July 19, 2018

A Letter to the Friend whose Demons look like Mine.

I want to tell you something.

You know those bits of you—
the dark, jealous, nervous, obsessive bits
you wish you could erase?
The ones you’d love nothing more than to extract
and bury deep in the soil?

Those are the bits I relate to most.

I might not talk about it much,
but I’m filled with them too.
It seems I’m constantly pulling on my battle suit,
just to get through the day;
to fight the little voices that menace and jeer.
And often they do wear me down,
just like you whisper they do to you.

On darker days, they linger, even multiply.
Those days they can get to be so heavy
that they force my head to slink to my shoulders,
and when they decide to run,
they make my heart beat like quicksilver.

Especially inky days
find me unable to clobber them at all.
Not without a louder voice, anyway.
And that one only pretends to help—
you know the one.
It’s the foe dressed up as a friend.
The one that shouts,
“Stop being so emotional;”
the one that doesn’t understand sheer humanity,
pointing its red tongue instead
toward character deficiency.

So, you see, our demons look rather the same.
The only difference is that I know more about yours
than you do mine.

Because you confide in me,
and I confide in paper.

You’re very brave, you know.

For a moment I was going to write,
“Much braver than I,”
because to me it seems remarkable
that you can cry in my arms.
And it is.
But I left out the “than I,”
noticing it belonged to just another voice,
another crimson voice striving to stir up trouble,
to make me feel less than.

In truth, there is no less than or better than.
There’s only difference.
I wish there was a way to quit assuming
the grass is always greener.
I wish we could step right off this grass
and see that the colours merely change shade,
emerald to forest to peridot, and back.

But I know our feet are so planted in our patches,
and to suggest we simply prance off our grass
is to discount too much.
Including those pieces of ourselves
that keep us gummed right where we are.

So if we can’t cut away those sticky bits,
and we can’t wish ourselves out,
we must learn to loosen the soil;
to tread slowly through it until we reach another’s.

And there?
There we must spill our souls;
shine a light on those demons that dance in the dark;
drip our glitter into each other’s empty bubbles.

(That is the purest medicine in my cabinet,
but I’m open to try more.)

Sometimes we wish we were “perfect.”
We wish we had no lonely bubbles to fill.
But without those, is it not possible
we would stay stuck in our own patches of grass

If you were everything you ever needed,
would you not sit on your pedestal
as I looked up at you,
squinting like I do the sun?

They say misery loves company,
but I say our lights merely glisten their brightest
when they know if they fizzle, even turn to black,
other lights will be there to guide them back.

So know this,
no matter how many stumbles and slips
you may take in your life,
I’ll continue to be there.

(More than likely, I’ll be tumbling along with you.)

And even if I’m entrenched in a sunny season,
when you find yourself in a wet, rainy one,
that doesn’t mean I won’t understand.
Just like I know when you’re in your sunny season
and I’m battling a storm, you’ll still understand.

Because no matter how drenched in yellow light we may be,
no matter how bronze our skin may glow,
liquid only needs to trickle down tissue
once, for us to remember
how it tickles forever.


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Mackenzie Belcastro

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