Her hands were tools of love. The world is her stone and her hands carve into the rock with a delicate yet powerful force. To some, the impact is violent and painful, leaving behind cracks and chips in the facade of their mountain face. To most, her incisions are intricate caresses of adoration and appreciation. The curves are smooth and meticulously crafted, for wherever she grants her touch is a blessed place she cherishes with every fiber of her being. Like the warm embrace of a parent, the familiarity envelopes you without ever making her acquaintance. It is as if she were always there and it is easy to feel her warmth without apprehension. It feels as if life itself could not have existed before her, and yet you came to be in this moment without ever having seen her before. She is beautiful in the most ethereal yet chimeric way a creature can exist. Still, how could she exist? While her touch is calming and congenial, her flesh never reaches you. How, then, could we know she is sublunary? Could it be in the way her words reach your ears, or the way her art appears on the walls of the world? Should we choose to believe in her regardless, or must she prove herself secular? The selfish may wish to expose her in egotistic greed for knowledge, or the power of knowing, but the truly wise will accept her embrace with open arms and live knowing that her notion is enough.
A Cold Morning
The morning was cold and quiet like snowflakes falling to Earth. I take an even step onto the porch, nursing a cup of coffee in glove-clad hands as the heat produces billowing steam into the crisp air. I lean back against the house as I look out onto the land, my eyes skiing across the frozen pond before landing on the distant barn. Furrowing my brows, I hold my breath to listen more closely. I finish off my coffee with a bit more haste, dropping the mug off in the house before making my way to the barn. It’s unusual for my girls to make such a racket, bellowing so loudly. I keep a decent pace, quickly arriving at the barn. I crack open the door, grunting softly as I push it open. All of the cows are raising hell, their cacophonous lowing ringing throughout the barn. I whistle as I look at my biggest girl, Pearl; she’s on the ground snorting and mooing in distress.
“No wonder you were being so loud, mama.” I walk over to my work station, taking off my warm gloves to replace them with a long, plastic one on my right arm before walking back over to her pen. I push away some clumped up straw and get behind her, sliding my hand in her rear to check the condition of the baby. It feels like it’s coming out the correct way, except for the fact that its limbs are giving Pearl some trouble. “I hope you haven’t been like this too long, ol’ girl.” I slide my hand out after pushing the calf’s limbs into better positions and let Pearl push some more, but she doesn’t seem to make much progress.
I sigh, jogging more frantically over to my work station. I dig around, looking on the shelves and hooks for some chains. “Damn, you’d think I’d have chains lying around everywhere.” I dredge up some chains from a large chest next to my workbench after a bit of searching. I pat Pearl’s head softly as I walk behind her with the chains. “Don’t worry, girl. We’ll get it done.” By now, the other cows have quieted down some and the only sound is Pearl’s pained grunts and the clanking of the chains as I reach in to loop them around the calf. I curse softly to myself, having trouble getting the chains in place with one hand. I drop them on the ground and jog back to the workbench, swiftly pulling another glove on before moving behind Pearl once more. I reach in with the chain, grabbing the calf’s leg to secure the chain to it. I do the same to the other leg and slide the limbs into place, hoping to make the process go smoother. I pull my hands out with a huff before standing up, the opposite ends of the chains in my hands. I take a deep breath and tug softly to make sure that the chains don’t slip off immediately.
“Alright big girl. This’ll be cake, yeah?” I loop the chains around my hands for a better grip since the discharge covering the gloves is as slick as oil. I take a deep breath and pull, using my body weight as I plant my feet and lean back, tugging the chains. Pearl is quiet as she pushes, her body visibly contracting as she tries to force the calf out. I see the hooves start to emerge just as my hands start to slip again. I adjust my stance and reaffirm my grip on the chains, scolding myself for getting them covered in the slippery discharge.
“Come on, mama. Just a little more.” I start pulling the chains again, the links pinching against my hands as they bend against the force. My foot slips slightly on the puddle of blood and discharge on the ground, but I quickly recover and keep pulling as Pearl pushes. I watch as the calf slowly slides out, eventually flopping onto the ground. I quickly get on my knees, wiping the mucus from its nose and mouth. Vigorously rubbing the calf, I try to get a response. I feel worried because of the cold temperature, but I continue stimulating the calf until it snorts, shaking its little head. I smile softly and drag it over to Pearl so she can clean it off.
“Congratulations mama.” I say before walking off to get a heat lamp for the new little family.
The Creature Lies
I look forward, yet I cannot see. Although reflected, I am blind to reality. I stare into myself, a stranger; this face is not a passerby or someone I will ever meet on the street. A stranger, I think, yet I am intimately familiar with her without ever having truly met her. The creature of my existence who puppeteers this stranger hides inside us, hiding behind the mirror. I look unto her in admiration, but the beast whispers lies until she is warped and misshapen. I am filled with disgust and must avert my eyes, turning away from the stranger who has become impossibly foreign despite my laying eyes on her everyday.
“She is the beast,” it whispers. “She is a creature of misfortune and misery. You must get rid of her.” It clutches onto my very being and digs its claws into the essence of my existence, flooding the train with thoughts of despair and messages of hate.
As time passes, it becomes quiet. The creature is pleasant. It’s always been pleasant to most strangers, but it wasn’t to her even though she’s the stranger we’ve known since the start of time. I’ve come to convince it. Granted it took time, but as the silence billows about the train, the creature is calm. It sees something it doesn’t like but has learned to forgive the stranger; forgive her for the skin she was born into, forgive her for the bones that make up her physique. I offer a soft smile to the creature in appreciation.
The stranger is her own undoing and salvation synchronically, but she couldn’t have known over the sound of the beast’s writhing and whispering. I sit across from her as the sun rises behind us and stare into myself. I do not avert my eyes, but offer a sigh. She is a stranger I am intimately familiar with, and I find myself becoming more fond of her each time we sit together in silence. We can only look at each other in the same instance, but that is enough to find her eyes and tell her it is okay as the creature quietly agrees.
Life’s but a walking shadow.
For some, it is a constant presence that follows them reliably as they traverse the unknown that is their future, like a friendly figure that paints the sidewalk behind you on a bright, summer day. It is an afterthought that you only come to recognize in moments of quiet acknowledgement; when you’re contorting your hands to make blobs that resemble dogs or frogs. Life is a friend who silently watches as you exist and grow, and it grows alongside you.
For others, it is a monster. The shadow in the corner of your eye as you walk around your house alone in the night. It is that dark spot across the room in the form of a man, or the form of a creature who could reach out and touch you. It is a source of fear, like a child being chased by their own dark figment for the first time. Their shadow is a constant presence that follows them reliably, constantly nagging at their brain as they wish for peace and pray for help. Their shadow carries a weight, and it blocks out the light of the sun until there is nothing but shadow and they can only blame the dark for every iniquity of the life befallen them until they wish for nothing. They wish for the shadow to be gone, even if there is no sun thereafter.
Life’s but a walking shadow.
I sigh, rolling out of bed as I do every morning. I stretch my tired limbs and the bones pop and crack with each movement as I take a moment to breathe in the dark of my room as I sit on the edge of the bed. Wiping a hand over my face, I yawn before standing up and trundling to the bathroom to start the day. The morning is quiet as I amble through the house, moving to the kitchen after washing my face and brushing my teeth to make myself a coffee. Before I can grab a mug from the cupboard, the shrill ring of my phone pierces the air. I grab it and groggily reply, “Hello?”
“Hey, do you have a minute?” It’s Reese. I recognize their voice, although the usual vibrant tone is gone and replaced with a shaky, somber timbre. Knowing something is amiss, I run a hand through the jungle that is my hair as I reply.
“Of course, Ray. Did something happen?” A few seconds pass, the once peaceful silence of my dark home becoming heavy with anxiety.
“They called and said Adrien died last night.” The words are strained as they pass into my ear and I let out a breath, my eyes squeezing shut. I feel sickness bubble up in my throat and my eyes open, darting to the window. It’s still dark outside and the twilight casts a blue tint over the street. I walk over and shut the curtain before leaning against the counter.
“Are you serious? What happened?” My hand finds its way to my hip as my grip tightens on the phone. I nibble on my lower lip.
“They said it was another hit.” I scoff out softly in disbelief, shaking my head.
“That’s the third one this month, isn’t it? God, this is bullshit.” I dig my heel into the floor, anger pulsing through me before I remind myself of Reese on the other line. I sigh and relax my tense shoulders. “How are you doing? I know how close you two were.”
“I’m managing. Comes with the territory, you know?” They let out a dry laugh. “God, it’s like the time he got shot, do you remember that?” I huff out a laugh.
“Yeah, that asshole was begging to get lit up the way he ran in there. I’m surprised he only got shot once.” Reese sighs lightly, humming into the phone as they reminisce.
“I guess he wasn’t so lucky this time around.” I tut softly at their words.
“It’s not really about luck, they’ve been at our throats for weeks now.” I pause before speaking again, debating with myself. “To be honest, I wanted to say I’m glad it wasn’t you but that isn’t very appropriate, is it?” I shake my head, bringing my hand to my mouth to bite the tip of my thumb. “I’m sorry. It’s just - I’m glad you’re okay.” Reese doesn’t reply immediately and we sit in silence, the soft noise of the phone call becoming deafening in my ear. I feel my cheeks heat up in shame for having said that.
“Well, I can say the same. Guess we should try to find solace somewhere, right?” I let my hand fall away from my mouth and push off the counter softly.
“Yeah, I guess so.” I mutter. I grab a mug and fill it with the warm coffee but don’t move to drink it. “I’m really sorry, Reese. Maybe it’s best if we see about staying with each other until this shit blows over.” My fingers tap against the cold marble next to my mug.
“I’ll make a call in a few hours. I’ll let you know what they say.” I sigh, waiting for them to continue.
“Hey, if you need anything, you’ll let me know, right?” I ask softly.
“Sure, Con. Just - I’ll see you later.” Before I can reply, the call ends. I hold the phone to my ear for a couple more seconds, staring out into my dark, empty home. I grit my teeth, throwing the phone to the floor before kicking the lower cabinet doors with the back of my heel as I yell out.
My Words Are Like Glass.
I was watching Cyrano (2021) and was moved to action, so here is a sort of love letter for my one.
My words are like glass, shattered on the ground. For you, I try to mend the pieces, lining the edges to mold them back into frame only to spill crimson tears, my fingertips weeping as they are at a loss. No matter my thoughts or my feelings, I cannot express the words from my lips or convey to you the depth and truth of your influence on my mind and heart.
Yet I am desperate. My hands shake and quiver, reaching for another shard. Further I slip, as the pieces are drenched in the red passion of my very being, casting a vermillion sheen onto the floor as the sun beats down on my hesitant hands, passing through the transparent, meaningless prose I struggle to compose. The only meaning one can glean from my fragmented shards of admiration come from not the glass itself, but the ruby hue manifested from my own incompetence.
It is raw and unfiltered, painful and agonizing in the worst, most helpless of ways. To see you, and love you day after day only to fall short of crafting a mosaic with these stained scraps feels as if my chest could implode from the sheer shame and embarrassment.
Everyday there are windows; I can see through to other worlds and catch a glimpse of a fraction of what I see in you, but never the same. For you, it is indescribable. A pane never-ending as it reflects part of me into the infinity of forever. A window to your soul, peering from yours to mine and we are like neighbors. Everyday, reflecting one another. I break and smash countless panes of glass, taking each shard that could hope to encapsulate you but nothing will ever fit. They can never elucidate the way the sun reflects off of your form, or how the rain cascades over the planes of your face.
Nothing will ever capture you in essence, or even jargon, or come close to how you shine. The glass bites and nips at my fingers but I persevere with mangled digits as if I were Sisyphus of the spoken word, but only a child in my elementary execution as I fall further down the mountain, never to reach the peak that is you in your purest and most exact incarnation. I must apologize, but as in myth I will continually devote myself to finding every shard, every piece that will carry this message of appreciation and respect, my unspoken words of love and bashful fawning.
Drabble from a Phrase
I thought of a phrase and loved it so I wrote around it just so I could post it.
The way you operate is without shame, toying with the innocent and trusting nature of those around you. You are cruel and unwavering in the hate you besiege kindness with. You are cold. An actor, you feign ignorance and remain without bliss. If only once, I pray you’d be overwhelmed with indignity as people would see who you really are, what you truly desire of them. Yet, the unworthy remain unsoiled but dirtier all the same. Let this curse ring true upon your deaf ears; your transgressions are following your every spite, tracing it back to you until you reap what you sow. It will not be long before they catch you and rip out your silver tongue, using it to spit back the sour fate you so callously impart on others.
But a Child
Frail and sickly she’s been, light as a feather.
It’d been months of her feeling under the weather.
Cold and pale as the winter months, shaky breaths would escape her lungs.
Pitiful, it sounded, yet strong all at once.
I knew why she was lying there, but try as I might, she didn’t want to fight.
Despite the months of quiet suffering, my constant hovering, she’s but a wight.
A lost cause, enshrouded with gauze and a heart scorned, contrite.
But who is she, encased in cotton?
A being shriveled and desiccated, withered and rotten?
She's a child, born exactly as I.
Open to joy, excited, bright-eyed.
But over the years, she has been worn down.
Battered and beaten too many times to count.
And with each rap of cruel iniquity,
her eyes still shine, but only just dimly.
For as the pins stab and the needles break skin,
she still holds hope to embrace joy again.
Indulge I shall.
Indulgence. Once it was well meaning - I would luxuriate in all the delicious morsels I could get my hands on. He would indulge me.
Eat. Eat. Eat. Even once I was full I could only eat. Overwhelmed by this fervent urge to consume. It wasn't noticeable for quite a while, until my family got worried. They hadn't seen me in three years. I miss them. I miss them, but I could never see them. Not now. He's the only one who loves me. The only one who could ever love me like this.
The room is dark. It's become dank over time, what with the leak quietly drip-dripping at a soft monotonous pace. I can hardly breathe anymore. Every time he comes down I end up vomiting on myself, but I just can't stop eating. Eat. Eat. Eat.
I start to feel disgusting. I know I'm a wretched creature, bloated and covered in oily grime. Yet, I always forget. As he thrusts spoonful after spoonful into my mouth with that smile on his face, I can't help trying to smile back as I scarf down all the nutrients he gives me. I choke sometimes; it's hard enough to breathe without food obstructing my throat. Yet he just smiles at me so softly, silently encouraging me to keep going.
I do so greedily. Nobody else would be here. Nobody else should be here. It's just us. It can only be us. I'll do anything he wants me to if only to see that smile. I choke, bile rising in my throat and thrusting all the food I'd just been fed down my chest. I feel embarrassed, but he smiles wider. I shakily smile back as he brings the spoon to my lips again. Just once more, this last time, I allow myself to revel in his smile.