I say a silent prayer to calm my anxieties and brace
myself for the hour ahead. I am greeted by a whirlwind
of hair and smiles, a couple decibels above
my comfort zone. We’re here to make “safe
girl space” but I can’t seem to intercept
every biting word that pierces these hearts.
We’re here to offer what the city calls “tools
of empowerment” and “youth development,” but
secretly, I call it love. We don’t fit in with the harsh
discipline of your school day. The disconnect is too abrupt;
the chasm too incomprehensible. I’m building a bridge
for you, but you tell me you can’t see. Why can’t you see?
When all I see is darkness, how do I know not to run from the blinding light?
I once heard a joke that all who survive adolescence have
an overabundance of material to inspire quality
creative writing. But it’s not funny anymore when your survival
is uncertain. I loathe to do it, but I challenge myself to recall
those years when the world stopped with a single word
from this week’s best friend and started with the subtle hint of
a smile from tomorrow’s new crush. I long to hold you all in
a human embrace and take you away to castles in
clouds, but your young hearts are already skeptical of
the dreams I hold up to your eyes as they roll.
When all other hands come close to strike my raw and bleeding
corpse, where do I learn that your hand offers salve and gifts?
“I am not the enemy.” I am an insufficient human
band-aid on a festering wound with no distinct beginning
or end. A strong silent friend helped me step out
of my brokenness. I gave myself a voice by being
heard. I gave myself a choice by naming
my wounds – making them real, but no more or less
real than me. I am here to listen. To search through this tangled
mass and get a little closer to finding you. Who are you? Will you tell me?
I only hear my name when I’m being told to shut up; how do I know that you’re asking for my voice? Where do I find this voice that speaks my truth and makes my choices?
I’m diving in, but there’s no such thing as swimming. I wonder
if that means we all drown together or if desperate treading is
the technicality that redeems. But everyday, I come back fighting
the sinking weight in my soul; getting angrier and angrier with
whoever is throwing these babies in the river. The questions outweigh
the answers, so we explore further, deeper, longer…
If we come out limbs intact, it was a good day.
If you are here to help me, why do I still only see
bleeding hearts dragged through broken glass everywhere I turn?