Today I feel lucky.

But not in a stumbled-upon-the-Jackpot-prize-and-all-of-a-sudden-I’m-a-billionaire kind of way. But lucky in a simple sense. Lucky I get to hold you. Lucky I am finally strong enough to do it right, to do it with the perfect combination of gentle and firm. Lucky that you are mine for the keeping.

Because I am so used to doing it wrong. My handshake is always a little too much. Too tight around the fingers. Too weak. Never enough of that perfect middle. I’m not a natural businesswoman, guaranteed to falter in her elevator speech. My personality mirrors that, too. One foot in that part of the sky that is too pure, too blue, too thin to breathe in—the other foot entrenched in the burning quicksands of hell. I have always operated this way; a child of extremes. I belong to nothing other than everything. If learning how to blissfully exist in a state of mindless peace was a life lesson, I was probably absent that day. I have never quite mastered the art of taking it easy.

But you are the easiest person to love. You are no weeping willow, no tall child, no language impossible to speak. You make it so the language of loving you is one that feels most like the mother tongue I never forgot. Second nature. You make the syllables of love digestible—an elementary school phonics lesson—as easy as the alphabet I learned when I was still too young to understand how to carry the weight of words. You remind me of the days I spent sounding out the curvature of each letter, harsh and soft, accented and smooth. And come to think of it, learning a language is a lot like learning a person. You will stumble. Your tongue will not know how to hold all of that foreign feeling.  But still, you speak anyway, stuttering over the small stuff and tripping up over letters that still wiggle like loose baby teeth in your mouth. I want to speak you forever, love. I want to speak you until the day all language dies.

So yes. Today I am lucky. Lucky in the sort of way that makes me want to shake the hand of God. I’ve never had a good handshake, I know, but I hope it’s enough for Him to feel how much you matter.

WHO AM I, IF NOT MY NAME?

I’ve written to this prompt before but I can’t seem to get it out of my brain. I am so many things—that’s probably why. I could list them all like rote catalogue: daughter, friend, poet, introvert, artist, dreamer. But how boring is that—how much more mundane can it get, this useless collection of adjectives handpicked by the world?

I am all and none of that.

I am the teacup smashed on the hardwood floor.

I am the indication that someone else was here just moments before, the chair still warm and the faint remnants of perfume haunting the room, unsettling it.

I am velvet in the night and soft linen when the sun rises again.

I am guitar strumming by a window open to the summer rain, peace leaking in everywhere, falling in droplets through the roof.

I am the oldest, scruffiest dog at the pound. If you take me home I will sleep by your feet and let you hold my tired bones.

I am the prom dress, years-old, collecting dust in someone’s basement. But I am also the wedding dress being tailored to perfection, not yet gracing the church aisle, still safety-pinned to the shoulders of the lifeless mannequin, waiting for its time.

I am Picasso’s Rose Period—the one so many have forgotten under the pedestal of Blue. Believe me, I exist, pink and precious and just as unforgettable.

I am the creeks and hills that hold this state together. I am the highways that divide it.

I am both the savior and the saved. The lifeboat and the capsized ship.

I am the child that has evidently outgrown its stroller. Still, I need that push.

I am not exactly lipstick, but the evidence it was put to good use. Rouge smudged at the edges, kisses on cheeks. I leave my mark on anyone I am tall enough to reach.

I am a voice grown raspy from yelling at the walls.

I am the old man at church who still walks with his arm extended outwards, reaching for his wife years already gone.

I am every word you cannot say, the ones that would warrant your mother washing the filth out of your mouth with soap.

I am my hometown that still hurts to visit. I can kick my shoes off here and rest for a bit, but I can’t stay for the summer or my soul will wilt at the edges.

I am the Saturday morning everyone sleeps through.

But I don’t mind. I let them rest. The world needs its beauty sleep.

COOL DOWN

I am pining for autumn. Everything about it feels so close but yet so unattainable, as if God himself packaged it away in saran wrap to save for later.

Autumn means I’ll have you again. This infernal air will cool to a slow sigh, crisp and intentional. Everything, even the way leaves flutter to the ground, feels purposeful. The whole earth inhales, holds its breath, and lets off steam. I think we could all learn a lot from autumn. Especially how to breathe deeply.

I feel okay today, but something’s still messing with my gravity. I can’t locate the center of it. Rise and shine, greets the ground to my feet as they hit the asphalt each morning. But every step is laced with a feeling that all of this might be meaningless. It’s vertigo of reality. I’m so stuck in the rhythm of the world and all I can think about is how terrible it is to not be able to escape the sound of everyone else’s feet marching along with mine.