Don’t hide behind a hashtag. Be the change you want to see. Support your fellow women. Believe them when they tell you a man you know has molested them. Don’t belittle them in response. Don’t tell them that’s just how it is. Don’t be a silent victim, speak up if you have been harassed. Teach your children to have self-respect and voices of their own. Raise your sons to be feminists and your daughters to be respectful to them in return. Don’t expect women to be better than men. We are not. We are just as flawed. Don’t call yourself goddess or a queen. We are all humans. Just imagine if men called themselves gods and kings. Don’t call other women bitches just because they disagree with you. Don’t sell yourself short for a relationship. Don’t objectify other women or reduce them to their looks. As an artist, create the content that you miss. Write female leads without abuse. Don’t tell their stories in relation to a man but let them be strong for themselves. Don’t support violence. Don’t promote, condone or further it on stage or screen. Don’t be a part of what in real life you oppose. Take responsibility for your actions. Simply practice what you preach.
20°, the sun unusually strong for a day in mid October. A woman leans against a tree, her feet bare on the grass still luscious green. Her bike right next to her, her head buried in a book – she makes me pause. A group of seniors playing cards on a stump. Fallen trees all around them like wooden corpses as the last remnants of a storm so heavy it knocked out an entire city for a day. Unusual for us. I look at them, the splinters, bark and branches. They make me sad. All those golden crowns depleted on the ground, the random specks of red like drops of blood. My park was wounded badly, I can see that now. And every tree that lost its grip with roots too weak to withstand a tempest on muddy ground slows my steps and makes my heart cry out. How vile that force of nature, a tantrum really, sudden, crass. Such a reflection of my year or less self-centered: the world at large. That’s why the woman sitting by the tree caught my attention. Engulfed still by her story, she oozes calm.
Across from me on the train sat a large man of Greek descent or so at least my guess, his middle-age bordering the old, his eyes warm and friendly. His arm full of roses, their colour pink and so intense they rivaled the beauty of a sunrise half-hidden in a cloud-cluttered sky. Next to him a woman, her skin mocha smooth, her red-rimed glasses giving her an air of quirky elegance. And as we exchanged a smile over flowers displayed to us in such magnificence, her eyes lit up infecting mine. It was a smile I carried with me on my way to work as I poked along, past worker bees and office ants and parents in a rush tugging at their children’s nerves, always ready to be the first ones at their daily crosswalk, bakery or coffee shop. I shrugged them off, their rage mild today, unfeasible somehow with the sun still lurking behind some sleepy clouds. So when I reached my morning hangout, my mood was balanced, frolic even – minus the fatigue I cannot shake without my first hot chocolate of the day. So I placed my order and my favorite waiter met my smile, then brightened it by knowing exactly what I wanted. “Almond milk, an espresso and a croissant,” he beamed, “Early morning order. Busy day.” I nodded. “And with a start like today, I don’t mind one bit.”
I’ve always been the intellectual type
with a slight touch of squee
but all I see these days are swaying hips
and my heart skips a beat
not for some strange allure or sass
but for the memory of you
and the future that I longed to have
when my mind met yours
and with one look you lit my soul
Hope is a glass half full wishing for a refill while being trapped in an entity that’s easily broken, its shattered remnants piercing your heart with fragments of dreams long crushed, scarring your soul if you don’t find the essence of your one true love.
Two days of summer this year. August 30 and finally a clear blue, no clouds anywhere to be seen except those plane-painted lines up high in the azure. To say this year so far has left me unscarred, my soul untainted, my heart intact would be a lie, but through my tears I’m finally able to embrace my blessings. No need to count them really because for every blow I took, a gift was there to help me breathe, so they were plenty. I just had to see them through the mist of heartache, rage and longing. My favorite season blown away by wind, the heat I need to make it through a long gray winter washed away by storms and heavy rains – the weather matching my mood so painfully, my life, my situation. Or was my mood inflicted on me by a sun just smiling in absentia, depriving me of energy and warmth? On the days that counted she was always there, however, shining through a cloud-cluttered sky. And although my skin’s still pale, my heart still bleeding from every dream that burst this year making my smile look crushed, these two days of summer have lifted my spirits and patched me up. With autumn fast approaching, I hope this vigor, verve and and vim will last.
I hear a seagull laughing in the sky as it passes by my window and instinctively I turn around to share my amazement with you, but you’re not there of course. I often feel your presence like this, see things I’d love to show you, details I know you would appreciate. But then I remember, you are not part of my life the way I wish you were and yet you’re always there. It’s that kind of madness that drives me out of my mind, an ambiguity laced with longing, palsy and desire. I close my eyes just for a moment, my heart taking me back to us first sharing an honest smile, a joke, a laugh. It sent a jolt through my body then, made me quake. I was so unprepared for how you made me feel, so at ease and yet so tense, reminding me of everything I wanted and everything I missed. It was then that I realized what an emotional wreck I had been and without knowing it, you told me why and showed me a way to be true to myself again.
Now this is new to me: I’m numb. I hear your voice and wish to cry but I have no tears left, nor do I feel anything else. No joy, no pain, no indifference – nothing. It is as if my feelings have dried out, my heart, although my soul is still aching for you as it hears the fraction in your voice, that little crack as it breaks away while you’re trying to convince me of your well-being.
I do not like not feeling, not being but a shell of myself, stripped of my emotions. Is this a side effect of loving you so much without the rewards of having your love in return? Has my heart decided to take a vacation now from being bruised and has forgotten how much you also lift me up by just being you, by being there – if only in the distance – that your mere existence means the world to me and lets me breathe?
I never expected to miss shedding tears over you, to crave the impact of your soul revealed to me like no one else before, pulling me down on the floor, crippling me. But never have my tears left me as jaded and empty as not feeling anything, not even my heart beat in my own chest. And I wonder how long this will last, because I rather break down every night and long for you waking up than being stripped bare and soulless like this. Without emotions I simply do not now how to exist.
There they are again, my tears, because what you say resonates so much, touches my heart in a way you’ll never know but probably understand without me saying anything. I just don’t have the words to express myself to you, admits the writer, the one whose love flows right into another poem to hold onto them, my feelings for you out of control. Before you I never believed in that bond I feel whenever you send a picture or a line. But your timing is so impeccable, throws me off balance for you always seem to know when to say what I need to hear or when something preoccupies my mind.
And then last night
they all crushed down on me
forced me on my knees
shook me deep
and left me curled up like a ball
lying weeping on the floor
my heart ripped out
my gut wide open
gaping like a wound
Your pull so strong
my love so raw
How was I supposed to know
that you could reach me
oh so deep
uplift and hurt me
kill me sweet
your voice a dagger in my heart
a rose with thorns
my chocolate salted in a cup
A rainbow on my cloudy days
a smile from you
and through my tears
I do feel blessed
and love you more
although my eyes are red and sore
from wanting you so much
my number one priority