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Sarah Kersey Oct 2016
On the canals of Venice,
a grumpy old man
performs an act of bravery:
he smiles,
despite the overwhelming
yet crushing
that all
will soon
to exist.
Sarah Kersey Oct 2016
It's the slow beginning of the burning of a torch before the Olympic ceremony commences
Instead of the 200 meter sprint or who can do the butterfly in the least amount of seconds, we measure the diligence of our players
It's like having a world record book full of seemingly average accomplishments that feel like the biggest struggle of all of eternity
We are the gladiators of the apparently normal, often not knowing how to show our love for others because we are so distracted by finding one last bit of strength to carry us through the finish line
And yet we are here
Gaining medals for the simple pleasures such as going a day at college without missing our pets back home
And it's nothing extraordinary
But it's something
We are seeing a faint spark of light in all the new blank, dark and unfamiliar canvas that is our new territory
And the future stands before us in the shadows
Waiting for us to find the determination to ignite our torches
Sarah Kersey Oct 2016
I'm pretty sure these curtains are made of old denim that once gripped onto another human being's veins
But when I see these scratchy teal curtains with a meticulously hidden yellow stain, I no longer see the days that I occupied in which the carefully constructed tears in the fabric of my jeans matched the unnatural ripping sound of my shirt on the night that I thought the world would end
Instead I see the possibility of new stains that don't feel like ghost stories, but instead tales of unfortunate mishaps to find laughter and lessons in

The first time I ever remember genuinely feeling overwhelmed with heart wrenching sadness with no lesson attached, I was seven years old and laying in a bunk bed
Here I am eleven years later, in a new home away from home and we're back to twin beds and chutes and ladders
But when I see these bunk beds now I don't think of the days where fear weighed down my brain with such a dread that I could barely lift my head to peer over the edge, paralyzed with terror and thoughts about how much it would hurt to fall
Instead I think of the risk I took by jumping into the unknown, daring pain to catch me but trusting that it wouldn't, and in return finding someone to catch me down below with hands like pillows and eyes like oak trees

That boy with the oak tree eyes has a heart full of sunshine that never burns
He gave me a plant the other week and it took my breath away
It's a simple succulent with stripes like a tiger and stems like garden snakes emerging from the ground
A brief thought flashed through my mind that I am not often trusted with living things
It was so hard for me to believe for such a long time that a person who could not take care of herself could manage to care for another
But when I looked up at the miraculous enigma of a person standing in front of me, handing me a living thing to love along side his own self, I was overwhelmed with the understanding that I have always been able to care and to love and to prosper, even though I had so often doubted my own competence
That plant sits on the desk in my dorm room now, living quietly next to my first aid kit and box of food

Time is agonizing and it makes fools of us all more often than not
I have felt stuck in a never ending carousel of pain more than I'd like to admit
But here I am, with my feet firmly on the ground
And the words "it gets better" window stained on my forehead,
reminding all of you that there is hope everywhere
Sometimes we just have to shine light on it
Sarah Kersey Oct 2016
I'm knocking on a door when I know nobody's home but I'd rather keep knocking than feel alone again
The static is louder than the doorbell sounding and everything is
Pounding pounding pounding
In my head and telling me that going to bed is the answer but how am I supposed to sleep when the world is churning with cancer
So I'll keep standing here making noise that no one will ever hear in fear that the gift I once bled has become something you consider dead

The elder version of me that didn't know how to sleep or breathe or eat has come and gone and I'm not sleeping on the front lawn anymore
I'm not staring at the grass and hoping it absorbs me to the core
Instead I'm breathing and eating and sleeping but no one answers the door when I pour pour pour my feelings out on paper
This new version of me doesn't shop at first class vapor and doesn't draw pain from the smoke or the poke of the disdain that haunts me like a hurricane haunts a city full of big dreams and the lawns full of greens
Instead it's bliss

I'm living in a world where everything feels like your first kiss and it's magic and none of it is tragic and yet the words can't find their way to my tongue and it's like a towel has been wrung over my head because the water is drip drip dripping
onto the dead words I fill this note with while I try to find some confidence to cope with the idea that I was sad for so long I could've been a brand at Ikea

But now when I try to put the happy I feel into words it all sounds a bit too sappy and I just want to convey the happiness the way I used to betray my sadness
by spilling it's truths into my mouths standby poet chatter because I just want to write about the reality that matters
Sarah Kersey Oct 2016
It's like waking up one day and all your credit cards have somebody else's name on them
You knew it was happening gradually
It was like a slow landslide that you couldn't stop with your feeble hands or mediocre poetry
Letter by letter, day by day, you weren't you anymore
You wanted so desperately to remember your own name that you shouted the assignment into an empty mirror until it sounded like talking underwater
Unfortunately no matter how much you insist that the footprint on your birth certificate holds the same tsunami swirls as the ones attached to your ankles do now,
The alarm sounds one day and when you pick up the wallet that's on the ground next to you, the photo ID inside has a picture of somebody you used to know but no longer love in the spot where your eyes are supposed to be

I'm not feigning ignorance when I say I wasn't aware that I was losing myself
Somebody must have sent the memos to an email I forgot the password to
So when I woke up one day and opened up  my snapchat to put a stupid dog filter on, I wasn't entirely shocked when the camera didn't recognize a face
But my heart sunk like a titanic still full of passengers that didn't know they were drowning
I kept poking at my lifeless personality with a stick, too afraid to shake it in fear that pieces of me trapped inside would fall out and shatter
After a while I become suddenly aware that the shell of a person lying as roadkill in front of me was the person who appeared in the photo on my drivers license

It took days of placing dead flowers next to a dormant piece of who I used to be for me to see the word "disassociation" wrapping itself around the carcass's ankles
It took weeks of the sun's persistent questioning, burning through my shallow denial, for someone to look down at my fragile hands and find them a mess of fused bones instead of part of an intact limb
It took months for me to drag out the barely breathing heap of clothes - that contained who I used to be - out of my closet and in front of the window
It took months for me to open the windows and let the fresh air in
It took months for my skin to grow back over the parts of me that had been violated by someone else and incinerated by myself
It took months of gentle hugs and long naps for my body and my soul to recover the parts of me that used to be and connect them to the misshapen jigsaw puzzle that lies inside my chest

But everything is finite in this world, the good and the bad
One day I woke up and I dragged my beaten soul to the bank to register for new credit cards
And as I opened my wallet in fear that the progress I had made had been for nothing, the church choir took a dramatic pause
And finally sang the word hallelujah when I recognized myself again
Not the person I used to be
But the person I had become
Sarah Kersey Feb 2016
As much as I want to forget the days where the sun failed to shine and my fingertips fell off from the hypothermia (even though I was sitting on top of a heater), the memories stay stuck to my brain like a push pin that never found its way to a bulletin board
The thoughts of the nights that I have not shared where I drove without headlights on the streets with no street signs make me feel as if I am once again the dog who never made it to the pound with the misfired bullet slowing me down
I am not the same bike with no wheels or the tricycle who forgot the child like I was a year ago
The year without birthdays has put itself to rest next to the grave of lies I told everyone so they wouldn't worry about me
I have progressed and I want to be real
The chalkboard covered with eraser marks that hid all the confessions I wanted to spill to my mother - but never did - now lies in the dumpster with no trash
I am an open book with no pictures
Yet at the same time, I am the tweet with 141 characters saved in my drafts because I don't know how to tell the  people closest to me what it was like to be a calendar with no pages
How do you explain to someone with sprinklers that you struggled to survive through the drought thought to have no end?
They say that the struggles you endure make you wise, so then why do I feel like a melting acropolis full of all these stories I never wanted to have to tell?
Maybe it's the candle with no wick that is yearning to burn within me or maybe it's the upcoming March without the madness
But whatever it is,
I know I want to be real about the frames I hung with no pictures on the walls with no foundations
I am starting to feel as if I am regaining the feeling in my fingertips again
And I need you to be proud of me for that
Sarah Kersey Jan 2016
As the fall changed its sweater into one fitting for winter, it got so cold in my head that I lost the will to coax the furnace into functioning
My worlds felt like overused metaphors and the feeling you get when you finish a book that wasn't supposed to end
I didn't realize I had used all my poetry as firewood until I didn't have any other sonnets left in my mouth

I wrote my first essay for my English class about the boy who played with fire in the middle of August
But by then it was October and I couldn't find the courage to talk about the burn marks on my back or the way I flinched when I saw lava lamps
So instead I talked about the way this boy juggled fire like it was a toy
The essay started strong but my words lost their grandeur
My head was getting so cold that when icicles started forming on the corners of the paper, he became ignorant and not the sadistic person that he was
I couldn't figure out how to characterize the villain in my three page essay because I couldn't see myself as the protagonist
I couldn't talk about how I watched my entire world burn and sat in stunned silence
I couldn't find a word strong enough to recreate the terror on paper
Instead I turned on the air conditioning and spoke of bravery
I neglected to mention that I didn't have any of it

I put on my best disguise and spilled out my greatest poetic lies but my teacher saw straight through it
So I was branded with a C and stamped with a "do not resuscitate" order on my forehead
They labeled me a lost cause and I didn't have enough poetry to throw to convince the morgue that I was still breathing
That my words still had relevance
Walt Whitman never told me that the written word only means something when it's true

By then it was too cold in my head to snow and I was trapped below all the words I failed to speak
I didn't know how to dig my way out from underneath the weight of every bad thing that had ever happened to me
Because I didn't feel like the hero or the protagonist
I felt like an arsonist who could not keep herself warm

And so here I am
Throwing myself into the fire full of every truth I never wanted to accept
Hoping to find my voice again lying beneath the ashes
Trying to find my voice again.
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