like smoke, she rises

she stands bare skinned in the bathroom 
stretch marks sketched along her hip bones 
cracks begin to settle in the depths of her skin 
and still you mirror every part of her she has come to despise

like a tattoo inked on the forearm of a lover
now a distant memory 
etched in the crevasses of her palm 

you once held her hand,
and the heavens trembled beneath her feet 
her pulsating heart
still bleeding blue 

in clenched fists
unbecoming of her worth
you begged to touch the sun in her face 
only for her to shrink herself into bite-sized pieces  

small enough for you to digest the brilliance of her beauty
yet too magnanimous in its magnitude for you to absorb and nourish 
your insatiable hunger

to prove her love,
she cascades desire at the mouth of the river bank
whispers mysterious into the wind
hallucinates dreams into the fullest crescent moon
and manifests light at the tapered bottom of a blackened sky 

still you recoil under the weight of your own smallness 
as she patiently waits
to taste sweet with you

light ablaze the tear soaked love notes folded between 
the nape of her neck 
and your front teeth 

a message your carrier pigeon heart 
didn’t know how 
to deliver

when her halo broke,
she carved the two halves into horns 

and the cosmos,
in all its expansive infinity aligned
so that she could breathe life back 
into the hellish abode of her very existence 

but beloved finally learned to read the signs 
no longer believed in the illusion of a world conspiring against her

for every dark and lifeless night,
she marveled in awe-filled wonder
as the moon and her stars colluded in brilliance 
to radiate her genius

and in her lonely,
absent of the leering, unsettled, critical gaze of an outsider within
she comforted the parts of herself 
no one else dared or knew how to touch 

asked questions which bled her into a corpse
of past lovers
and into the looming shadows 
of the ghosts of yesteryears 

and one by one 
strawberry coloured birthmarks formed 
along the dips and fractures 
of her tired bones 

between her navel
and the roundness of 
her breast

tracing, 
with her fingers, 
the goosebumped, blue-veined constellations 
along her torso 

connecting the dots 
as seamless and natural 
as the sun and her flowers in spring 

building a home within 
still haunted by the torment of 
a 100 years of solitude

she learned to master the stillness
of which bore the faint whispers of 
her murmuring heart

reminding her to breathe softly
at once surrendering the thoughts
that weighed heavily on her crown

as they fell one after another
into  
her
lap 

like a spilled glass of white wine 
dousing the burning blaze in her eyes 
the raging forest fires in her belly

a quiet sigh washes over her
inhale 
filling her intoxicated paper bag lungs  
exhale 

the smoke dancing all around her
rising,
rising, 
rising, 
gone.

lh
mar 2020

On Vulnerability (Part 2)

I think vulnerability can be a beautiful thing. It sparks a real and unadulterated connection between people. At best, it inspires a spiritual bond rooted in empathy and understanding. But maybe vulnerability is more than that. Some situations inevitably place us in this untimely circumstance of vulnerability. We’ve all been unexpectedly caught off-guard at some point at the hands of others. We react, often times, with an automatic response to our insecurities. We tirelessly try to hid what we (think we) lack, and then overcompensate to make up for it. Whatever it is. We overthink our words, and replay our interactions with others on repeat. It’s almost as though we are falling into a cycle of mourning. It feels as though we are losing parts of ourselves that we were never really ready to give up or reveal to the world just yet. In an age largely dominated by our online presence, this really shouldn’t come as a surprise to us. Our social media brands entirely depend on our ability to present ourselves as these perfect, always put-together individuals. It’s unrealistic, unattainable, and simply unfair. We are inherently imperfect and flawed. Yet we are willing to do whatever it takes to mask our imperfections. We filter, edit, and caption ourselves in a maddening craze for perfection. We give off an illusion of a life filled with serenity, peace, and happiness. In reality, our online presence is miles away from who we are in real time. Many of us are empty and unfulfilled. We are victims of our own self-inflicted pity and loneliness. The new age demands that we filter our thoughts and opinions, suppress our emotions, watermark our self-image, and do away with mediocrity all together. We are, in essence, overextending ourselves. We desire perfection, and aspire to greatness all the time. We do this all in an attempt to appear smarter, healthier, kinder, more sophisticated, more generous, more beautiful, etc. than we really are. It’s exhausting.  

Perhaps vulnerability is more nuanced than we think. Maybe our understanding of vulnerability is really just an illusion, a hoax. Perhaps our past experiences with vulnerability are really just filtered versions of the truth. This is not to suggest that they are fake or untrue by any means. They are partial truths – limited and calculated by nature. They are pieces of ourselves that we’ve already accepted. We think them over before sharing, and if we’ve decided it okay to share with others, we let it go unabashedly. So maybe this suggests that when I do feel unsettled, it’s because I’m uncomfortable with the parts of myself that I’ve revealed to others – even my loved ones. I haven’t accepted those parts of myself. These moments reveal a lot more about ourselves than we think. At times, I find myself turning over every little thing in my head. Did I say too much? Did I say too little? Did I say the right thing? This very battle in our heads is a symptom of fear, fueled by insecurity. It’s a fear of vulnerability. Deep down, we resist being vulnerable for fear of having to face our deepest and darkest insecurities. It’s a vicious cycle. Personally, I struggle at times to accept that I might not be as smart or as thoughtful or as critical or as important or as kind as I actually think myself to be. I say something that makes me sound stupid, or ignorant, or I’m caught off-guard. Then I’m unprepared with a refined enough response or reaction, so I scramble to recovery – of which there is no avail. I panic, and all I can think of is what others are thinking about me. What are they thinking about me right now in this very moment? The reality is that there’s a really good chance they’re not. Most of the time, no one has the energy to do that. And our loved ones – those closest to us – most definitely are not. They love us unconditionally. Unconditional love is a love that embraces the good, bad, and ugly parts of ourselves. We are loved, yet this struggle is pulling us in all sorts of directions because we are partially wired to be self-centered. We think that the world revolves around us. We think that every word uttered, that every look made in our direction, and that every whisper muttered under someone else’s breath has something (or even everything) to do with us. In essence, we are our Egos. Luckily for us, we have the power to control it. In moments of acute vulnerability, remember to breathe. Breathe in – reassurance, comfort, and ease. Breathe out – your Ego and insecurities. Deflate, get rid of, and release. Your fears do not define you. Your insecurities do not have power over you. So, let it go. We all need to be reminded every once in a while that we are enough. You are enough as you are in the here and now. And you will always be enough. You deserve to focus your energy on more important things. You are worthy of love and non-judgement. Tell your story. Share your narratives and lived experiences by embracing vulnerability. The world wants to hear from you. After all, you are a product of that which you give to the world. So, give generously.  

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