I used to be afraid of drums
When we went to parades
And I sat on my father’s shoulders
I could feel them in my chest and it scared me
I wanted to run and hide
I didn’t love music
I didn’t live for it, like I do now
Now I hear that beat
And I realize I feel it in my heart,
Not my chest
When I was younger
I didn’t love the stage
The theatre bored me
I had no interest in watching people perform
but that changed a some point in my youth
Now, performance is what I live for
Although I was born to be spectator first,
Rarely and never necessary
I wonder if
When she sits there
In the back row
Legs crossed and a smirk
Like some kind of rock and roll goddess
I wonder if
She wants him
I wonder if
She knows he’s still hers
When he puts on an actor’s mask
And picks up an instrument
When he’s a rockstar for the night or just the hour
I wonder if
Is he looking at me?
purple petals sprinkled
and mixed in a big silver pot
reduced and strained, poured
into a tall glass bottle
shaped like Paris’ favorite monument
kept in the fridge
to be combined with penguin seltzer
in an ice-filled glass
when the summer has finally warmed enough
to sit outside,
on a pink and green quilt,
those purple petals
adorn the dashboard
of a character I made up
named after a Norse goddess
and turned into a werewolf
the same small purple petals
that a broadcasting company attached to my story
when they marked me as top five
and made my name worth googling
and solidified my place as a writer
that I want attached to me, drawn
as a reminder
of hot summer days when the lavender bloomed
and the bees went mad,
swarming our overflowing garden
as a reminder,
that creativity is not a choice for me
regardless of who does
shortlist my words,
is as much a part of me
as the ink on my skin
that I am an artist
that I am a writer
that I am still the girl on the pink and green quilt
He noticed her when he walked in. She had mousy brown hair and a smile that looked like it shared a secret with her eyes. She was drinking espresso out of a tiny cup that didn’t match its saucer and writing in a notebook, surrounded by the debris of an artist at work. Pen caps, ink smudges and empty mugs laid in her wake. She looked up when he walked in, just like she looked up when anyone did, searching for someone to incorporate into her stories. Their eyes caught for a second, sending her blushing and him coughing awkwardly into his fist. He ordered his coffee, something he hated but drank anyway because it fit his image.
He watched her slyly, and when his heavy latte was placed into his hand, he took a small leap of faith. Footsteps approached her small window table, but she was busy now, half deafened by the voices yelling in her head. “Hi,” he said. She finished scribbling, a pointed period punctuating the uncomfortable pocket of silence inside the crowded coffee shop. “Can I sit?” The cup shook a bit in his uneasy fingers. She had been approached before, her silence there only because confrontation made her clam up. He pulled out the empty chair across from her and sat, sending her stomach fluttering. He was well dressed in a simple grey sweater that matched the sky outside.
“You’re a writer?” He waited, she blinked. “Aren’t writers supposed to be good with words?” She smiled at him, laughed a little.
“Only on paper, evidently.”
He looked relieved, now that her mouth had opened. Two sets of shoulders relaxed. Luckily they had enough to talk about, so him and her because us/we/them on a rainy, fateful summer afternoon.
I thought I was breaking your heart,
but it was you who broke mine.
And it was silly to think, because you’re a city and
I am just a blip on your massive timeline.
I am just a human. I am nothing to you.
I didn’t even etch a single mark into you.
You are a collection of age old buildings and cobblestones.
You have survived great wars.
I am a collection of breakable, breakable bones
and skin that’s so easy to tear.
I haven’t survived anything.
You became my favorite place in the world and I was easily forgotten.
It snowed on New Years
At midnight, flakes fell
They blanketed the New Year in white
Sparkling and clean
People danced in the street
Lit flames against the indigo night
Kissed with snowflakes in their hair
Days passed and the snow stuck
Only to the grass and rooftops
Ice dangling from the tree branches
And topping off fences
It’s no longer soft and new
But on the third of January
It’s only fitting
The snow is an almost desperate reminder
Of clean slates
But as the days wear on
The snow is stamped down and mixed with dirt
The snow will melt if the temperature ever rises
And when January turns over
Where will we find a reminder of hope
I miss the Romance of European cities. Maybe more than the cities themselves.
I miss Paris and Amsterdam and Berlin. I don’t miss them in the same way I miss London because they were never home.
I miss these other cities in a superficial way. I miss the foreign languages and the new food, the museums and the history. I miss Paris’ light in the winter and Amsterdam’s bicycles and Berlin’s pockmarked walls. I miss thrift stores that are cramped and old and full of unusual silhouettes. I miss the monuments.
I miss the way I felt, exploring new places, tasting stories. I even miss being annoyed at my parents in the way only traveling creates. I miss drinking champagne and eating artisanal truffles on my sixteenth birthday.
I miss walking ancient streets, noticing the sunlight in a new way. The light is different in every city.
I’m romanticizing; Paris is dirty and Amsterdam is sinking and Berlin is crumbling. But I drew and I walked and I wrote.
I miss the cities I see in photographs. In an intimate but distant way. It is not an ache, it’s only a twinge, but it runs through the roots I grew halfway across the globe.
The monuments,the light,the museums,the ancient streets,the creating,and the history.
I went to bed last night before results had been posted. I went to bed with a little bit of hope, kept alight by disbelief in what the polls were clearly beginning to show. I woke up this morning with devastation in my heart. I stayed in bed for over an hour, crying with my covers pulled up to my chin. I felt the disbelief and fear that I see on the faces of neighbors, family and peers. My feelings today are comparable only to the feelings I had after the tragic shooting in Orlando. And, as I did after that event earlier this year, I combatted my feelings with creativity.
Every Wednesday, I am lucky enough to work through a company that teaches arts and craft classes to elementary schoolers. In this class, I have seventeen wonderful young girls. Today I could only think about them. Because they didn’t get to see a woman break the ultimate glass ceiling in America this morning. Instead, they saw a man who is the epitome of a schoolyard bully be given the highest title the United States has to offer. These bright girls have so much growing that will be done over the next four years, with some of them even starting high school as the next four years come to a close. As of this moment, it’s difficult to say how much will really change. But the election of Donald Trump into office, coupled with the steadily declining state of the environment, doesn’t leave me with much hope. These girls are smart, funny and excited. They’re eager to make something new. One of them told me that even though she isn’t very good at art, even though artistic abilities don’t “run in her family,” she still loves to create. I am mostly worried because they are girls, and some of them are girls of color. They aren’t yet aware of what either of those things might mean for them in the future, and I worry about how soon they may have to become aware. If I have these feelings of fear for a group of girls I have only known for a few months, I can barely imagine how parents are feeling today.
I decided that today was going to be full of the little things that bring me joy. I realized a few minutes into writing this that all those little things are creative. I taught a class a lesson on Native American culture and the importance of Indigenous Peoples’ Day before painting canvases with images of thunder birds. I came home and sang to myself, just playing through the songs I’ve memorized on guitar and ukulele. After dinner I made two batches of double chocolate cookies and danced to Frank Sinatra. Many people went to rallies, all across the country. They are wonderful and brave and strong for that. What I did today was insignificant in a big picture way. But I feel a little better eating cookie dough and listening to Fly Me To the Moon. And I feel better after writing down my thoughts here, preparing to share them with my small slice of the world.
Despite my efforts, I’m still crying.