Jeweled

I would stand in the shadow of the hallway leading out into the wide open space,
looking for you in the distance.
People would rush past, intent on not wasting any more time than it took for them to get there,
and I would linger, my eyes searching for you amidst the sea of bodies.

Alas, I would find your smiling eyes,
your laughter booming from where I stood and before then,
you would see me in the shadows and smile knowingly,
and I would make my way out to you,
myself beaming in mutual acknowledgment.
You would slide over to make room for me,
or demand that whoever blocked the way do the same,
as I was sitting nowhere except beside you.

In the evenings, we would sit on the couch in your living room,
our knees touching absentmindedly as you told me about your day,
of all the people you interacted with,
and I would listen, all smiles, and we would laugh over the stupid bits,
and then you would venture into your kitchen,
throw white rice onto a skillet, mix in kimchi and chili sauce,
and make the best bokkeumbap I would ever have,
and pack extra in foil for my mom as she loved it too.
You made food for me because you loved me,
and I loved you anyway, though the food was a bonus.

We would resume our positions on the couch after dinner,
our legs criss-crossing over each other,
there in our contented fullness,
high on life and on the daily presence of one another,
counting on each other to be there every other night,
to keep out the world and keep in this love,
a love that neither of us would acknowledge,
as we enjoyed the limbo we resided in far too much,
as we enjoyed a sisterhood that would always edge into something else,
as we went on with the outside world,
and the boyfriends we tried on like cheap shoes.

Everyone else was temporary, and we were permanent.
We protected each other like alphas
who could sense an external threat from miles away,
and no one crossed our path successfully unless permitted.

I think of you now, as I begin a new journey of transformation and progress.
As I attempt to navigate the waters of conventional accomplishment and fulfillment,
as I feign enthusiasm and earnestness for things I know nothing of,
things I may only partially believe in lest I am proven wrong.
I think of our shared wildness, our shared rebellion,
the ways in which we made each other feel insurmountable, indestructible.
Of our innate sense of what it meant to be young women
who demanded more than the world would offer us,
who demanded an entire universe and nothing less.
I think of the ways in which you were my sister, my friend.

I think of a love that remains forever gilded in a precious time long ago,
a time of ceaseless wonder and defying possibility.

As I inhabit this novel space of adult normativity,
I remain as wild and as rebellious as we ever were,
our spirit flowing through my veins like the air I breathe,
as I fight for the quintessential person I have always been.
The world I have crafted expands brightly before me,
and while I am filled with a deepening affection to move forward,
I will think of you in time, in the things I do,
in the moments when I have strayed from that old path,
the path of wildflowers and moonlight.

Somnus

You fill my dreams of late,
dark as they have always been,
like the still surface of an obsidian pond,
smooth, untarnished, metallic.

Seen to ignorant eyes as fine glass,
this body of water is eerie to behold,
its blackness slow and deliberate, deceptively motionless.
You cannot look away,
for this marvel is pristine, delicate, and beautiful
despite its ominous intent.
It isn’t till you step onto that lacquered surface
that you realize it isn’t solid.
My water runs deep into the earth,
hiding all manner of its physical environment,
there to lure your senses into believing the imagination.

You fill my thoughts in waking daylight,
a reminder that I must confront gray matter,
that I must pay particular attention
to the delicacies of modern interaction,
lest I become trapped in my fortress.

I’m peeved by your blatant display of emotion.
I bristle at your easy affirmation and manageable offenses.
I was forced to inherit my conditioning
despite my complete incompatibility in conjunction with it.
When I declared myself, I was criticized and demoralized.

I’m volatile and vicious when I’m between states of insensibility.
Perhaps I’m incurable of this underlying rage
that I am to confirm and submit so easily
when there is so much at stake.

Hauntings

You make me better than I was yesterday,
than I have been all these passing years,
darker and deeper than the shell I have inhabited,
down in the cloisters of regret and heartbreak.

Alas, I have been living as a ghost of my former life,
uninhabitable and restrictive of my former generosity,
of all the things I have since renounced whether by choice or coercion.

I am ashamed that I let all that love go to waste,
let my soul break away and drift aimlessly.

It is refreshing to be in this body again,
to see anew with these old eyes,
to behold the sun in her dazzling glory,
to admire the moon in her glowing beauty.

It all means infinitely more,
this new heart that beats in its gilded cage,
all thanks to you,
to a friend.

Love After Love

The time will come when, with elation
you will greet yourself arriving
at your own door, in your own mirror
and each will smile at the other’s welcome
and say, sit here. Eat.
You will love again the stranger who was your self.
Give wine. Give bread. Give back your heart
to itself, to the stranger who has loved you
all your life, whom you ignored
for another, who knows you by heart.
Take down the love letters from the bookshelf,
the photographs, the desperate notes,
peel your own image from the mirror.
Sit. Feast on your life.

Love After Love
Derek Walcott

Bespoken

These hands take easily to yours, sweet emptiness rendered warm to mutual touch. Ready and willing, I look into your nightly depths to see little but reflections from dim illumination, intent clear as morning mist. Come, you beckon ernestly, come to me and away we’ll go, into the night and far from this madness. Stay, I say, stay here in the chaos with me, where I’m wanted and remembered, not out into the unknown. You beckon until your mortal limits can plead no more, and then you retreat. Ever the face of elegant and inconspicuous desire, you give yourself away in haste. Would that I were as foolish as I dreamed to be, I would’ve whisked away with you and discovered the grounds of my darkness. An ideal for an hour, you retreat back to your corner like the stranger you were.