Poetry by Farah Lawal Harris

Posts tagged “fear

Love Letter to My Dreams


to get to you,
i will jump–
no–dive–
into an ice cold pool,
not knowing how to swim well, stay in my lane
or hold my breath for a long time;
not knowing the difference
between a breast stroke and butterfly,
only having a loose plan to freestyle
and hope i make it
with my pure unadulterated desire,
naive hope
that somehow,
i’ll stay afloat.
they may need to push me in,
but damnit,
when that time comes
i’ll happily oblige,
doggy paddle for miles and miles,
tread water just for the chance
of grabbing a thread of the fiber of you,
that same fiber that makes me
me.


Shiver


i still shiver
when fingers touch my neck without forewarning.
if a man tries to whisper in my ear,
my body freezes
like the temperature just dropped.

this body used to be
raw honey for black tea,
good music for a weary soul.

my voice used to sing simple songs
about my day or foods i like.

but this tongue grew numb
and i still get nervous
when the weight i purposely gained
slips away.

i’m still suspicious of strangers;
plot escape plans
when i walk in alleys alone:
if i’m wearing heels,
i practice in my head
how i’ll stab a crazy man in the eye;
if wearing boots,
i plan to knock him down, stomp, and run;
if any other shoes,
then knee must be used.
all this preparation for a woman
who’s never been attacked by someone she didn’t know;
all these thoughts of violence for a woman
who thought love conquered all.

but i had one failure,
trusted when i should’ve been cautious,
stayed when i should have left,
entertained when i should have ignored…

and sometimes i still
shiver.


False Start?


“I love you” runs
to the tip of my tongue
only to be halted
by fear
of being penalized for a false start.

i don’t wanna jump the gun
but i find it hard to explain
how when we connect eyes,
my soul is certain that
you are the one,
how with you i can be my genuine self
as if that were the only version of me
that was ever acceptable.

you raise a standard
i hadn’t realized i had set so low.
and you’re making me high.
do you not see me floating past my past?
do you not see me biting my tongue
before i allow myself to speak too fast?
for now, words will rest at it’s tip
until the opportune moment when they come alive
on my lips.


Shadows


when i was a little girl,
i was not afraid of the dark,
but of shadows.
cluttered closet in Mama’s room
influenced the curious mind of a girl
too soon scared of the unknown.

i saw witches,
evil ones with big noses
and if i closed my eyes for long enough,
i could kind of hear them cackling.
maybe they concocted brews
and poured them into my orifices
once my restless eyes were rescued by sleep.

that is the only reason i can think of
as to why twenty years later,
shadows in my cluttered bedroom
make me turn on night lights.
shadows turn into figures in my overactive sight
and figures transform into men
lurking on the corners of my memory.
only this night,
i win.
i will sleep.


Retrospect for God


i think in life,
some people are just meant to go through things.
and for whatever reason,
one of those people is me.

even though he allows me to get beat,
i know he loves me.
even though my heart breaks,
only to be put together again
so it can fall apart in new ways,
i know he will always be there
with a roll of duct tape.
although he sees me cry
and is sometimes the source of tears,
i know that i am my happiest with him
and there is no one else i would rather fear.

abusive lover of my soul,
if only they could see the bruises i hide
behind make-up and made-up moods and affectations.
if only they knew how i face more mornings than i can mention
with hesitation, afraid
to even open my eyes to see the reality before me,
thinking that some days would be better spent sleeping,
dreaming of a better next week,
skipping over tomorrow;
longing for laughter louder than
the heaviness of sorrow;
hoping that my scars will one day heal
and one day you will
stop allowing me to get so beat.

but i think it mean just means that you love me…
right?


Without Love


where would i be without love?
perhaps shivering naked in a closet,
never having experienced touch;
or sleeping on park benches hoping to get mugged
because violence is at least physical contact
and physical contact sometimes simulates
or at least emulates
love.

where would i be?
mouth devoid of four-letter words
and heart symbols to connect others to me,
interactions without laughter,
days without passion,
existence without meaning,
living without being,
a heart that’s not beating,
a soul that’s not healing,
a mind without imagination,
exchange without compassion,
summer without sun,
winter without Christmas,
holidays with no family,
a brain without sanity,
bare bones and flesh without a body,
eyes without tears,
no fun in conquering fear…

how could i possibly live there?!

i will build a house of love even if
all i can afford is a cardboard box without a roof
and newspaper to stuff the holes in my shoes.
i will clothe myself in patience,
waiting for love despite
my wrinkles and creases in the wrong places,
chase it til it strikes me like lightning
and just as i’m dying,
my eyes will be shining and i’ll know
it was worth trying
because life without love is death
so as i take my last breath,
i’ll just float away to live in another land that is safe
and enter the gate for those who chose to take the risk
that always comes with love

and be home.


If This Is


beauty meets tears
and invites them to a dance with steps
only memorized by the magnificent.
if this is history,
then i wonder what tomorrow will feel like.
if this is reality,
then how peaceful will my dreams be
when i close my eyes tonight?
if this is joy,
then i cannot wait to experience love.
the thought of it gives me goosebumps and fear
because my heart is already swollen
with pride.
it beats louder than ever.
i am alive again.
i didn’t even know i was sleepwalking
until now i have experienced
real life–
the emotion, the struggle, the achievements
and all that could happen
by just believing.
overwhelmed i am
so blessed i am
here i am
free,
breathing, feeling,
being, existing,
growing, changing,
praising.

i thought God was absent
so i could only imagine
how great would His presence would feel like.