A Fire Inside

And I will not get burned.

A fire burns
within me,
and its dark
gray smoke
rises up–
swirling around me–
clouding my vision,
my judgement–
as it escapes.

I cough–
This is a consequence
of having a fire
thriving inside,
deep in my belly–
It makes it hard to breathe,
hard to see,
hard to just exist.

But this fire also
creates light.
You can see embers of it–
sparks of it–
in my eyes.
It provides heat–
keeps me warm
at night
or when the chill
comes down
from the mountainside.
And the smoke
is ultimately
ephemeral–
leaving in wisps
with even
the slightest
breeze.

I will not
let this fire
die out
no matter
what the world
tells me.

I can’t.


Photo by Vlad Bagacian from Pexels

This week, I would like to shine a light on the Innocence Project, a nonprofit organization that uses testing or retesting of DNA evidence in order to exonerate innocent people who have been wrongfully convicted. Their work takes place within the United States, but they are associated with other similar projects in other nations. Their website includes information about their current and previous cases, links to petitions, other ways to get involved.

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The Flow

All it takes is one final wave to crest
before I am plunged into the depths

Sometimes, I find myself gasping for air,
tossed about by waves,
struggling to stay afloat.
I am overwhelmed.
All it takes is one final wave to crest
before I am plunged into the depths
of my psyche,
being pulled to where
the deceptively calm cerulean of the surface
gradates into navy.
It feels as though my ankle is tethered
to the ocean floor by a rope
and that rope is getting shorter,
or perhaps it is being pulled.
If that is true, I don’t want to know
what is doing that pulling,
trying to drag me down to the darkness.
In that time, my lungs burn for lack of air
and I don’t know how to fix it–
I don’t know how to escape–
because I have been spun in every direction,
and there are no landmarks in this deep blue.

That’s when I remember
the trick I was taught about bubbles
and how they always rise
toward the surface,
so I use my last bits of breath
and release it into the water
and notice the path that it takes.
I follow that path.
I rise with those bubbles.
And then I am at the surface again,
weary but alive.

I look back down at where I was,
see the depths beneath me,
reflect on my experience
and thank the dangerous, deep, dark waters
for the lesson
they taught me.

Because I know
that next time I feel that familiar tug
the next time that going with the flow
threatens to drown me,
I will remember that I know how to escape–
I just need to trust my breath.


Photo by Berend de Kort from Pexels

This week’s resource is a reminder that Black lives still matter and there are an abundance of ways that you can continue to support the cause. Here is a different carrd of resources than what I have previously linked to. There are several repeat sources and petitions, but it also includes material that was not on the other carrd that I referenced months ago.

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Angelic

She had always been flighty
and oh, so ethereal

My first time in her car,
I noticed the angel figurine
that she had hanging
from her rear view mirror
with a thin golden thread.
“A Christmas ornament,”
she explained
when she saw my intrigue.
“I wanted to be able
to look at it
all year long.”
The decoration looked old,
its colors muted,
its paint chipped in a few places.
I was sure that placing the angel
so prominently in the sun
would do nothing but escalate
the fading in hue,
but I said nothing,
just stared at its delicate beauty
as she continued to drive us
to the park,
the one next to that cemetery.

I went with her
when she got
those wings
tattooed on her shoulder blades,
lying on her front
on that vinyl chair,
her eyes trained stoically on the wall
just to the right of where I was standing.
She had always been flighty
and oh, so ethereal,
so I figured the reasoning
behind the wings
was so that she could pretend to fly
far away from here
off to heaven
or Eden
or wherever the hell
she had been planning
on escaping to.
I mentioned to her
how well this tattoo fit her personality,
the whole metaphor of it.
She shrugged,
mumbled something about
how she just likes the way they look.

I decided not to pry.

I was not there
when she got
those angel bites
pierced into her lip,
but she told me the story after
about how the piercer
tried to talk her into
something else instead,
saying that her face was better suited
for snake bites
or maybe even a septum ring,
but she insisted that it had to be angel bites.
I complimented her,
said that her piercer was dead wrong
that she looks beautiful with her piercing of choice.
She offered me a wry smile in return.

She later started dressing in all white–
a Grecian goddess–
no concerns for the possible
red stains that come with periods
or green stains that come with
rolling around in the grass,
a preferred activity of hers–
not in a childish way,
but in a child-like way,
like she is constantly reliving
something she did growing up.
She had a particular favorite ivory dress
with a maxi-length skirt
and a low-cut back
that showed off
that beloved tattoo of hers,
and she would wear it
whenever we would go dancing.
She wore it so often, in fact,
that the hem developed a faint brown stain–
a result of the grime on those dance floors–
that never quite came out in the wash
no matter what she did.

Today, she told me that she had a secret
to share, something she rarely talks about,
and I hopped into her car
noticing once again the angel figurine,
though it was looking even worse for wear
than before–
the thread allowing it to dangle from the mirror
now replaced by a strand of brown yarn,
its face bleached to near bone-white by the sun,
its wings crumpled slightly
as if it had been crushed in a fist.

She drove us to the cemetery–
that one near the park
that we went to together
shortly after we met.
We parked and walked through the grass
to a headstone with her last name on it
and a set of feathery angel wings
carved in near the top.
The death date was nearly a decade ago,
but she had never mentioned this person to me.
Even standing there, she did not acknowledge
where we were,
what we were doing.
She only brushed her fingers across
those feather-like divots,
as tears began to stream down her cheeks.
She did not seem to notice
when her pearl top slipped off her shoulder
and her ecru skirt
whipped against her legs in the wind,
too caught up in the sadness
that I felt woefully ill-prepared
to provide comfort for.

Regaining some composure,
she turned to me and said,
“My mama said that a guardian angel
would look after me once she left,
but she has been gone a long time now
and I haven’t seen any guardian angels.”
And with one last sad, longing look
at the gravestone,
she turned and walked back to the car.

I scurried after her,
unable to form the words to tell her
that I could be her guardian angel
and that she was already mine.


.

Image by TuendeBede from Pixabay

On Tuesday, an explosion in Beirut, Lebanon killed over a hundred people and injured several thousand. With the corruption and inflation problems in Lebanon, it is hard to know how to help, so for this week’s resource, I would like to share this carrd about the current issues in Lebanon. It contains information about their revolution, economic crisis, and famine as well as organizations to which you can donate. I have heard that donating to the Lebanese Red Cross is especially helpful during this time.

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