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?
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.
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
DISCLAIMER: This is not a new year’s resolutions post. Or maybe it is. Whatever. Here’s a look at some of what I’ll be getting up to in this blessed 2018.
1. See a therapist. Often. More than once a week, if she doesn’t tire of me.
Self care is priority numero uno for me this year. In as many forms as it may take. Life for me ain’t been no crystal stair, and 2017 was the hottest of hot messes. I’ve had my brushes with depression, almost deep dived (dove?) into the pit last year, and I’m sensible enough to know that professional help is needed to unpack all the baggage if I’m to have a decent life going forward. Please, please, please pay attention to your mental health. There is absolutely no shame in seeing a therapist or counsellor. Don’t let society’s messed up views on this matter keep you bound.
I know we don’t observe Thanksgiving Day in Jamaica, and I also know it has a dodgy history in the States, but I believe in gratefulness as a principle, so that’s what I’m focusing on today. Studies have shown that there are many great benefits of gratitude, from improving your self esteem to helping you sleep better. And who can’t use some good sleep in these stressful times? The Bible is also replete with verses about giving thanks, even in the midst of discouraging circumstances, and as a Christian, gratitude should be my very nature.
Finished. Done. Finito. Acabado. Terminé. Fertig. Ti pari. Päättynyt. (That last one is apparently ‘finished’ in Finnish, according to Google Translate. I’m hilarious. Hahaha!) My writing course, the University of Iowa’s How Writers Write Fiction 2016: Storied Women, ended on Tuesday at 12:59AM, and I made it out alive! After three weeks of zero ideas and sucky drafts that had to be sent to the electronic version of ‘file 13,’ I was concerned that I’d end up punking out of the five-week course after only submitting three assignments. But I powered through the last 36 hours and wrote not one, but two stories—a total of 4,457 words. I wrote five stories over the course of five weeks, y’all! That’s 12,540 words—the most I’ve written since I was in third form and attempting to write the next best thing in teen romance, Sweet Valley High style. I #didthat! And then I slept practically all day Tuesday.
I’m now officially three weeks behind in my writing for the University of Iowa’s How Writers Write Fiction 2016: Storied Women course. I’ve spent the past two weeks cycling through various stages of panic, as the final ‘lecture’ will be posted this week, then the course closes on the 21st at midnight. Which means I have one week to churn out three assignments. Well, two, since I’m now waist deep into assignment three, finally.