loving the feel of a costume, and face paint. Of cardboard-sword play and fairy wands; double-dutch and baseball cards, and the magical arrival of an ice cream truck. Who have watched a mother cooking, and wondered about her silences at the stove. Who have watched a father, sitting, at the end of the day, and felt something coiled behind his tired eyes, as though preparing to spring.
For those who are reluctant to embrace the workplace trend of replacing one’s actual face with a bitmoji version of one’s face, for reasons that one can only vaguely (and not without discomfort) relate to the aversion reported by those chronicling certain native tribes, to photographs in general, those strange, not-quite-human, human-seeming likenesses which appear as a theft of one’s actual face––and with it, the connected soul.
Who believed at some point or another, that they might do something more than what their mind was generally asked to do, although they could not say exactly what.
For those creatures, large and microscopic, that scientists once thought extinct, then found again. For the last surviving member of a species, still singing, even when no living mate exists. For the ones just discovered in the deep. For the ones not yet discovered, still so far away.
For those employees of institutions that require large-group meetings, who noticed in the last year, that they often had to turn off their cameras when no longer able to maintain composure in Zoom meetings because Bossman was so funny when not trying to be, whenever he delivered a motivational speech on some Thing of Great Import.
Who find the world very loud sometimes, who want to vomit at the sound of a leaf blower, and who also want to laugh wildly or break into song in places that are eerily quiet, like medical waiting rooms.
Who were disappointed that the first love interest did not propose becoming an item by breaking into song, followed by a chorus of friends, inviting the respondent to reply in song, also a with chorus of friends.
Who experience the world alternately as a series of swords against raw flesh, and as a shimmering wonderland, endlessly remaking its patterns and purposes.
For people who will invent words on an as-needed basis, and those who see faces in shoes, cars, and appliances.
Who is this for? Someone asked me. It’s a good question. I started a list.
I thought of this young woman I met. She wore these knee socks depicting Van Gogh’s Starry Night. And I thought that there are probably many of us who admire her Van Gogh socks but do not have any and perhaps never will because we keep spending our would-be sock money on fresh bread from a favorite bakery, and repeating the obvious at the first bite, no matter how many times we’ve said it before. “Oh. Bread.” For her, for us. For people who make bread like that.
I thought of how sometimes a person will be so excited about a party that they will arrive early and then wait in the car until appropriately late, and sometimes a person will wonder, in the middle of a party, if it would be rude to start reading. Those who, upon discovering the answer to be “Yes,” consider it a moral choice to resist the impulse, however strong. All of these people.
I thought of the people on the pier, fishing for dinner, piling their catch in a five-gallon bucket, who know which bait and which rod go with what catch. Also, the people who tried fishing once because it seemed noble, somehow, who did it long enough to realize that if they could only eat the fish they caught, they may as well abandon seafood altogether and just start focusing on developing some better nut-based dishes. Both groups are on my mind.
I thought of people whose eyes get weary when they are staring into late-afternoon traffic, and who find some moral heartbreak in the way that a person with some power at work can regularly write emails with non-parallel sentence structure, and I thought of a custodian I knew who was never without a book, and another who would moonlight in a band on his sax. These people, I thought.
And anyone who ever felt a little funny about doing an inner eye roll whenever they would encounter one of those “live, laugh, love” home décor placards––not because they are opposed to living, laughing, or loving, obviously, but because there is a gut-level aversion to propaganda in all forms; or who found themselves entirely mystified to meet a person who seemed generally immune to debilitating bouts of generalized melancholy. And I thought of my sister, who may actually have one of these home décor placards in her living room, I couldn’t remember, and how if she did, she would mean it unironically, and it would be honest and real, and just perfect for her home. So of course, her, and anyone also in this category with her.
People who know the feeling of laughing until the liquid one is trying to drink starts to spew out the nose, intensifying the laugh which is now all out of proportion with any sense of decorum. People who appreciate the customs of decorum, how they vary according to context and place, and notice the subtle nuances, who know when to say, “What’s good?” vs. “How are you?” vs. nothing but a long look and a deep nod, hand over heart.
People who will invent words on an as-needed basis, and those who see faces in shoes, cars, and appliances. Who hear voices regularly, in a manner that is neither alarming, nor pathological, nor the sort of thing they’d go around admitting, because they understand people’s aversion to associating with the people who admit to hearing voices, and also because the voices in question are generally entertaining, and usually good company.
I noticed, as I was writing this list, that it wanted to get longer. I noticed, that if I let it go on as it may want to, I might be going way beyond my self-imposed limits for these posts. I considered how much I enjoyed making this list, and decided to return tomorrow, with the next installment of “Who Is This For?”
I keep metaphors on hand like tools for getting me out of tight psychic spaces. Many are regularly useful, like the tiny Philips screwdriver in the catchall drawer, even after they’ve become so clichéd that they would sound generic if I used them in writing. You know the ones, hope as the thing with feathers, and the bright light in the dark room. The beloved as a summer’s day, or the sun. The heart as the always-breaking part, its cracks the places through which some inner light shines. Snow like a bedcover, a partner as one’s other half, emotions like an amusement park ride, the premise of which is to simmer delight with suspense until they boil over into terrified laughter. The dead horse, still beaten; the late-coming blooms, time as a thief, running off with the riches still unspent. Years like a river upon which a body may be carried, against which the salmon might swim. Time at the bedside in the white costume of a nurse of the first great war, coming to heal.
These familiar metaphors can be called up as needed, summoned for the occasion. There’s comfort and security in returning to them. I’ll be the tree; you be the bird. I’ll be the nest; you be the egg. I’ll be the frightened, you be the sheltering wing, here is the basket, now take the eggs. Long road, steep hill, one foot at a time, there are always the bushes to shake.
Until they shake you such that your vision lands on one you’ve never seen before, and it’s like finding a new room in the house you’ve been living in for years. This happened the other day, as I was walking by an elementary school, and I looked through the fence, into the garden, to read the words painted in a child’s hand, in large letters, on plywood propped behind the raised beds, against the opposite fence.
“THE WORLD IS YOUR OY,” it proudly proclaimed, and I almost missed it, filling in the space with the missing letters I expected to see––as I do often, mainly with my own typos. Ah yes, I thought, the mollusk ready to eat, which is a delicacy when fresh and poison when left to sit too long. The thing to be shucked and opened, quivering briny flesh on the tongue, swallowed whole.
But then I stopped. No, it was not an oyster, as this young person had written it. Perhaps they were going that way, and then they got tagged it or something more interesting happened in the adjacent field–– a kickball game or an unexpected kite. Maybe the fire bell rang. Whatever the interruption, the result is clear, and what it leaves me with is a metaphor that’s just right at specific moments when other ones will not do. Yes, I think, wisdom from the letters of babes. The world is indeed, sometimes, just this: My Oy! Some tools are too wonderful to keep to oneself, so I have to write it here again. I’ll leave it to you to decide on the appropriate use.
One of the best things about being a writer is getting to hang out in a space of researching these questions.
One of the interesting challenges of keeping this daily practice of posting here, is noticing how often I face a sense of having nothing to share. Earlier this week, I began some early notes for what I think are two distinct coming long-term projects, and I also revised a poetry manuscript. Those are unwieldy and not appropriate for publication here. I thought of sharing something I found this morning, but I had written it years ago and part of my intention in showing up here is with new pieces, ready or not. I want to practice what I am trying to teach myself, which is, among other things: that even when you feel like you don’t have enough, or feel unworthy, there is always something new to share. Just because. It’s hard to learn this because the world is so much. Mostly, I want to avoid walking out there, especially with some creative infant child in my arms.
So, baby steps. I am coming up on forty days into this practice (Hah! I think as I write this, The length of a Biblical desert fast! What’s next, visions?! Hang on!) and after an enthusiastic day one, I have been having plenty of good practice in noticing that every day there’s a block, and every day, something new. By this point, I have learned to expect that the next time I get writer’s block (either in five minutes, one hour or tomorrow morning), I’ll just keep writing through it. Sort of like breathing through the thing that starts to feel like despair or laughing while crying.
I feel mostly as though I never have anything to say (if saying means, “All must hear this!”), but I can’t know what I think (and sometimes feel) without writing. As a result, I have lots of backup techniques with which to treat such paralysis. My writing self, I have learned, must be treated like a terrified, sickly child in need of a lot of extra support. I keep books of prompts handy, and bookmark weird news sites and craigslist ads, also photography sites and art books. Many days, I look up “This Day in History” to see if anything kindles there. If I still come up short, it can be fruitful to try an erasure or a found poem of another text. The worst that can happen from that is that I will spend some time reading a text I might otherwise not read. It can teach me something new.
Thinking about what to post here today, I checked my usual places and seemed to be coming up with nothing. But then I learned that it was on this day in 1937 that American philosopher Thomas Nagel was born. I’ve been obsessed about questions of understanding and what can’t be understood, thinking and what can’t be thought through, and (always) with the question of how to be––here, in this impossible world. I jumped at the chance to return to his “What it’s Like to Be a Bat.” The only problem with using this text for found poetry is that I loved so many whole phrases and complete sentences, that I had to leave them intact. I thought about italicizing these sections, as though to give credit to the author, who might very well be appalled at the gross modifications and reductions of this excellent text, the focus of which is largely a question of certain inherent problems in reductionist tendencies. But then, I just italicized the whole thing. It’s an exercise. Consider the words stolen, the arrangement sometimes mine.
But, as I say to the child writer whom I’m trying to coax into writing today’s piece, “Oh, well! It was a good time, wasn’t it?! And no one got hurt!” I highly recommend the process, which if you cut out the time hemming and hawing over what to do, is entirely intuitive and basically involves trying not to think while you pluck out words and phrases of interest. Generally, something like this may be done in 1-15 minutes, which makes it great for a practice exercise. In this case, I made some attempt to honor the spirit of the work, but I took liberties with delivery and nuance.
Caveat: I still don’t know what it’s like to be a bat. But at least I got to hang out in a space of researching the question, which is one of the best things about being a writer.
Consciousness, the mind body problem, is intractable. Current discussions get it obviously wrong.
Reductionist euphoria is designed to explain, but problems are ignored. Philosophers share a human weakness for what is familiar, hence familiar reductions.
Without consciousness, it seems hopeless. Perhaps a new form can be, in the distant future.
Extremists deny this. It is impossible to exclude experience. Ever spent time in an enclosed space, with an excited bat?
Now there is an alien form of life! Consider echolocation, how they whisper with their shrieks, how different from any sense we possess. What is it like to be a bat?
We cannotform more than a schematic conception. If there is conscious life elsewhere in the universe, it is likely that some of it will not be describable. It would be foolish to doubt that there are facts
which humans will never possess, just as it would to be convinced that the bats’ experience, once thoroughly observed, may be known.
What would be left if you removed the viewpoint of the bat? Here is a general difficulty.There is an effort to substitute the concept of mind for the real thing, to have nothing left over which cannot be reduced. What next?What it is, remains a mystery.
The apparent clarity of the word “is,” is deceptive. Suppose a caterpillar, locked in a safe, by someone unfamiliar with metamorphosis. Weeks later, a butterfly! One might think a tiny, winged parasite devoured the original, and grew.
Does it make sense to ask what my experiences are really like, beyond how they appear? Proposal: it may be possible to approach from another direction, separate from empathy or imagination. It would not capture; it’s goal would be to describe.
One might try to develop concepts that could be used to explain to a person blind from birth what it was like to see, and vice versa. One would reach a blank wall, eventually, but still. Possible. Red is not quite the sound of a trumpet. I am indebted to many people for their comments.
If one understood how subjective experience could have an objective nature, one would understand the existence of subjects other than oneself.
Note to artist-child-self: now go look at bats. If none are available, because daytime, birds will do. Watch. Then later, remember to write again. Do this impossible, necessary exercise of making something even if it isn’t sense, of what you may not know.
We didn’t think about squandering, then,
and it never once occurred to us to save.
Remember when we shot our breaths out of ourselves, laughing at the last loud fart? We couldn’t stop
And we sprayed gasping iridescent drops into the air like water from the spray nozzle of a garden hose, just for dancing.
We played chase like being hunted was a game, like capture was a cartoon scene, we fell down laughing. Wait, we said, I need to catch –– like it was slow feathers falling from the sky to be cupped in our open hands
––And remember, how we painted with it, too? We blew our canvasses across car windows, fingertips tracing: here a smile, now a cat, heart.
And sometimes it was smacked from us, as when we fell back off a ladder or a swing, but the trick to waiting was knowing the metaphor and trusting that if the next breath could be knocked out
like a ball from a basket, it could also come swishing back at the next run up the court, catching nothing but the nets of our wide-stretched throats.
We didn’t think about squandering, then, and it never once occurred to us to save any of what we spent so freely, those fortunes that we took for our inheritance. We had no way
of knowing, then, how easily they could go. Really, it takes only a certain amount of pressure, applied across a certain length of time, but how could we have begun to measure
what we had yet to grow the strength to apply?
We couldn’t, not when time was what we flew threw, roaring our laughs like lions until they ran out.
What would the world be like, if more people walked around proclaiming their shortcomings in the face of grand ideals?
On this day in 1923, poet Wislawa Szymborska was born. A winner of the Nobel Prize who once observed “perhaps” two in a thousand people like poetry (“Some Like Poetry”), she is celebrated for the way she explores the layered mysteries inherent in everyday experiences.
Sometimes, a great poem can work as a blueprint for a much-needed ritual. In “Under a Certain Little Star” Szymborska explores the ritual of apology in new ways. What would the world be like, if more people walked around proclaiming their shortcomings in the face of grand ideals? It would have problems of its own, of course, but I can’t help but think that it must be a terrific improvement over a world where false certainty is celebrated as strength, apology maligned as weakness, and people are expected to be walking billboards for ideas and ideals, instead of as fallible and ever-changing creatures of flesh, blood, and dreams.
So today, I’ll be using Szymborska’s poem as a blueprint for enacting this ritual of apology, in celebration of the tremendous fallibility and impossible mystery of being human here.
My apologies to tenderness for vowing I could do without, and to fasting in general for my terrible performance. May joy not be annoyed with my stalker’s watch. May those disappeared dreams forgive me for pretending not to notice when they were kidnapped.
My apologies to space for not taking what was offered and appearing unintentionally ungrateful, and to gratitude for so often making it look like a grocery list and not a flood.
Forgive me, misery, for still caring about the smell and chew of a fresh loaf of bread. Forgive me, tender skin, for all of these oven burns, now scars. My apologies to some great concertos I’ve never listened to, and to those that moved me deeply, for not sitting still.
My apologies to the cold woman on the hard bench, for savoring these blankets in the morning, for returning to them with coffee, and lingering as long as I am allowed. Pardon my reckless heart its sudden leaking breaks. Forgive me, solemnity, for laughing in the house of death, forgive me, composure, for my melting face.
And to all the birds whose names I never managed to learn–– trees, too, all those branched beings I claimed to love but did not plant, to the plants I claimed to want but did not water, or watered too much, or kept in the wrong pots, choking.
To domesticity, forgive these blood-soaked fangs. Faith, please notice when I lose you, how I am always losing you; please come looking when I do. You can find me by my gait, like someone trying not to limp on a broken bone. Bone, forgive my insistence on walking through your break. Pride, forgive me when I can’t control the limp. Endure, hunger, that I may continue to move, just to feed you. Patience, don’t blame me for pretending we were sisters even when I didn’t return your calls. My apologies to all those hopes I inadvertently inspired, which I could not answer.
And to love, for everything. And to honesty, for the way my eyes so often grow heavy when you speak. I am beyond excuses, sinking in the pit of my own making. Don’t hold it against me, words, for crying so much about wishing I had more to give, and then, when you give all you have, for guarding you in silence like a dragon over captive virgins he may not know.