Tonglen

He pulled her out into the street and with his arm around her waist, he started to sway both their bodies back and forth, a crooked smile on his face giving away his intentions.

Her feet fumbled to follow along, which made her feel grateful that their only audience then were the rows of bushes lit up in Christmas lights. It was 2 a.m. and they were drunk, but the thrill of sharing a silent dance in the middle of the street with a stranger  was far more intoxicating than all the alcohol ingested in the last couple of hours. And lucky for him, she had always been a sucker for magic and romance. For silent nights and all the possibilities in life that leads one to connect with a total stranger.

So she let him hold her small palms in his rough hands and inched herself closer to get high off his suffering, moving her body right along to his unbalanced feet as she breathed in his pain and breathed out comfort. Tonglen. A lion’s roar could’ve been heard coming from her heart then- it you had been around and were connected enough to listen.

She understood how darkness felt.

She knew he needed saving.

And as luck would have it, sometimes she liked to switch parts and become someone else’s savior for a change. Every now and then she needed to be the one who was seen as strong.

Playing Damsel in Distress was starting to get old.

first light

I talk a lot about darkness because I’ve learned to treat it as an old friend of mine.

But don’t be mistaken-

There’s a lot of light in my life, too.

Light in people and faces, in places and spaces, light that comes suddenly and inundates my entire world in a second’s time. Light that comes in the shape of clouds, of $20 dollar bills found on a deserted staircase, light that comes twinkling down all around me filtered through big tall leaves. Light. So much light. The sun rises over my bedroom window and I lay beneath the covers and notice the golden streams of light dancing- first across my white comforter and then over my face, settling down to make home in my eyes. Sparkling light, new and bright. Virginal light, the kind that carries no shadows or hint of darkness. Because if there’s one thing I learned walking through it, is that darkness ends. Always. And then, there’s all the light. And aren’t you glad you stuck around to see it? You held on for all this light. Of course you can see it down to its atoms. It’s only natural.

Just because I have befriended darkness doesn’t mean I can no longer speak of the light. The light in his eyes when he tells me he loves me. And means it. And then the light in her eyes when she tells me I’m still her favorite person. We lost so much together when he passed, it only makes sense we rebuild our lives together. Brick by brick our love strengthening our breath, giving wind to our feet. Drenched in the light streaming through the big windows of the bar nearby, grabbing drinks and spilling quiet, reluctant tears as we affirm to each other in our silence that we’re doing alright.

Light.

I live in it. I just dabble in darkness sometimes. Perhaps just so as not to lose the habit. We’ve come such a long way, after all. Maybe that’s the biggest gift I’ve gotten out of all the loss: to be able to co-exist in both darkness and light and find beauty in it all.

For you

For the dark corners
you have learned to embrace
and the soft spaces
you still keep;
for the fragile strength
that has carried you through
and the bravery you’ve shown
when you stared death in the face
and chose instead
to live.
to love.

For the decision you make
day after day to keep hope
within reach
and let go of grief,
for the honest tears you’ve shed
so openly with yourself
and the mountains you climbed
on your way
to peace;
For your eyes and lips
and ears and fingertips
and hot breath in your lungs
for staying present
through it all;
For what was
what is
and what will be.
for growth.
For the voice you birthed from the pain
and for the courage you’ve found to walk away
and let the past
die for good.

For Spring after Winter.
For the light in the darkness.
For rebirth.
For you.

what’s the going rate on an artist’s soul?

there is a price to pay for making art
there is a price to pay
if you want paper
to turn into soul
in someone else’s hands

it’s not easy-
reaching darkness
just to later walk out of it

and I just hope
that the light you have
is bright enough
to bring you back
I just hope
you don’t forget
none of that darkness
belongs to you
or is yours to keep

treat it as a brief encounter
a first date you never want to see again
get what you need
and leave it just where it is:
behind you
a story now of your survival
a testament of your strength.