She is stuck between two worlds, in a perpetual transition phase that never seems to end. If only life had a clear-cut schedule of categorical time periods. “Now you are lost. Now you are found. Now you are alone. Now you are okay. Now you are confused. Now you are you.”
But no, the now is the always until it is no longer there. She sees no ends and no finish lines and no distinctions between who she is now and who she will be, until after when she isn’t herself but instead someone new.
She is stuck in a past love that seems to fade slowly, despite her pain and despite the letters. She is stuck in the fading process, a gradient of self-care and self-pity, pixelized so that you cannot see the truth, in case it might hurt.
The elegance of her broken state is blurry and looks more like a photo of moving lights in nighttime than a crystal chandelier; at least that’s all she sees when she looks in the mirror.
She thinks too much and feels too much and falls too much, but her legs were bruised from age 6 anyway. 6.5, to be precise. Something happened then that never got fixed. Something got stolen then and never returned.
She is long gone now.
When you can’t hope to find yourself without her,
you think back, watch
hour-hands twirl like blades, dance
in the direction opposite their instinct and cut
through the grey swell of your present tense.
In the sole quiet moment of a windy afternoon
a child sways on a swing, sketchbook and lungs
both filling with the gently soaring sun
and the fierce, wistful sky
without knowing or caring what any of it might mean.
She is drawing a house as it sits patiently
amid the soil and grass, a house alive with clocks
ticking away every sentiment she coaxes onto the page.
Her lines are drawn
with the tenderness of one who has not yet learned
that when those clocks have spun her along too far
for comfort, their solemn eyes
watching over her like guardian angels with poker faces
(ironically unchanged by the very years
their endlessly circling hands see in and then out again),
she will still be sitting on that swing. Her hips
will be too big for it, and her long legs
too awkward for her weakening momentum to lift her
from the ground. The sun-dappled spot will be a mere remnant
of a girl who could look at that house and see
something more than the countless
unfinished projects never, now, to be complete –
something more than the imperfections riddling
those walls and the peeling paint forsaking
that ceiling – something more than the reality
that it is decay that happens
while we are making other plans. And she will
become who you are today when time lets that last
betrayal settle into place, a tired puzzle piece,
and you will miss the girl who didn’t need
to fool herself into thinking that we are something more
than lonely players in a game we have ourselves
constructed, each searching for a “self”
that has never existed, ever-striving, ever-reaching
at the expense of what any illusion costs: everything.
But she is long gone now.
PS. Prompt: “Beneath the stains of time, the feelings disappear./ You are someone else; I am still right here” – Nine Inch Nails
“Dancing” by Cristina (acrylic)
“Dancing in the eye of the storm…
Better to be the river
Not the stone in the middle
Best to be the changing water
Not the pebble dragged along.”
– S.J. Tucker, “Storm”