Refuge

She unlocked the door, peeled off her layers, and removed her bra. It’s 6:30, and the might of the day has placed itself on the other side of those hinges. She wasn’t a champion of anything anymore, no — in that space of stucco and stains, she was just herself, reclaiming herself. On her naked floor, she walked around unclothed. The only face she saw was her own in the mirror, pensive and undemanding of her time and energy. In fact, nothing in this world was demanding anything of her right now. Even her newly treated apartment windows dappled the hazy evening light, as if the very building itself understood — she needed things diluted at this very moment.

Bare-bodied, skin left raw to the air, just free to close her eyes, close her thighs, close her mind, she slips on her gratitude. Thank you, she thinks. Thank you for surviving this day.


Daily Post prompt: Champion

The Night & I

I listen to the Night, raucous in its pitch-black silence.
If I scream into the Night, will it swallow all my sounds?
Spit it back out onto another Earth?
Will there be another me listening on the other side?

I stare out into the Night, inscrutable in its mystery.
What secrets does it keep, that the Night surrenders nothing to me?
What dark entity has paid for the Night’s loyalty?
Have I not paid enough in sleepless evenings to learn some confidences?

I feel the Night, my hands reaching for this onyx creature.
Feeling strength in its velvety wings.
I wonder, can I tame the Night?
Could the Night take pity on me, flying me away from sunlit realities?

I speak to the Night, my red-rimmed eyes struggling open.
Tired, I say, “Night, what purpose do you serve, keeping me from resting?
Why do you torture me so, lingering at my windowsill?
Causing my restlessness, then doing nothing to ease it?”

The Night replies in a slow and volcanic voice:

I do not torture; I mirror.
I am not the cause; I am the effect.
What you see in me already exists in you.
I, the Night, do not take action. Only you do.
I do not linger; my place is, and always has been, by your side.

I snort irreverently and think, Well, don’t quit your day job just yet.


Daily Post prompt: Unseen

What makes a city? 

What makes a city? 

Is it the cracks traversing its roads, our human wanderlust rendering a city cripple?

Is it the tunnels lined with darkness, like coffins, reminding us of our destiny back to the dirt?

Is it the cacophony of human desires, splashed onto billboards and bedsheets, spilling out into streets?

I breathe it all in, letting in particles of you, you, and yes, even you.

What makes a city? There is a strange comfort to this suffocation, a warmth to this blanket of shared struggle, this smog of excrement, this mosaic of pain.

Oh, these cravings

18af03724ecf55af60b0d0a36c9f0365

the air

There are some days I want to experience air. A big, unapologetic whiff that makes my nostrils flare and my chest visibly expand. Some days, in the constant walk-a-thon that is my job, I feel like I truly take air for granted. When I feel this way, I stop and glance around, like I’m seeing my surroundings for the first time. Then I breathe, starting slow in the pit of my stomach, making note of the flavors that enter my nasal passage. Once I reach the peak of my breath, I savor the deliciousness of the view. Then I make my way down the valley of my exhalations, careful not to fall over the edge and release too quickly.

the strangers

There are some days I crave male attention. When I was sixteen, and my mother would drive us south every weekend for several hours, I would relish making eye contact with some truck driver, or a man in some Subaru. I would make believe the man was intrigued by my lovely cheekbones, in the partial shadow of the passenger seat. I would hold the gaze for as long as I dare, feeling desired, if only for a few seconds. I thought that if they couldn’t see the rest of me — just my long, black hair and intense gaze — that would make me more desirable … at least, more desirable than if my awkward body were set against the backdrop of high school lockers and bland classrooms. Sometimes, I still feel like I’m sixteen, falling in love with strangers.

the salt & the sea

There are some days I yearn for the sea. I am convinced salt water is my element. Warm, cold, turbulent, calm — doesn’t matter. If it’s salty, if it’s endless, if it hits the sand … then it is truly mine. I used to climb coconut trees, collect shells, run like a madman along the beaches with my dogs. All of this was with the sea to my side, the briny wind on my face, two giants embracing me as I played. You know how you hear the ocean in a shell when held up to your ear? Some sunrises and sunsets here, in the city I live in, truly feel like a shell is being held up to my ear.