“Tell me who you are,” she says when I look at her in puzzlement. “Tell me who you believe yourself to be.”
I can describe myself with the pale skin I am in, the dusting of freckles, the shape of my clothes; but how will I tell you who I am? When I wake, I wake alone. Is this the person that I am all creased with sleep and cloak heavy from dreaming?
I know the image of myself: small pools of green, the soft rushes of brow, the slight curve of nose and the tiny mouth too small to have kept such screams within.
Is the sum of who I am today made up only of everything I was? Am I nothing but a mass of infinitesimal moments bound together by muscle, nerve and neuron? Am I grazed knees and scraped elbows grown over— a fisted heart whose blood has thickened over time and lent itself to longing as a bird lends itself to breeze? Am I as impatient as my first kiss, as lonely as my first tears or as mad as my first loss?
I can belie who I am not and bellow who I want to be; but where am I in the middle ground?
As a child I would scare myself by walking while staring into a mirror, walking on the sky as it were. Am I this child who still has my head in the sky tripping up on the clouds? Am I the twist of my grandmothers thumbs bringing the flush of roses to my cheeks? Or am I a woman grown patrolling my boundaries lest you ask me who I am or who I mean to be?
For you, I am at a loss as to myself, as though I have set myself free at last tumbling in open air bending only to the shape and shift of your being. I am the blood vessels that flower in anticipation of touch; I am the breathing that is measured by the steady drum of your pulse. Allow me to know myself set forth in the open air and tumbling within the shape and shift of you.
For today this knowledge is enough: knowing that I am your thought when your eyes rest upon the new moon and marvel the evening star. I am rescued and a warrior: the survivor of battles that you will never see, the singer of melodies that have long since fallen way and yet all I am is upon your lips.
I am happy for now to turn my scars toward you as we lay side-by-side in darkest night, hands clasped as though we are new to the world. And for a moment we are all there is, new to the world. And I am wise enough to know that I still am and will ever be, richer for the lands we plundered when life has carried you away.
Want 15 free additional reads weekly, just our best?
Assist Ed: Miciah Bennett/Ed: Sara Crolick