whose translucent face I first met
within the irises of your attention,
vibrant in the fading photographs
where your figures once melted together
like wax dripping from a summer candelabra.

is still found in every obliterated promise,
a lingering aftertaste of faint perfume
I can still smell on your skin
when I am wrapped in it, comfortably,
secured in your amber chrysalis of worry.

I watch your eyes scan rooms for her walk,
for the soft motion of her dress swaying
those pale legs reflecting shy moonlight,
the flicker of yesterday’s flame.

I hear the syllables of her name fill the air
like a word you have grown fearful of mispronouncing,
a favorite song stuck in your brain
distantly hummed under warm breath
when you run out of reasons
to remind me that she and I
do not share the same blood
nor the same bones.

For I am made of her ashes, her expiration,
carried by the winds of your embrace
whisking me away to distant kingdoms
where the language spoken is one
that only remembers her voice
and how effortlessly it interrupts mine
before I can even part my lips
to speak.

Real Love

At the age of twelve, I wanted to be a famous poet. I wanted to move to my own quaint apartment in the city with my English bulldog and a whole wardrobe of outfits I’ll never be able to repeat even if I wanted to. I wanted to drive a bright red convertible with leather seats and spend my weekends adventuring in faraway countries. I wanted to obtain so much knowledge that it scared everyone who came into contact with me. And lastly, I wanted more than anything to fall in love with the man of my dreams. As silly as it sounds, my dreams seemed so real to me, as if I expected them to unravel at my feet when the right time came around knocking at my door. So simple. It would just fall into place, like a light switch I would be able to reach one day. Not yet, though. I still had a few more inches to grow.
But as I got older, I realized that these dreams, though still tangible, were unrealistic. After blissful years of developing my writing skill, I realized that making it big in the real world as an author meant that you had to have a voice unlike anyone else’s. And though I did not lack passion, I was and still am unveiling the beginnings of that voice. It takes time. It takes patience. Apartments, convertibles, an endless wardrobe; all of these things cost more money than I could ever even dream of. And the world was vast, and I was so young, just a wide-eyed dreamer with an expanse of knowledge limited to what she had grown accustomed to. The world was far more complicated than any idea I could have conjured up, and because of this, I pushed all of these dreams into a tiny little cardboard box shoved away in the back of my bedroom closet. But I kept one. I wanted to find love. In the form of a boyfriend, a relationship, something a lot of other girls talked about in the locker rooms but something I was hardly acquainted with. It seemed so foreign to me, but something I was capable of experiencing. And I was right.
I tried to envision what love would be like before I had understood what the word even meant. I thought of someone, perhaps a mysterious, tall figure with messy hair and blue eyes, who would do all of the cute little boyfriend things, such as surprising me with chocolate or sending me long good morning messages. I thought love meant everything positive, everything wonderful, and everything easy.
But I couldn’t have been more wrong.
I had tried to find love in the form of chasing after people who only cared about me when it was convenient for them. And because of that, I had been left behind with nothing but the breath stolen from my lungs and my knees shaking from trying to stop them from running away from me. And soon, after they had lost interest, I was left with my own dwindling self-esteem, wondering what could be so wrong with me. There had to be a reason why they kept disappearing, shutting me off when they had finally gotten sick of me. Now, it felt like more of a countdown. Seconds ticking until one day, they would decide that enough is enough. And then they were on to the next girl, someone probably more beautiful or more interesting than me.
It’s quite perplexing, because love doesn’t always come in the form you expect it to arrive in. It’s as if I had created for myself an image of what love would look and feel like, and because of this undeveloped mindset, I ended up becoming more and more disappointed when I ended up with nothing but the absence of what could have been. No one could ever love me. I wasn’t beautiful enough. I wasn’t as confident as the other girls my age. I wasn’t as outgoing, or interesting, or good at the things everyone else was. I had my knacks and strengths, but they seemed to be everything BUT what everyone else was looking for.
So I stopped looking, and thank God I did. Because the second I stopped chasing and searching and validating myself based on what had happened before in the past, I was able to focus on myself. I was able to focus on people who actually treated me like I mattered, like I was beautiful enough, like I was worth it.
And when love was standing in front of me, this time it was different. He had been there the entire time, the funny stranger in the background with the big personality and the even bigger heart. He was there in the background to give me a hug every time I’d see him, the one dancing in the center of the circle at homecoming because he simply didn’t care what anyone else had to say about his own fun. I had been so busy searching that I was blind to the beautiful boy who loved God and all of the people around him.
Love looked at me in the eye. The others only saw me for my talents, my face, my style. But he really saw me. He saw that I was afraid to let my walls down, afraid to get attached and have to cope with the loss. But with him, I lost nothing except track of time. And that was all I needed. It’s almost as if I had spent so much energy covering up who I was in front the people before him, people who couldn’t appreciate me for the weirdness that I was, for the streak of passionate madness that overcame me whenever an idea would strike me. People who would see me in my truest form and disregard the fact that I was open. They existed only to close me up.
It was vulnerable, a state of realness that haunted me and flipped my stomach over a thousand times before I was able to realize that I was falling. I remember apologizing profusely for being myself. I’m sorry for being awkward. I’m sorry that I’m bad at conversing most of the time, and I’m sorry for being so indecisive. You’re going to get sick of me, I promise. I was a broken record.
This time, though, he looked at me with honest eyes and told me, at the very beginning, that there was nothing wrong with the person I was. To please, just stop apologizing. You have nothing to be sorry for, Embrace who you are, because that’s beautiful to me. I am not going anywhere.
He taught me what I couldn’t understand before him. That I am beautiful even on Saturdays when I’m too lazy to get ready, when I’m all dressed up with perfect makeup, and when I’m just hanging out with my hair tangled and rocking the sweatpants. He taught me that everything I have to say is important, and that my worth is not measured by what other people have to say about me. He never stops reminding me of the thousands of reasons why he loves me, even if it takes a three hour phone call and our parents telling us that it’s a school night, get some sleep. He catches me every single time I fall, or even trip, for that matter. I can laugh with him, head thrown back and sides aching. I can cry with him, the kind of cry that people are embarrassed of because it shows weakness. But he taught me that there is no weakness in letting loose. There is only beauty.
My Instagram is practically just pictures of us now, which bothers a lot of people. My nights consist of long text messages and cheesy FaceTime calls, my weekends spent wrapped up in the safety of the arms I have grown to become familiar with. We philosophize together. We let our minds wander to places we’ve been and have yet to go. I can’t even write about him because it’s not enough. It’s all-consuming, ever-growing, and even more beautiful as our story continues to unfold. The happiness I feel while with him is unlike anything I have ever felt before, but that’s not why I’m in it.
No longer am I just a girl who wanted love for herself. I want to spread it, because he taught me that love is selfless. Love pushes boundaries and it does not simply exist to be enjoyed by one person. It is meant to be shouted at the top of our lungs, to echo against the walls we have put up due to the subtle cruelty that exists all around us, and to be given even when it is hard. Because love is the opposite of easy, but I will keep giving it because that’s what it’s all about.
So here we are, almost four months since the first time we stared up at the stars lying down on the grass near our church, staring up at the constellations we didn’t care about, because we had each other- and for the first time, everything else in the world seemed small.
And love, though it is hard, is worth it. There are days I have to hold him tight when he hurts and when the entire world seems like it’s going to collapse around him, but I won’t let go.
How blissful it is to have something worth fighting for. Someone to celebrate, struggle, and grow with. How amazing it is to have someone you choose, who never ceases to choose you first.

On Loving Someone Who Hurts

There exists an abundance of neglected apologies stuck lodged at the back of my throat that remind me of how much I have forgotten the sensation of breathing deeply since you have. Words, how flimsy and inadequate, form into lethargic shapes that sit helplessly in the stomach and desire only to matter to you. I have painted for you a golden sky that stretches beyond horizons that can no longer be noticed by the naked eye and I guess we have both grown tired of prowling the heavens for potential endings.

I have seen dandelions sprout freely within the dimple on your cheek and I wonder how you can go on so casually convincing yourself that you are not made of sunshine. I have felt lightning channel through your fingertips far too many times to believe it is just an illusion you have designed to make the dark clouds feel a little less intimidating.

There is a certain danger embedded within the comforting blanket of safety. I want to tell you I am sorry that the metaphors and lines of poetry I have crafted will never begin to describe even the smallest fraction of your limitless importance. I am sorry that my words cannot make you see the icicles that form in my bloodstream when your tears whisper that you are exhausted of being alive. I want to shout I love you, I love you, I love you, why can’t YOU love you? until I run out of air in my lungs, the chords of my voice continuing to strum the same promise inside and out until it forgets the tune. But doing so is impossible, because your soul is an old song that cannot be removed from the brain once it is stuck and I am so sorry, my love, that yours has lost the memory of innocence.

I am a broken vinyl record spinning the same expired words over and over again, hoping your tomorrow will be void of pain so that there will be enough leftover space for you to listen.

High Hopes

I often daydream of the places my feet will graze, eyes still bright and hopes lifted boldly above my head in a handful of future years when I will finally understand who I am. Oftentimes, I envision myself gazing through the frigid glass of my apartment window overlooking an entire city of hungry souls. Paired with a glass of pink champagne, I will study the intricate patterns in the way they carry themselves from one place to another, an entire kingdom of strangers dressed in pale blues and yellows and tans.

Who are they? What are they searching for?

I stand—a figure in a sheer black dress miles above, pondering upon the sea of incomprehensible gray swarming a thousand forevers below my feet. There exists a starving fear, one that reminds me that if my heels happen to break through the balcony, I will become one of them.
I dream of you returning home to me after an abstract day of trial and error. Even after the musky dust of today’s freedom collects upon your shoulders, you still smell the same familiar way you did when you were seventeen and unsure, wondering if I will be around to love you next year or tomorrow or only this afternoon.

Below us, they continue to travel, approaching midnight with a cautious volume that grows more and more lost as the hours waltz by. Some are hunting for a friendship that slipped like soap bubbles through the valleys between their fingers. The youthful delicacy of unrequited love. Some search for the art of escaping from a life that shattered their bones numb. Others, for salvation. A reason to permit their hearts to keep beating.

We are no longer wandering; instead, fingers intertwined at the success of a future that would not have obeyed the stars if we had not been like them before, pursuing dreams like pixie dust before they had the chance to grow up and become a little too impossible.

You kiss my forehead goodnight, drawing curtains and racing hearts. For once, I sleep. There is nothing left to search for.