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
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
new touch with an old face
but fresh feelings.
it’s funny–the old me
was too numb to even know
that these nerves existed,
that i could be myself in my own skin,
that you’d appreciate my blemishes;
that i can lay back and be silly
without false pretenses.
that i’m ok with being lonely forever
and the hurt i faced in the past
had me thinking that i would never
open arms again
or kiss lips again
or dare to wish again
but i see him again
and yesterday melts like ice cubes in the summer,
new experiences wash over me like water
and i kind of like
getting my feet wet.
i may get lonely sometimes,
question the love of those around me,
long for the feeling of arms around me–
circling, grasping, speaking in the form of squeezing
and making me feel safe in this dangerous world.
but i’m not alone.
i have known alone,
moved into a room in her home,
making my bed every morning
until i was evicted by joy,
pulled out kicking and screaming by love,
and left on the street disappointed by the affirmation
that at times,
i will be lonely
even when i am surrounded by love
from those around me.
loneliness doesn’t depend on the outside conditions.
loneliness is birthed when a piece of your heart is missing.
beats don’t occur at the same time rhythm
and if you stay there long enough,
you become a victim.
i may get lonely sometimes,
even cry sometimes
and i’ve wept sometimes
and i’ve wanted to die sometimes
but the love that i feel at times
make all those feelings a waste of time,
make me feel like if i just had some time
to count all the times
where i received love i didn’t deserve,
was reminded of my self-worth,
succeeded when life didn’t seem to work
and healed beautifully from pain that hurt me,
then lonely wouldn’t even be
i may get lonely sometimes,
but i am filled with love that pushes out emotion
and shines light on truth like
being lonely gives me time to think
and being lonely lets me discover me
and being lonely makes me appreciate company
and laughter and life and love
so here is to my lonely sometimes.
you will not hold me down this time.
love will prevail
and so will i.
hardened as i may try to be,
i can’t run away from the fact
that i am in fact,
i am strong without a doubt,
able to do whatever i set my mind to,
but inside i am soft as tissue,
sensitive like scarred skin,
delicate as seraphim and cherubim
and spend my energy cherishing
everyone around me.
sometimes the weather gets cloudy
and i forget my anatomy,
think i have pecs instead of breasts,
a mustache above my lips,
and a voice deep and rich as chocolate.
but i am not this basic idea or definition.
i am the kiss on your forehead when your confidence is missing.
i am the gentle touch when trouble gets to be too much
and the loving ear that will always be there.
i am the mirror on the wall that tells you all,
the pep in your step to take you from one success to the next.
i am a woman,
mother of creation,
removed from your rib so that your stomach is a little empty
so that when you get hungry, you’ll know that you need me.
i am the appetizer, main course, and dessert,
the one that you love but still tend to hurt,
the one who loves you but still likes to search
for herself outside of your help.
i am not the same as you.
we complement each other like orange and blue,
like honey and dew,
sweet and tickling.
oh, what a feeling
to stop pretending
and start claiming
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
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.
this poem won’t be remembered.
i guarantee it won’t be a masterpiece
but it very well may be
the most honest piece
of writing i have yet to complete.
there’s a passion burning in me
so strong and fiery
that i can’t do daily activities
because my fingers are singed with third degree burns
of what God whispered to me.
i would do it for free,
scour the streets looking for pennies to sustain me
and eat crumbs that fall from heaven
if that was all there was to feed me…
the truth is that my pride consumes me
as does fear.
i lack faith that i will ever do any better
than what exists here
and can’t trust that which i don’t see.
does that make me faithless?
or more frankly,
i lost trust in a God that i loved because
He disappointed me
and i can’t help but think that if He,
all knowing and loving
let me face such pain and anguish,
that life can’t get any better
than it is now.
i am Atlas,
pushing a boulder that threatens to crush me.
i am Jonah,
stuck in the belly of a whale of irresponsibility.
i wish i could be Jesus
but sacrifice seems just too much for me.
the passion burns me
and i possess the hose to put myself out
but don’t believe the water will really shoot out.
so i walk with half empty buckets
held by a broomstick across my back
and earn splinters in my shoulders and neglect that causes death
all because i am too scared to live.
what kind of punishment is this?
what kind of nonsense is this?
ruled by fear,
ignited by dreams
that seem too far away to touch
because i am afraid to reach.
i run so much that i miss out on touch.
oftentimes, i brush past shoulders of those i know
as to not fully forget
what it feels like when flesh connects.
my sense memory is not enough
to carry me from one day to the next anymore.
my proprioception blinds my perception
so that my sixth sense seeks love by senselessly banging
on unanswered doors
and as a result, my affection bank is overdrawn–
i’m so poor;
surrounded by people,
but i’m so lonely;
loved by many,
but i just need someone to hold me,
to reteach me the meaning of skin meeting skin,
to turn my stone heart and body back
to beating warmth: soft, slow, and genuine.
i want to move with purpose
rather than sprint from here to there,
ignoring the simplicity of something as simple
as touch to let me know i’m still here
and that somebody cares.