December 21, 2016

Leaves in My Hair. {Poem}


Leaves in my hair. 

Eight years ago my family drove me from the Midwest
to New York City
with a trailer attached to our green and rusty Nissan
and New York City welcomed me like one would
their least favorite relative—
hydrant spraying, bugs in cabinets, stray cats, and streets filled to the brim with trash
and I immediately fell prey
becoming what I thought was a worthy human and new yorker.
running from one thing to the next
drinking myself silly in hopes of finding love
saying “yes” to everything
until I would get sick
Dayquil and hangover cures—bodega sandwiches with extra mayo
I would run, sprint and then go to boot camp.
And I measured my worth by the amount of pain—
how many people I could date who were inherently afraid of intimate relationships
the amount of speed around the park loop
how many squats I had done that morning

Now when I run in the park
it is different.

I no longer run to measure my worth.
And I no longer say “yes” to everything.
Sometimes my greatest joy all week is in the slow crisp mornings when I cuddle up and enjoy my cup of coffee, candles, and bowl of oats.
I’ve become increasingly interested in the power of stillness and quiet
and it is in these moments where I make time to slow down
that I find that I’m returning to my true self.
Though it sometimes takes me half the loop to get there, and it is hard to hold onto this space for long
it’s from this space of stability and calm
where I remember who I am.
and it is from this space of stillness
that I now increasingly make a decision or say “f*ck yes” and mean it.


As I approach the lake at the bottom of the turn
somewhere between mile two and three of this prospect park run
there is a shift

the thoughts have already run wild
raced this lap 10 times over
music so loud
hoping to catch a
Questioning it all.

I’ve almost tripped
overflowing with frustration.

But then, gravity pulls
my thoughts settle down deep

And I begin to see—
people riding by on horses
a couple feeding the swans
picnic baskets—baguettes and wine

I run off the path to admire the sunny patch between two massive tree trunks
Picking up a bright yellow leaf with red veins so thick

Sun shimmering all over the lake
Skateboards swerving in and out of the runners with magic
Dance-walking tribe cruises by.

I pause listening to the drum circle

strangers enjoying soccer with makeshift goal posts
fist pumps and high fives
wide grins -scooters and watermelon helmets
A man walking in the opposite direction—
kind nod beneath his warm beard
The heap of bikes besides the flag football game
Scarves, newspapers, and hands held tight
It’s somewhere between mile two and three
Where there is a shift
And then I see
I allow my music to soften

and I laugh.

I pause with the vibrations of the drum circle
The heat from the sunny patch
The soul of the bright yellow leaf with red veins so thick
The wildness of the people on horses
And the friendship of lovers
And I’m full of joy from the picnic
I flow with the skateboard’s magic and the dance-walking tribe’s waltz.

finishing this lap, I battle the thoughts slowly inching up my spine
refusing them
I collapse to the ground
allowing the earth to cradle me
brave enough to let my ear buds fall to the ground
and drink in all the sounds

I wonder how long I can lay here in my body
with the leaves kissing my shoulders and grass holding my hand

what if I maintained stillness?

It wouldn’t be the next phone call or errand
it wouldn’t be loud or big or intense

I’d probably admire the branches and the clouds a little longer
I’d take another sip of this sweet air
Maybe a dog, squirrel, or fate would
nudge in one direction

but one thing is damn sure
when I move from this space

there will be leaves in my hair
a trail of dirt down my back
a gentle smile on my lips
my head will be the last to rise
it will be something slow from deep in my chest

it will just be.



Author: Sarah Fishstrom

Image: Pixabay

Editor: Molly Murphy

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