They’ll Never Know

They’ll Never Know

They’ll never know that she cried that night.

They’ll never know that all her self-confident smiles
were scribbled on
with old fragments of once-bright crayons and markers
now dried up
only a desperate grasping of what they once were.

They’ll never know that strength is only a show put outward
and that sadness
is a poison breath taken in and held

They’ll never know that anger is just a siren and flashing red lights
and that the real storm lies within.

Deep.
Dark.
Destruction.

They can’t see that she’s hurting inside
That they are ruining her inside
that she is wasting away
behind her mask
and one day all that will be left is a shell.

An empty.
Hollow.
Useless.
shell.

And they won’t see it still
because they’ve put up a mirror
between her
and them

a wall.
a barrier.
shutting her out.

All they see is themselves.
Reflected back.
The barricade.

The barricades press in and
box her in and
trap her in
so she is trapped,
trapped in this dark little world.

They lock out the air and
lock out the light and
lock out the love

And without these things she will die,
although she was already beginning to be gone,
long before she noticed them closing in on her.

And she will scream and
kick and
shout and
roar
but no one will hear her
no matter how much she cries

because the mirror walls not only reflect sight
but sound

And all they can hear is their own voices and
all she can  hear is her own and
how alone it is and
how it echoes, in that worldless little box.

And they’ll never know that she cried that night,
because they’ll never truly see her again.

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Hooray! I Finally Did It! Library Contest Results: Plain Sugar Drops

I took this photo of a bunch of random stuff of mine last year year for my photography class:

A picture of some ribbons and things tinted pink

It kind of fits. Kind of.

It actually is a picture of mine that goes well with the story at the bottom of this post. And so, without further ado, the actual post:

I’m on cloud nine today. After all this time, I’ve finally done it: 3rd place at my local library’s writing contest.

*dances while throwing confetti and eating sprinke-covered cupcakes*

This has been a goal of mine ever since I’d heard about it a few years ago. Imagined Ink Teen Writing Contest, 1000 words, about anything. And this was going to be my last chance too, since the contest is only open to teens I’m not going to be in high school anymore next year (although I will still be a teen, I suppose… weird.)

But now I finally done it and just in time, too. I was beginning to think that maybe I wasn’t the writer I thought I was, but I guess I am her… If that made no sense, I’m sorry. I’m still dizzy from the smiling and the happy-cloud around my head.

I’m very proud of my third-place finish. The other entries were really, really good, and deserved what they got. I’m perfectly happy.

I might be repeating the word “happy” too much. Apologies!

I wasn’t able to make the event the library put together to present awards, sadly. Author Kenneth Oppel was there, and I would’ve loved to have gone but my schedule was being particularly malicious that day. I was this close to meeting an awesome published author. Sad face: :(

I did end up getting some pretty cool stuff though, including a signed copy of Half Brother by Kenneth Oppel, which I am entirely thrilled to have. I love signed books! They’re living proof that books were written by real people.

Stuff I got as a prize from the library. Thank you!

Half Brother by Kenneth Oppel signed by him

And Cheez-Its! I was really hungry when I got this stuff and so the Cheez-Its were a life saver.

I’ve entered this contest once before (which I might have mentioned in this post). And let me be honest, I might have been doubting myself as a writer a little. But this was exactly the motivator I needed. I can write!

If there’s anything that you end up taking away from this post, let it be this: if you feel like you were meant to be a writer but your words aren’t as writer-like as you thought they would be and you don’t feel like you’re a writer at all, don’t give up. Please don’t. Writing, whether it’s in the back of a notebook or at the top of a bookshelf, is a gift. Don’t give that gift up.

And I’m writing that little piece of advice for myself too, because I’m almost 100% sure that in the near future, I will be that person who doesn’t feel she can be a writer at all.

Thank you for listening. You can read my entry, as well as the first and second place entries here (which I highly recommend because they’re beyond amazing). They’ll probably be up there until next year’s contest. I’ve also posted my entry down below.

Note: Yes, my first name really is Jacqueline. Jackie=Jacqueline. Just so nobody’s confused or anything…

• • •

Plain Sugar Drops

ŸŸŸ            The candy drops at Bellissa’s Confectionary are now $3.00. Last Tuesday they were only $2.75.

I hand over three bills in exchange for the package. A white, crisp paper bag tied off with a black ribbon that has been cut with more precision than necessary.

The man at the counter does not even have to ask me what I want. In fact, I don’t think we’ve spoken in years.

(That streak was broken today. Mr.—I can’t even remember his name—stated that the price of drops has gone up to three dollars. I just nodded.)

Every Tuesday afternoon around this time I walk into Bellissa’s and buy exactly one bag of candy drops.

I do not marvel at the pink-and-orange-striped walls. I do not stop to ponder anything else in the store, though it is somewhat tempting.

I do not watch the blown-sugar Ferris wheel as it spins in the front window. I do not deposit any coins in the glass cotton candy machine. I do not gaze longingly at the bouquet of cupcakes in the display case.

Every Tuesday, I walk in and head straight for the blossom-colored counter. I hand Mr. Man-Behind-The-Counter exactly $2.75 (now $3.00). He gives me the bag of drops, along with my receipt.

BELLISSA’S CONFECTIONERY

NAME: LAINIE FALLOWAY

PLAIN DROPS…………………… $3.00

TOTAL…………………………….. $3.00

THANK YOU, PLEASE COME AGAIN

Now, the man behind the counter and I both know that I am not Lainie Falloway, but he does not dare point it out.

I look like Lainie. I walk like Lainie. I dress like Lainie. I even smell like Lainie. And for all intents and purposes, I am Lainie Falloway.

As long as neither of us says anything about how I am not Lainie, for all anyone knows, Lainie Falloway is here inside the sugar-blown world of Bellissa’s Confectionary, just like she is every Tuesday.

I walk away with my package of colored drops.

This is the part where I begin to walk towards 73rd Street. By the time I’ve reached 68th I will have opened the bag of drops.

The pristine black ribbon will remain pristine, being tucked into my coat pocket.

I will look through the bag of similarly shaped discs, through the assortment of artificial sugar-shine colors, until I find a red one.

I always eat a red one first.

By 70th, I will become bored with sucking on the drop and will begin chewing it, crushing it between my teeth like ice.

I hate these drops. The candies themselves come in five colors (there is no blue) but only one flavor, which is plain sugar. They are boring. They do not taste like fruit. Or chocolate. Or cinnamon.

They taste like nothing.

They are pretty, reflecting light like gemstones held up in the sunlight. But underneath their beautiful exterior is an utterly boring, pointless existence, devoid of flavor and interest.

But I eat the drops. Always.

By the time I reach 73rd Street I will have crunched up about eight or nine drops, depending on my mood.

On 73rd street sits Coldwater Cemetery, a large, stone-laden landscape wrapped around with iron fencing, much like a cake piped with icing along the edges. This is where I am every Tuesday, right after I visit Bellissa’s, easily trading a sea of sugar for a sea of stones.

I enter the cemetery methodically. Sixteen graves back, four to the right. Don’t trip over the shovel.

This headstone is my sister’s. Very plain, I think. It should’ve been one of those statue graves, one with an angel standing watch over the plot. But no, it is a simple stone, smoothed and rounded over much like a candy disc.

“I bought the drops.”

I toss a few onto the grave spot, hitting the stone with a couple of dull clicks. It’s the only answer I ever receive. I narrowly miss the date of birth with my candy.

The death date may not be mine, but the birth date is. We were twins, born four minutes and thirty-two seconds apart. It’s very creepy, seeing my own birthday etched into a gravestone, but I have to remember that it’s not really mine. Not just mine, anyways.

The infamous Falloway Twins used to always go into Bellissa’s and buy candy. Sara Falloway would always get something different or unusual—sour lemon drops, cinnamon spikes, fruit chews, anything.

Lainie would always walk right up to the front counter and would purchase a package of plain, colored sugar drops, and proceed to eat them in rainbow-order.

The candy store was ours. We watched the Ferris wheel spin for hours, constructed entirely of sugar. We bought cotton candy from the glass machine in the corner. Tried to guess the flavors of the cupcakes in the case.

We always shared our spoils, although we didn’t enjoy each other’s candy as much as our own. Nonetheless, we were two sisters of spun sugar, of Ferris wheels and frosting and candy.

And every Tuesday, we’d walk all the way home, throwing candy at each other and laughing and looking utterly inseparable.

Inseparable. We were inseparable, weren’t we? I toss another piece of candy at the grave. I can’t live without my sister. She was me, and I was she, and how was I supposed to live without myself?

Without her?

So every Tuesday I come back to this spot with my bag full of plain sugar candies and I pretend that my sister is still here, still alive, still eating candies and occasionally throwing them at me.

“They raised the price, can you believe it?”

More drops fall onto the silent grave.

One last thing to do before I leave. I pull the perfect black ribbon out of my pocket and place it on the ground.

“Miss you, Lainie. See you next Tuesday.”

I leave her then, pelting the words with drops one last time before I go:

In Loving Memory

LAINIE M. FALLOWAY

BELOVED DAUGHTER AND SISTER

June 18th, 1997-November 7th, 2010

A Glass Perspective

Glass Lamp

• • •

A Glass Perspective

I will never understand this place where I stand.

Life is a matter of perspective. It is subjective. It bends and twists and breaks, it moves in tandem with us, shifting as we do.

Glasses are often stated as half empty or half full, as either-or but never both. The glass bends the light as it catches, and the light turns and shines like a lighthouse or a firework flare, all depending on how the glass is standing. Where it is standing. Where it is moved.

We live in a hall of mirrors, each mirror distorted and misshapen but utterly reflective. And depending on where we stand we see different versions of ourselves, reflected back in wayward ways. Are we tall? Strong? Do we look curled over, sad, small, weak? Are we who we think we are? Is this mirror me? Or is it this one? Which one shows me who I am?

Do they all?

Maybe none of them are.

We are what we wish other people to see, because people see what we want them to see. And we want them to see us, and we want them to like us.

But these are not always mutual things, seeing and liking. We see the mirrors, but we do not like them. We know that other people can see us reflected in them. If only we’d step aside, look in a different mirror—one that does not make us appear a withered stick or a formless shell. But we do not move.

We choose the ugly, the scarred, the broken. We see this. We know others see this. And we do not like it. So we drive our hands across the glass and tear it down, relishing in every crack, every shard, every shatter.

We cut our hands and destroy our image and we continue until there is nothing left of us, nothing but an empty place where once a shadow of us had stood.

If only we’d moved.

If only we’d stepped aside.

Then we would be able to see what a select few have the advantage of observing, being in a more perfect perspective than ours. They stand in a different light. One that flatters us, though we cannot see its sweeping bow, nor hear its applause; we do not feel its shouts for encore, nor taste the roses it throws at us.

And it is a silly thing, this thing we forget. For this stage-light that embraces others may not fit us, not the way we want it to.

We are seated on the balcony, but we wish that we could perform.

We are ballerinas behind closed theater curtains.

Orchestras in a soft-edged room.

But I do not understand that my place is not here, where I was put, where I have fallen into. It is not here, where the mirrors all turn back on me with sharp angles and twisted jaws and haunted figures. It is not here, where the light does not hit me unless it deals a heavy-handed blow.

No, this is not my place. But it is my only place, the only place I know.

I, but not you.

Sometimes someone else must move us—they must take our hands and lead us, assure us that they will catch us if—when—we fall. And we will fall, in this new territory. We will stumble upon mirrors that do not glare at us. Lights that halo us.

Crowds that see us, and like us.

But we still have to have the courage to move our feet for ourselves. To alter our perspective. We must find ourselves a new place to stand.

And then the world will bend around us.

• • •

The picture up there is a lamp/light fixture-thing I saw in a store in Granville Island in Canada. I didn’t have a tripod with me so it’s a little shaky, but I just thought it was pretty.

Fragile (Flash Fiction Challenge: The Cooperative Cliffhanger, Part One)

Here’s another flash fiction challenge from Chuck Wendig!

The challenge this week is The Cooperative Cliffhanger, Part One. Basically you have to write a 1000-word piece with a cliffhanger at the end. But the twist is that somebody else (hopefully) will pick up your piece and write a second part. Sounds like fun right?

Hope you like it!

*UPDATE* There is a part two! Written by the lovely margitsage, you can read Fragile, Part Two by clicking here, or by clicking the link she gives in the comments below. Thank you, margitsage, for finishing off Fragile so beautifully. *round of applause*

• • •

Fragile

Ka-plunk. Ka-plunk. Ka-plunk.

I can hear my heartbeats: loud, clear, strong—and faltering.

I’m scared out of my mind and I know that what I want to do most in the world is take little Maggie’s hand and run, far away from this shuddering place. But I can’t do that. Something here bids us stay, and I can feel in the way that Maggie’s hand slips from mine that she will not follow me.

“Maggie, get back here!”

Clutching her favorite, over-handled teddy bear she stops and turns apologetically. But her eyes—they’re still sparkling, which makes me nervous. “I’m sorry.”

Her voice is so small… I think achingly. Too small to question this pretty place. The glittering rainbow of colors might catch her eye, but it doesn’t catch mine.

Levi chuckles beside me. “You scared, Faye?” I want to punch him in the gut. This isn’t funny. This is so far from funny.

A sickly glow throbs along the walls. The massive, unearthly gems twinkle in a barbaric rhythm. And with each wave I feel very, very wrong. It’s as though the walls, the gems, the pulses are plunging their crystalline claws into my heart, tearing it wide open.

“Don’t be an idiot,” I say coolly. “If we lose her, I’m blaming it all on you.”

He waves his hand dismissively. “We’re not going to lose her.”

The throbbing continues. I do not like how vulnerable I feel, trapped inside this mosaic cave that looks more like mutant butterfly flesh than solid rock. But I will not let Levi know this, because then the teasing would never stop. And I don’t let Maggie know either, because I don’t like how unafraid she is. How at ease she is. That in her eyes is a glimmer of wonder in place of fear. A wonder that’s almost possessive.

Strong. Savage. Unearthly.

A shiver drips down my spine like ice water as I feel it again—that raw, spring-fed pulse that feels too close, too alive, too invasive. I can hear soft whisperings in my ears that I’m not sure are real. The pulsing, the voices, they continue on and on as if driven by some invisible heartbeat, warm and bleeding. I want to vomit.

Maggie hears them too. I can tell because she’s looking up at the ceiling of this nightmare of a cave, as if she’s expecting them to say something to her.

Ka-plunk. Ka-plunk. Ka-plunk.

All of a sudden Maggie breaks into a run.

I can hear Levi’s shouts mixing with mine as we sprint after her. At least he’s stopped treating this like a joke. Panel after panel of stained glass sweeps by us as we chase her through the tunnels, and everything becomes one, giant, neon blur. Every time my feet hit the ground I can feel the shockwaves flowing from the impact, echoing throughout the confined space. The pulse is so heavy, it’s roaring in my ears.

Ka-plunk ka-plunk ka-plunk—

To think that just this morning we were sitting in the kitchen eating yesterday’s leftover casserole and Levi’s burnt attempt at eggs. Just this morning I was tying a new ribbon around that old teddy bear’s neck to cover the broken seam. Just this morning there were no such things as Alice-in-Wonderland rabbit holes or magical Narnian wardrobes.

And now that I think about it, there still aren’t. Narnia was never this frightening.

Levi reaches her before I do. He’s holding her by her shoulders when I arrive. “You can’t just run off like that,” he scolds lightly.

“What were you thinking?” I shout. She’s still clutching that deformed teddy bear of hers. I’m screaming at her and she looks about to cry, but I don’t care. “What if something had happened to you? Didn’t think about that, did you?”

“I’m sorry… But it asked me for help. I just wanted to help it. I really didn’t mean to… I…” Her bottom lip is trembling like a baby’s.

“You didn’t mean to?” I start.

“Faye, lay off,” Levi warns.

“No, I’m not going to lay off. Am I the only one that’s concerned about our safety here?”

Levi and I argue back and forth. He tells me that it was no big deal. I tell him how irresponsible he is. He says I’m acting like a brat. I tell him that he’s a lazy, good-for-nothing pain that I can’t shake.

Ka-plunk-ka-plunk-ka-plunk—

I’m down to my last straw. “Shut up, Levi!”

He doesn’t respond, and I’m thinking that I’ve finally won the argument when I see his face. He’s not looking at me. He’s looking at Maggie.

She’s started walking forward again. Slowly this time, her teddy bear barely dangling from her hand. And that’s when I notice it.

We’ve reached the end of the cave, the back wall a plain deterrent in front of us. Now that I’m once again aware of my surroundings, I realize the pulsing is so forceful here that I feel disoriented and dizzy. The whispers are incoherent shouts.

And against that moldy, gemstone-mosaic wall there’s a giant tumor of a growth bulging right out of the earth. I can’t tell what it is—it looks like glass and insect wing and spider silk and bubble soap all at the same time. And I know without a doubt that this is where the pulsing is coming from.

The thing beats—ka-plunk, ka-plunk, ka-plunk—like an iridescent human heart, struggling to move. I begin to panic as it squirms.

Maggie’s hand hovers just over it, her favorite teddy bear forgotten on the ground like a piece of trash.

Kaplunkkaplunkkaplunk—

We try to reach her again. We call for her to stop. But she can’t hear us at all, and I can barely hear my own ragged voice. I know I will be too late by the time I yank her back.

She touches that grimy, silvery throbbing creature and it glows, beating so fast it becomes one, thunderous hum.

Kaplunkkaplunkkaplunkkaplunkkaplunkkaplunkkaplunkkaplunkkaplunk—

Ka-plunk.

World’s Eye

World's Eye

WORLD’S EYE

What do you see, when you look at us?
shards and pieces
fragments of a whole truth

broken
hazy
hidden

To be found
on any day of your choosing

should you choose to search

Look closely, and you will see
secrets
and shushes

a quiet so loud it rumbles and hums

Emotion and daring and dreaming and more
underneath our haloed surfaces

Underneath our shields of rippled glass
of torn sky
of softest earth

underneath the crystal veil we wear

But step away

away for just a moment more

away
afar
a distance

Let the fragments become whole
let the pieces fall together
let the strings intertwine

See every detail
See them coalesce

See them through world’s eye

The Shifting of Light (Flash Fiction Challenge: Last Lines First)

I’ve never tried this before, so this should be intersting.

Every week Chuck Wendig posts a Flash Fiction challenge on his blog terribleminds (fantastic blog, by the way), and I thought I’d try it out– I mean, sounds like fun, right?

Usually short stuff is tricky for me (hence the maxed-out word count), so… this is going to be some good practice.

This week the challenge is to take one of the lines given to us and use it as the first sentence in a piece no longer than 1,000 words.

Okay… here goes…

• • •

The Shifting of Light

Life was easier before killing all the rabbits. Before they all died out. Before the snow foxes starved to death.

Everything changes.

When I was a little girl and my Nana was still alive, she would always tell me about the Shifting Ears, the polar rabbits. After a day out in the bitter snows of late autumn, my papa and I would come back to our home, back to Nana. As night fell we traded our castle of ice for one of earth and fire, one of logs that creaked, of a fireplace that struggled.

When we came home my Nana would sit me on her knee near the fire to warm me, though she was probably too brittle to bear my weight. She braided my hair down my back to look like hers. She sang to me in a language I did not understand, from a place she said most couldn’t remember. And one night, she told me her story.

Shifting Eyes. Shifting Ears. The Shifting of Light.

When my Nana was young, the rabbits were very common. The Shifting Ears, they called them. In winter they were the color of cream, but as the seasons changed, winter white turned to summer brown, and the rabbits would change their seasonal coats.

Every day, my Nana and her friends would set out with their weapons to hunt. But they were never to hunt the Shifting Ears. They were sacred creatures. Only through them could one reach the Shifting of the Light, along with the Shifting Eyes.

To see both Shifting Ears and Shifting Eyes together was a rare blessing from the spirits. The Shifting Eyes were the snow foxes, shifting coats much like the polar rabbits.

Shifting Eyes could see everything in crisp detail. They could count the feathers of an eagle ascending, though the eagle was high in the air, my Nana would say, her voice frail.  And the Shifting Ears could hear a lynx’s footsteps from many miles away, perhaps even before the lynx had taken them.

Snow foxes hunted the polar rabbits, but there were always more hares than foxes. The balance was kept right, never shifting too far.

So to see them together was nearly impossible; and yet, my Nana had seen them. Seen, and followed.

That day Nana and her friends were crossing the lake, frozen over from winter. They had been warned not to; the closer it came to spring, the thinner the ice became. But they did anyway.

We were fools, my Nana said. We did not listen to our elders. We heeded no warnings.

On that day my Nana’s youngest brother would fall in. He would drown in the crackling of ice and the bite of snow, and none could save him.

If only it were anyone but him. I loved my brother. But we hadn’t listened. We had killed him.

And so Nana and her friends asked the spirits for help. They wanted to go to the Shifting of the Light. Legend said that in the Shifting of the Light, the souls of the dead were able to flutter to earth like beams of sunlight, and the living could see them again.

The spirits answered them, and from the forest rose a pair of animals—the fox and the rabbit.

The Shifting Eyes and Shifting Ears beckoned them, follow, follow. And so Nana and her friends would follow them, through valley and pine. The Shifting Ears and Shifting Eyes knew the path though they had never followed it. They heard the singing and saw the light far before my Nana could. And they followed.

They were brought to an unfamiliar place. Stars began to cluster in the dark sky. The ground was covered in an even snow. Tall pines pointed upwards.

Light came in ribbons and streaks like paint across the night. The forest sang with an unearthly humming, and there were voices resonating in the air. And down from the light came my Nana’s brother, glowing as brilliantly as a star.

But we were fools. We did not listen.

Eagerly my Nana tried to get her brother to go with her, to leave his place amongst the stars and to fall back to earth.

But it couldn’t be done, you see. He was in the Shifting of the Light. He was light himself—different now. One cannot simply capture sunlight and force it into a jar. He was dead, and we couldn’t raise him.

The light faded. They mourned the death of Nana’s brother, screaming and wailing. And in a rage, they had used their hunting weapons to attack the only thing that was left—the Shifting Ears and Shifting Eyes.

They went on to hunt down every last hare they could find.

Every last rabbit was murdered.

Every last fox had starved.

This angered the spirits greatly. Hard frosts fell upon the land, with shorter summers and frigid winters. Food supplies dwindled. Every animal turned to attack any human it saw.

Her people were hunted by animals and starved by frost. And no person could ever again speak to the dead.

My Nana came to regret her actions. She tried to right what she had done, but couldn’t. She knew that when it came time for her to die, she would see no light—her crimes were too great; her heart to heavy. She’d never see her brother again.

That evening ended with my Nana shedding tears that she was too weak to wipe away.

I am trying to tell you these things because I doubt I will be reunited with you after death. Please, remember what I have said.

In the winter my Nana passed away. She did not get another chance to tell me her story again. But I do not worry. She might have upset the spirits once, but there was hope for her. In her old age, her coat could have changed from the dark color that it once was.

The light is always shifting.

Sheep.

A Sheep.Sheep.

Sheep.
(One sheep)

Sheep.
(Two sheep)

Sheep.
(Three sheep)

There’s a moment, a moment
between awake and asleep
Where I have both, and yet neither,
so I count my sheep.

Sheep.
(Four sheep)

Sheep.
(Five sheep)

Sheep.
(Six sheep)

Under a milky way sky
I could count the stars
I could count some buttons, or marbles,
or glass mason jars,

Sheep.
(Seven sheep)

Sheep.
(Eight sheep)

Sheep.
(Nine sheep)

But sheep are for counting,
for counting at night
It’s in their fluff—their hops—
that makes them just right

Sheep.
(Ten sheep)

Sheep.
(Eleven sheep)

Sheep.
(Twelve sheep)

I can keep counting them
on fingertips, on toes,
For as they nibble the grass,
the number of them grows

Sheep.
(Thirteen sheep)

Sheep.
(Fourteen sheep)

Sheep.
(Fifteen sheep)

They float and they fly
weightless as clouds in their fleece
Nothing can hold them
as they bounce on release

Sheep.
(Sixteen sheep)

Sheep.
(Seventeen sheep)

Sheep.
(Eighteen sheep)

Over white picket fences
white fences of snow
They move over and on
but where do they go?

Sheep.
(Nineteen sheep)

Sheep.
(Twenty sheep)

Sheep.
(Twenty-one sheep)

I dream, I dream,
of my dreamy-eyed sheep
And in dreams I am lost
when I finally fall asleep.

Sheep.
(Twenty-two sheep)

Sheep.
(Twenty-three sheep)

Sheep.
(Twenty-four sheep)

Water the Roses

Rose

Water the Roses

Water the roses, she said.
Water the roses.

I was such a good girl
such a good girl
so when she told me to
Water the roses,
I did

When she was gone and she couldn’t do it herself
I’d do it for her
I cared for whatever she’d left behind

Every day
Every hour
it would be on my mind
Water the roses

I would take my rusty little daisy-print water pail
fill it to the brim
filled it to spill over
and I trickled the water down

The pail was heavy
the water fell heavy
it knocked away some of the loosely bound petals
but I watered those roses
I watered those roses

I was such a good girl
such a good girl
every day water fell,
fell like rain, like drops, like—
I watered them, every day

And every day, she’d look down on me
watch me with her gray, stony eyes
now frozen over
she’d make sure that I’d watered them,
that I’d watered them that day

It didn’t matter that the roses were
overgrown
beyond help
like a mess of metal string to untangle, immovable
like granite, like marble, like—

it didn’t matter that they were spiked and spined,
that they tore through my skin,
sending rivulets of blood dripping,
dripping like drops, like—

It didn’t matter that the soil was eaten up
dried to crumbling cakes
matted down with decayed leaves
fractured like gingersnaps,
powdery, store-bought gingersnaps

dry
last minute
grocery store
gingersnaps

like for parties when you forgot to bring food
or like when you were in a hurry to find something to bring to school
or like—

like—

The ground cracks and the briers snarl and the flowers have recessed
but I am a good girl I am a good girl
I was a good girl

Water the roses, she said
Water the roses, she said.

The roses are dry, she said
Dried up and gone, she said

Dried up and long gone.

• • •

For three roses of mine– two gone, one still strong.

Who Saves the Hero?

Artwork Originally Titled Heartbroken

Who Saves the Hero?

Strength.
Heroes are strength.
They are everything we aspire to be.

There is a certain light in their eyes—
be it a warm, comforting glow,
candlelight flickering undying against shrill winter winds
or a blazing, furious fire
a crackling whirlwind of growling flames
ready to consume

They are both shield and sword, ready
to jump in front of the bullet train,
driving it to the ground with only the flat of their palm
to meet cold metal
Ready to launch themselves into smoke,
to tear enemies down as if they were only grass blades.
Because to them, that is all they are

Weakness.
When I am weak.
When I am nothing but a shriveling dust in my shell
When ashes have come to claim me, and I am no more

A hero shall rise

A hero to come to my aid
When my own arms lay broken and torn
A hero will raise his hand for me
When my voice is a mouse, limp and bleeding in the cat’s mouth
he will shout, a clear, bellowing shout
and all will hear him

Who will save me?

When I cannot run
cannot stand
When I can’t climb or jump or step or speak or breathe

A hero will.
A hero will save me.

A hero
invincible
infallible

A hero to defeat all those I cannot defeat
A hero to defeat them all

Every last one.
All of them.

But.

But all empires come to fall.
All days must fade to night
Even the crashing tide must recede

And the hero will have no strength
he will know his weakness
feel it

When he can no longer shake the earth
When he cannot run
cannot stand
When he can’t climb or jump or step or speak or breathe

Who will save him?

Who will save the hero?

If he was the strongest of us all
If he was the one bearing the mountain on his back
Then who could carry his burden
When it became too heavy for him?

When the stars fell from the sky
who caught them?

When he couldn’t

When we couldn’t

When I couldn’t

The final battle hymn will die out
leaving only the frailest of heartbeats
the unsteady rhythm
keeping time as the funeral march begins
the requiem will fill the silence

And we will remember him
the hero
undone
always

But I pity him
for while there was always
someone
something

stronger than me

there was nothing stronger than him

There was nothing there for them

When you are the net to catch those who fall
who will catch you?

Who will save you?

Who will save the hero?

• • •

The artwork above is a piece I did two years ago for my art class, originally titled “Heartbroken.” If I were to rename it now, it might be something like “Silenced” or “Flightless” or something like that. So feel free to imagine up your own title for it.

White Winter Rabbit Run

Running Rabbit

White Winter Rabbit Run

There is a white winter rabbit, hidden in the snow
with two heartbeats

One rests within his chest, a humming

thump-thump, thump-thump

The other is with his stride
for when he runs he is free

thump-thump, thump-thump

His quick-padded feet pat the snow
and he races

a dart with no target
simply flying

as fast as his feet can carry him.

thump-thump.

He is lightning in the woods
there is thunder in his ears

thumpthumpthumpthumpthumpthump

He is only free as long as he runs
One heartbeat cannot continue without the other

else they fall silent
clutched in the mouth of the snare

So the white winter rabbit runs

thump-thump, thump-thump

He runs until he can run no more.

• • •

*I wrote this poem a few weeks ago, in the back of a notebook along with Little, Little Fish. On Saturday, I had scheduled this eerie poem to be posted for today– nothing special, just another thing to place and move on. And then suddenly… it hits. Suddenly, things change. I think it has more meaning to me now than it did then, in light of recent events.

My heart goes out to everyone affected by the tragedy in Boston. You’re in my thoughts. Keep on running.