the idea of a second heart

March 16, 2017

[ed. The still image is from Moonlight; the title and all poetry are from salt. by nayyirah waheed.]



i am always writing.
of you.
for you.

- breath | my people


Some things you just have to get off your chest before you can move on, and Philadelphia seems as perfect a place as anywhere to begin this attempt anew. Over nearly two months, I have started draft after draft of this blog entry. I have worked thematically in salt and in sea, in travel and in emotions, through climates, and through time zones without ever finding the poignancy I wanted. So, Philadelphia, a self-contained paradox, a city that has been everything and nothing to me, is where I begin another attempt at explaining this wound. In all honesty, I probably should avoid being this vulnerable about the pain of weeks-long fatigue, missed connections, misguided expectations, and lost opportunities. With my bags rifled through and my heart set upside down, I should have decided to keep my mouth shut. I'm supposed to be happy and healthy, and I'm supposed to keep my hardships as secret as a romance. That said, from my very first entry, I promised only honesty, even the unattractive kind; I suppose it's time I delivered.



expect sadness
you expect rain.
cleanse you




Love. This is about love. Falling into it and falling out of it, never really knowing it and breathing it and drowning in it. The City of Brotherly Love's Grecian roots always remind me of love's nuance. I grew up steeped in four-pronged love in a way that, perhaps, only someone soaked in Agape-branded churches could. Versed with words for affection beyond English's singular instance, I still found four facets entirely too flat. How could there only be friendship, family, romance, and unconditional loves? What about the love for a dream, a task, or a place? What about that playful love, the obsessed love, and the deranged love? What about the love for a breath of coffee or of the sea's salty air? All of these loves had no words, and so I learned the world would always be lacking.



i found flaws
they were beautiful

- ugly



Loss. This is about loss. Loss from theft and loss from negligence; loss of love, of passion, of drive, of desire and the ability to get out of bed and make that first cup of coffee; losing your health and losing your sense of self. Philadelphia's own John Dickinson may have said it best when he wrote "Liberty, perhaps, is never exposed to so much danger, as when the people believe there is the least." This vigilance is, I think, just as necessary elsewhere lest we lose our grip on our dreams or our joys. I entered this year with much less than I left the last, and in the center of this emotional matryoshka doll, there is an inspiring loss of naïveté. Paring back, I have to convince myself, is as healthy for humans as it is for orchards.



if your light falls out of your mouth
pick it up.
put it back).

- noor



Refuge. This is about refuge. Finding refuge and building refuge; washing up on the shore of a strange place knowing only that you have survived the storms and the splintering beams of a ship named Mirage and feeling the ground under your feet and under your hands and breathing again as you rise up with the newness of earth splayed out before you, ripe for discovery. At some point in all of this pining, I found myself in Xibalba, the Mayan underworld. There, buried under twenty meters of stone and another twenty feet of water, I realized one can only dive so deep. I came up for air gasping for a present that I had imagined; my cheeks split into rivulets over a person that never was. I caught my breath for the first time in weeks. I opened my eyes to a blurry promise of the future that could be. Landfall is always frightening; no one ever suggested homesteading wouldn't require building shelter.



i don't pay attention to the
world ending.
it has ended for me
many times
and began again in the morning



I still dream about what was lost this winter. With swift action, everything I thought I had been building over the previous year seemed to vanish. A camera and all of its work takes up little space in a bag but so much space in the soul. Can a person ever see with fresh eyes again? How many times are we allowed to fall in love? Every time I must backtrack, I am left to wonder from where I might find the strength to forge out again. As the wrong turns and dead ends pile up, I must calculate if it's worth braving the brambles one more time. I still haven't decided if I'll ever pick up a camera again. It feels childish and short-sighted when I write it out like this, but I am heartbroken. Was that love singular? Can it be rekindled or aroused elsewhere? In striking obviousness, I will never replace all the things I only ever thought I had. With their loss, though, is made room for all of the things I might find along fresh journeys; that heartbreak only opens up tenderness. Throughout all of life's trails and trials, I have always found more than I have lost, there has always been refuge, and love has always found a better definition than that which came before. This present will never be home, but neither was the past. With any luck, in the future, we might find more than shelter, shed no more than naïveté and pain, and find passion of unheralded depths.



the hard season
split you through.
do not worry.
you will bleed water.
do not worry.
this is grief.
your face will fall out and down your skin
there will be scorching.
but do not worry.
keep speaking the years from their hiding places.
keep coughing up smoke from all the deaths you have died.
keep the rage tender.
because the soft season will come.
it will come.
both hands in your chest.
up all night.
up all of the nights.
to drink all damage into love.

- therapy


I think I am ready, now.


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