It will whisper in the wind and ask of you the unreasonable: Can you break down that Jericho wall that guards your heart— the one you built with the debris of unkept promises and broken dreams?
Will you rend that blanket of false security— that tattered, threadbare thing you stitched together with skeins of lies and distractions that now reeks with the musk of fear?
It will crook its finger and beckon, asking you to believe the impossible: that anything is possible, and that you can chase away the darkness with a mere pinprick of light.
You know it’s not easy to let hope in. Easy is to accept things as they are, easier still to expect the worst. But hope expects you to work.
It gives you its infinitesimal spark and requires you to tend it, add kindling and gently fan that first tender, orange flame until a fire roars.
Then it will gently touch your shoulder and ask you again: Will you reach out your hands— let the heat warm the cold fingers of the hands you’ve been wringing in despair, let feeling come back into your body until, cell by cell, you feel alive again?
And with the lifeblood pumping through your veins, the spark now aglow in your eyes, will you dare to try one more time?
This one took some doing, but we got ‘er done and she is glorious!
Last year took a lot from us—loved ones, jobs, opportunities, freedom of movement, peace of mind, and the list goes on. By the time we got to December, we were looking forward to the new year with an almost desperate hope, pleading for 2021 to be better.
We know there’s no magic wand to make all the challenges disappear, but there’s indeed something kind of magical about the turn of the year—maybe it’s the energy of billions of people collectively putting their hopes and dreams out into the atmosphere. It’s inspiring and challenges us to dare for more, no matter how the previous year turned out. It’s that excitement of expectancy that led me to focus on HOPE for issue no. 3 of Alayo magazine, which was published at the end of January.
Take a look inside and see how some of my readers held on to hope in the middle of a chaotic year and how they plan to keep looking forward despite the challenges 2021 has already thrown our way.
I don’t write because I am afraid. I am afraid of my words. I am afraid to search for my words, of what I’ll find when I plumb the depths of my feelings to unearth them. I am afraid of turning on the spigot and having them rush out —or trickle. Or worse, there is not a single drop because the works have rusted from lack of use.
I am afraid of my voice because the silence in which I suffer has become my brittle chrysalis and making any sound might cause it to shatter. I am not quite ready or able to be a butterfly.
I am afraid of cutting myself open, my blood the ink on the page from wounds that won’t heal because I’m afraid to tend to them, too.
I am afraid. Of standing naked before myself and picking myself apart letter by letter until I am just bones.
But sometimes a word claws its way out of my belly and plops upon the page. I look at this strange thing that came out of me and it’s ugly and misshapen but also, somehow, beautiful.
I am so afraid. But fear is a casket and I am not yet dead.
So I will go in search of them, those elusive words that are sometimes at the tip of my pen and tongue. I will write myself into my own life’s story letter by letter even on crumpled pages until I am whole.
I hope to someday be eloquent enough, gifted with the right combination of words strong enough to hold the weight of how it feels to know and be known by your heart, to have it be the place mine comes to rest.
Until then, these three words will have to do— filled past capacity, bursting at the seams: I love you.
If you’ve spent any time around me, you ‘know’ my Miss Rena. I probably talk about her at least once a day, on average. She definitely crosses my mind at least once every day. Born Ena Mae Attride on this day in 1927, she was my grandmother by virtue of being the woman who raised my mother. She was a small, feisty, half-Cuban former floor show dancer who would not hesitate to tell you about yourself, especially if you dared cross her or trouble her own. Think Madea, minus the gun and getaway car. In her younger days, she probably would have fought you, too. She often shared the story of how she was expelled from secondary school (I think it was Convent of Mercy) because she hit one of the Sisters after being caned.
It’s been ages since I shared anything here and since BlueHost is still collecting my coins for hosting and whatnot, I figured I should stop wasting the real estate. So here goes. This is Graduation, a piece loosely inspired by true events. It’s the first story I wrote that I let anyone see since my epic teen novel instalments in 2nd form and I wrote it in 2009, more than a decade after I’d stopped writing for fun. I was rusty and being the self-judgey writer that I am, I’m sure it showed, but it still copped a silver medal in the JCDC Creative Writing Competition, so we thank God! Anyhoodle, I felt like sharing, so I hope you enjoy!
And suddenly you’re just a body
the things you owned and prized
left to be cast or given away —
the books you read, plus the ones you never got around to
knickknacks and mementos you never could part with
jeans you swore you’d fit into again someday
new nighties and underwear and fresh towels
folded away in a bag in your closet
just in case you were ever admitted to the hospital
your favourite, well-worn Sunday church shoes
plus the new ones still shiny and spotless in their boxes
pictures from beach trips and parties and birthdays
and embarrassing candid shots
your signature smile or belly laugh flash frozen in each one
— picked to the bone by family and friends
desperate to hold on to a piece of you
even those who never bothered to hold you
while you were still a life
The rest will be thrown into bags and boxes
detritus left outside the gate
to await their own demise
Next you’re a memory
your best moments
in a looping highlight reel
played and replayed at future gatherings
and in dark and lonely hours
to help soothe the pain
Then one day there are no more tears
and slowly you begin to fade
your image disintegrating
drifting away on the wind
swirling around like ashes
returning to the earth like dust