and if you forget, I’ll remind you

remind yourself that you are worthy

remind yourself every single day that

not everyone deserves to receive the

kind of love you have to give

remind yourself how hard you worked to

not feel lonely when you’re alone

and also how lonely you felt when

they gifted you hands instead of

an open heart,

when they inhaled you in

for only a moment

afraid of the responsibility of

holding your force in their lungs

remind yourself that you’re a beautiful storm

and those that don’t learn to dance in your love

will always be blown away

remind yourself of how many chances you’ve given

to the broken and afraid and of how

you being whole led them to run away-

they don’t feel needed when you’re complete

so remind yourself it’s good

when the weak ones leave

and remember, always:

you don’t need another half

just someone to match

the size of your heart and

the strength of your love.

after all

You would’ve liked the woman you saw if you had seen me last night- my skin sun kissed, hips swaying back and forth to the rhythm I learned in the only home I’ve known, to the songs I used to spend hours dancing to alone on the patio on days when the sun shone too hot and there was no one around to talk to.

You would’ve liked the way my mouth molded over the notes, my tongue dancing, vocal chords ringing, my spine standing strong and upright. You would’ve appreciated my small efforts at comedy and human connection sent to the crowd over the twisted microphone wires and afterwards I’m certain you would’ve declared that I had been born for the stage.

You were, after all, my biggest fan.

You would’ve sat right in the first row but you would’ve stood up to dance, even if your feet never did quite learn all the right steps to take.

That’s what you had me for, after all.

You would’ve liked what I have done with this life I realized I took for granted when you died.

Why have I wasted so much time?

I have learned to ask myself the hard questions even if I don’t have answers to so many of them.

Yet.

What I do know is that it isn’t enough to just breathe and pay the bills and kiss new lips every now and then. Not anymore.

You would be proud of the woman I’ve become.

If you could only see me now.

 

 

 

Head West

Been sharing my secrets with a stranger

leaving my tears behind on a cold, metal chair

my mouth spilling truths never before accepted by my heart

her voice from the other side of the room cutting the air-conditioned silence with the expected, but always comforting that’s amazing, you’re so strong!

and I laugh.

because there’s no strength left in me.

child born in poverty but raised with love,

still feeling all the things I felt then,

except for strength.

wishing I were who I was, past tense

not who I feel like these days-

Tired. Fragile.

Afraid to dream again.

My heart fatigued.

 

The American dream, she begins, is defined by you.

But what if my American Dream has been denied to me? I ask.

Taken from me? I push.

What if it’s nothing more than a fantasy? I challenge her, asserting matter of factly:

Reality is what I have now.

Lentils for dinner cooked in my kitchen in the closet

and still, I can’t even complain because I’m blessed and fortunate to have what I got

and THAT is what the American deam is all about.

These days, anyways.

Head West, they said

Get an education, work hard, and your dreams will come true.

But what if my dreams never even belonged to me?

What if I dreamt wrong for what my heart needs?

No, I don’t need another dream, stranger lady in a suit

No, you see-

What I need is a plan.

 

For You

I’m writing about your death and the aftermath because I know it’s what you would want me to do.There are easier things to do than to write about death on a sunny Saturday afternoon.

But I can almost hear: “They need to know,” your whisper somehow seeping through the other side- “They need to know it’s okay to be broken and sad and afraid. In your weakness you’ll give them strength. Keep writing, even if that also means you keep crying.”

And so I do.

For them, for me, but mostly for you.