C’est le dernier jour de mon grand voyage depuis que j’ai tout laissé derrière moi. Je suis tellement heureux que cela ait été possible et je suis toujours excité pour mon retour à Rennes dans la nouvelle année.
Ces derniers mois, j’étais en Allemagne, en Autriche et évidemment en France. J’ai appris le français au lycée, mais vraiment je n’aurais jamais pensé que je serais ici. C’est un rêve incroyable à réaliser. Malgré les montagnes difficiles des barrières linguistiques et la communication avec la famille et les amis, je suis ici et je poursuivrai mes études de français au-delà de l’école. J’aimerais être parfaite dans la langue mais je sais que j’ai un long chemin à parcourir.
Aujourd’hui, j’ai dit <<au revoir>> à ma famille française, et elle va me manquer. Ça va parce que je vais voir ma vraie famille et ensuite je vais rentrer en France. Il me reste trois mois dans la nouvelle année.
Je ne sais pas ce que je vais faire à la fin de l’année prochaine mais je sais avec confiance que je serai bon.
L’Allemagne me manque, c’est vrai, mais je pense que je préfère la France maintenant. C’est peut-être parce que la langue est plus facile pour moi. Quoi qu’il en soit, je suis en France et j’ai tous mes rêves.
A Paris, c’est trop cher comme toutes les autres grandes villes. J’ai trouvé un bar qui s’appelle <<La Robe et La Mousse>> et je viens de m’asseoir. Les murs sont turquoises sur des morceaux de vieilles pierres. Les lampes sont circulaires et montrent leur éclat dans de petits mondes de lumière.
Je suis content de la vie que j’ai dessinée ici. Tout dépend de moi, et calme quand je le veux. Mais d’un autre côté, c’est excitant quand je le veux.
C’est parfait pour moi, mais quand même, je n’ai jamais de contentement longtemps. Je ne l’ai jamais fait.
Je suis allé à Paris plus de cinq fois cette année mais je n’ai jamais eu le temps de voir la ville sereinement depuis 2019 où j’y suis allé avec mes parents. C’est très différent maintenant et plus libre, mais je suis hanté par les ombres des souvenirs de notre temps ici. Je vois encore et encore le même restaurant.
A ce bar maintenant, je peux voir que le serveur n’est pas francais. C’est très bizarre quand je sais les différences de parler tandis que je ne suis pas française non plus et que ma française n’est pas bien. Mais je remarque et je pense que c’est un bon signe pour mes études.
Ce restaurant est bon, il n’y a pas beaucoup de gens et le serveur est gentil. La seule chose que je n’aime pas est mon chapeau rose. Je ne suis pas confortable comme ça mais il n’y en a pas beaucoup pour moi a fait.
Bientôt, je vais aller à San Diego et le froid sera derrière moi.
j’ai peur de perdre mes progrès en français mais j’ai décidé de continuer à lire, écrire, et étudier pendant que je suis là. Une des choses qui m’excitent pour les Etats Unis est le changement de mes vêtements. Le style est important pour moi, la mode est tout.
Pendant que je suis en Europe, j’ai choisi mes tenues dans mes deux valises. C’était terrible, mais ce n’est pas la fin du monde. Quoi qu’il en soit, j’ai hâte de choisir parmi un placard agrandi. Ce sera une sensation incroyable après tout ce temps.
De même, j’ai hâte de manger de la nourriture mexicaine. Cette cuisine se sent toujours comme à la maison. C’est vrai que j’adore la cuisine française, mais vraiment mexicaine c’est mieux.
Ma famille et mes amis m’attendent à l’autre bout du monde, mais je serai là tout de suite.
Après tous mes voyages, je ne suis pas prêt de dire <<au revoir>> aux autres pays. Je vais dire <<à plus tard>> mais je reviendrai. C’est une promesse.
A plus tard France, tu vas me manquer ainsi que toutes les personnes que j’ai rencontrées. (Et désolé pour les mots que j’ai mal compris, je vais réessayer.)
The crowds swallow the street in tufted beanies and wound scarves, hands plunging deep in puffer pockets while chins tuck into the wrap of their necks. It is cold, but there are presents to purchase.
Wooden stands make two wide isles in front of the white-painted Ferris Wheel and mingle pottery and jewelry with sugar-stuffed churros and vin chaud. I look over the artisan spreads next to everyone else with an open mind and a closed wallet. I have neither the space nor spare change to pick up stray beauty, but it’s fun to hold rings and ceramics to the sky and play into pretend consideration, isn’t it?
(I won’t lie to you; I did give into a bright pink beanie. Though, in my defense, it was cold, cheap, and cute; a kryptonic trio.)
My crew shuffles through the wide eyes flitting between passing fancies on our way to the imposing wheel. Five euros each buys us a place in a small box car rotating three times slowly before the inevitable dismount.
From this angle, the city expands, but away from Rennes’ central buildings, there is not much to see beyond the bustling market immediately below us. The nearest intersection sighs with the crude exchange of cars and exhaust, hot tufts in the air. Clashing against the cold, a shade or two denser than the warm breath that escapes us.
Feet on the ground once more, we take ourselves to L’Arts de Fou Marche in front of the Rennes’ Opera Theater. Here, artisans of tactile art line a long loop of sculptures, jewelry, bowls and cups, and installation pieces. All these leading softly into a tented pavilion for the quiet consumption of wine and beer. The art relies heavily on animal shapes and nature’s form broken from the canvas of raw rock.
Impressive in every sense of the word, but expensive and regrettably reserved for the high class. The only place I can picture these pieces is in the grand and cold entryway of a mansion inhabited by whisps of white. To be looked upon and appreciated by everyone but its owners.
Just another three minutes away takes us to the most Christmas-heavy marche in front of Rennes’ parliament building.
A larger-than-life Christmas tree stands, somehow, dressed decadently in red bows and reflective globes. This pop-up center sticks to the food side, selling crepes, churros, and pastries alongside metal pots of vin chaud and hot cider.
With my hot cider in hand, we crowd around the handmade tables of stumps and logs that surround the larger sapin. It tastes of cinnamon and closed-eye inhales on Christmas. Gloves are replaced by the heat of our paper cups, and we look at each other through the steady wisps of steam that rise from the rim.
The cider settles over the lunch we shared before exploring these marches. This morning we met at a restaurant called Avec, a fairly unassuming name though it still subtly begs the question, with what?
As I entered the surprisingly American warehouse structure, I realized they worked with every auxiliary business they could fit into their overwhelming hipster aesthetic. Don’t get me wrong, the turquoise and burnt-yellow shaped furniture and displayed motorcycles cradled an atmosphere that was anything but tacky.
Yet, including a tattoo parlor, barbershop, merchandise shop, and auto-moto workshop in their bare metal restaurant undeniably draws the image of a 2014 man sketching graphite over his black notebooks, sipping teaspoons from small cortados. I could almost see him among the crowd with his nondescript face, which did nothing but bring an amused smile to mine.
Avec’s food and beverage side mixes cocktails and burgers for brunch before offering an ice cream bar for dessert. I inhaled my homemade fries and burger without guilt; it is the holiday season after all. Besides, I might as well take that first step back into American culture.
Not unlike Johnny Cash, as he sings, “ I keep the ends out for the tie that binds… I walk the line,” I walk this tightrope without slack. I’ve already cranked the dial, bit by bit, consuming everything untaught in the years of weeknight poetry groups and the tight art circles of strangers.
Hung low in these rooms was the kind of cigarette smoke embedded in the fabric of suburban kids’ trench coats as they all sing their hymns of too much and too little in the wrong categories.
Here, in the anonymity of a crowded room of the like-minded, I shed the last scales of self-loathing and read it into the past tense.
There are so many ways we are ourselves with the people we love. They are all true and carried and backed by watchful eyes that back your own out of authority. How many times can you break bones and find something different in front of the same people?
In the 2019 first freedom of dorm room homes and month-long family, I broke into new poses of myself countless times. My roommates heard “you know what I just realized?” more times than they heard the word “sick” tumble from my mouth. It was just as automatic.
This constant phrase changed its ending every time, contradicting its predecessors and followers with the kind of truth borne from this second’s reality. Each break in my brittle bones offered a new way to look at what makes marrow.
Every observation is true, even existing in opposition. That is the value of poetry.
These moments of clarity, spurred thought from another person’s words, or the sight of water dripping that begs a reality from inside you, can be immortalized as any emotion in art.
So as my friends tired of my repeated self-realizations, I spun them into ballads of wavering woe.
These first months of poetry classes, and the new opportunity for spoken word Wednesdays in the 7 pm writing center room, allowed me to pull a new authenticity from myself.
I didn’t have to be the blonde, suburban kid with too much privilege to divert her attention from issues of self-image and intimacy. With these same materials, I could be a voice that walks directly over human metaphors and recognizes the quiet thoughts that whisper in each person’s ear.
I fell in love with metaphors, allusions, hyperboles, conceits, just lyric. Words that can be read in an infinite amount of ways, each time plucking a chord of truth. Like humans, poems can mean a million different things to a million different people.
I became a voice, a speaker, separated from myself, my name, and anything about me except the immovable fact that my mind made these words.
It’s true, what some people say, that most of the time, strangers are the only people you can be completely honest with. I took this expression to heart and wrote from each crevice of my ever-changing understanding of my world.
We try on many different selves, don’t we, when we realize that first permission to make ourselves what we want. When we remember that people only know what we tell them, people only see what we show them.
So I dyed my hair purple. I pierced third holes in my ears with only half the materials required. I stabbed my wrist with stick n poke mistakes that are all mine. I ate the dining hall’s macaroni n cheese pizza for breakfast and drank their black coffee for dinner. I kissed boys and girls and left the party. I apologized and said “I wish” to people who asked me for cigarettes even though I never smoked them myself. I painted blue around my eyes, debuted them at the campus underage bar, and gave them an encore in COM 103 the next morning.
I followed through on every thought that hung around my head for longer than a class period, and then I read the email, and everything changed because I felt I couldn’t anymore.
Covid stole my dorm room home and new-friend-family. It stole my unencumbered realizations and my poetry evenings and everything new I had begun to call myself.
But, in the shelter of my old room, I continued to write with the self that now dominated me, and I hurt people.
Instead of calling strangers closer in rooms that called words home, I tugged on the heartstrings of my original home with words that family felt rejected every good thing they ever gave me. Still, I selfishly refused to give up the part of myself that reveled in the honesty that poetry allowed me without focusing on the facts that surrounded me.
Emotional truth is real, without needing physical fact to bolster the feeling.
Time here passed, somehow, and we can still debate whether or not it’s over. Both are true.
I wrote myself through another two years of English classes, poured my soul into poetry workshops, and earned practical credit in marketing courses. I presented a thesis collection based on an ancient religious poet and my conflicted feelings for my ex-boyfriend. I heard enough praise that I held no hesitation in creating this blog space for my self-indulgent travels and self-promoted poems.
I love it. Having a place to post thoughts I can no longer subject to whatever unfortunate group is trying to relax in my living room. But with this kind of platform, I have lost the complete anonymity I am used to.
I write for no audience, then send my words into the ether that is truly, if we want to talk about objective facts, made of friends, family, and followers who know my real name.
I want to be completely honest, but I am not used to hurting anyone but myself with my words.
Another poetry collection I have been working on for a while, this one is full of half-truths, momentary backtracks, and muted confessions. Trying to love again, in some watered-down way, I write out of that valley in my mind. The dip that cradles new hearts and breaks them, as I continue to patch myself together.
(disclaimer: if you are my family, you may want to skip this one ;))
I feel my figure tracked along the road and I know I am there. Breathing in front of other bodies. When I write, it is for me, my truth & I don’t care to offend other eyes, but still, the thought of others weighs heavy on my hands. Inked words given an end stop, a pause, where I imagine a read receipt at each indent.
You hold this power over me. You know you do that’s why you loved me. Thats why I can’t be around you. I dream of the day you’ll cry and I’ll feel nothing. No pulse will slow and quick. No drawn heart will ricochet in my soul. I dream of this day with my eyes closed, pressed shut so that one day I can see you, and see nothing.
What do I call you?
You go by many names, and baby, so do I. I snake like a poison around my own ears and listen to the city’s heartbeat from an open window. Costar reminds me to “notice everything” and darling, I do. Someone drips their words onto my skin makes love to my lips and touches me with sweetness unmatched by any second-day sugar. I dream of someone in sliding photographs, because I am not comfortable in still frames. Hovering, always writing, over any page.
White lies are only white if the truth doesn’t matter.
Why can’t I stop biting my cheeks? Like flesh pealing from raw lips will silence your circular swarm. All midnight thoughts pull back to what I should have said and what you shouldn’t have. There is no one I love more and trust less than you. The pink skin inside lips and tongue are meant to heal the fastest. So I am always ready to bleed, each time you chew my mind. With every 2am earache, every 3am tear, every 4am conversation between teeth, comes severed skin. You don’t hear the words I scream at you they are in my head but I bear my teeth anyways. Cannines into wet scabs blood until breakfast.
there is another face pulling me when i listen to music a new theme in my soundtrack written away from the name that held too much for too long. but there are too many lyrics about someone else now there is a sweet song sliding through my ears and it builds something new inside me stacking tracks in a direction i forgot was possible. youth has a second coming, i knew it was far from over those vibrating notes were just the prelude. i have albums in me countless plastic photographs to gloss over with greasy fingertips that lie in whatever future waits for me. songs come a few times a week and they aren’t repeats anymore, though the artist remains the same. dark eyes pull me into the present, into this morning city in front of us.
I thought you could be toxic while he seeped into my brain with his own poison, but maybe both can be true. Could your love for me just be a little too much? Enough to see through his bullshit when I was blind. And I need you, toxins and all, to erode all these ill intentions. You are the only one I trust to love me when everything goes up in smoke. I wait for your text, so I can divulge my soul to you. So I can tell you everything I don’t know how to say to myself. I can’t stand it when you are quiet. You sleep, or work, or dance while I roam another city and reach for your love with the stars.
How can we be reduced to a grain of our sand? How do we become defined by our final moments? Like all true stories, there was always going to be an end to your sweet. Your bittersweet cavity moaned loud through painkillers and I sink into that feeling again. It swells, the molasses you left me to drown in, this stick of you to my skin. Sugared sick covering every crevice filling all empty flesh. Then I know this quicksand sweet will become a grain. It must, in time, despite the residue. You- we are a part of me. Still, you & I & we are only a moment of everything.
You aren’t the “he” my diary knows without context, and nothing is life or death anymore.
What would he do if he knew I was writing about him? Would he be colored in red? Or know the impact of his stroke, Know how he lands on me, And how his fingers curl me inside. He wants a playlist, and I want him, Right now, Even if I don’t know for how long. He’ll always be alive in my memory. Exist as a sexy patch of light Illuminating the French ridges of my mind. Filling the space I thought would stay empty here. And am I scared of him or how he makes me feel? Who am I to know.
I would be lying if I said that your affection doesn’t draw me to you or that your free-flowing nights out don’t buy out the fifty percent of my brain that says- stupid girl, run. I don’t know if I’ve ever known I was making a mistake while I made it before. Not like this, not for this long. You are dangerous. But are you really? Now that I think I know you? Do your gentle friends excuse the sharp edge below your steering wheel like I do? Does the sweetness of your thumb on my chin excuse what it does to faces that aren’t mine? I know it is wrong when you throw the first punch, and it makes me want you. You broke your hand because you are too hard, but with me, you are softer than butter. I don’t have to touch you to melt you. Just the heat of my hand begins to break you, but still, you touch me.
You were supposed to be grass under my shoe, Nothing. Nothing but a blade, Fresh-faced and green. Climbing up my boot Caressing my leather until I crush you. But now I’m crushing on you, Looking at the space below my platformed heel, Hesitating. You were supposed to be grass. Beautiful and temporary, Just for the season Then gone. Your last pleasure, the crunch Underfoot.
19 seconds on the clock, and this beer falls down my throat easy. How else are we meant to walk but hand in hand? If I text you twice, will you smile, or cringe away from my name? You make me feel safe, somehow, as I scroll and react. So shallow against your words. I love you. No, I didn’t say that. I just think about you often. You live and lie in my brain now. Just a tiny version of everything I know about you. I am tempted to know you, I hesitate, and want you. Oh, I really do, I want you. I just don’t know about forever.
How many times will I let you feed me lines, and gift you any semblance of belief? You haven’t meant what you said in a year. I dont believe a word from the forked tongue you tearfully split, and for the first time I know it’s true. I dont want to be with you. It took one picture, and in that moment something in me shifted. I grew white hot at the switches flip and here I am finally angry with you. It is all your fault, this hurt. I know it is your fault, because I looked inside myself I scraped every hallow with responsibility, and all I can find of mine is softness. I am too soft. I’ve always been too sweet. I should have screamed at you while I had the chance. It took a while, but I have found my sharpness. The part of me that cuts, and how dare you sharpen me out of understanding. How dare you make me cry on my birthday because you were too weak to bite your lip for one day. How dare you decide for me what I deserve, from everyone and you. How dare you tell me constantly that one day you would come back after you severed us, because you were too scared to imagine us in a straight line. How dare you cut down your own promises, like they were crops only rooted in this season’s reality. How dare you never tell me the whole fucking truth. How dare you swear to me you’ll follow through, this time, and convince me with drunk words that you love me. You told me to wait for you. Not to cry because you couldn’t handle it. And these are things I will never do for you. Not if you ask.
Ahead of Myself.
I don’t think I’ll miss you when I’m gone but what if that’s a lie? What if I’m the one who is falling and your arms just happen to be there to catch me? I keep tracing back to the time you held me. naked and sweaty from our nightly activities, and you just held me. At the time, all that ran through my head was fuck. What the fuck am I doing leading you on like this? It’s cruel. If you just want to be held. But now it’s me who is thinking about it. Why am I thinking about it? On the street, I’ll start smiling, because of something you said. This is wrong, I’m not supposed to think about you if you are not inside me. But I see you, The next day, and the day after that. And I’m okay with that. If I never ran into you at that bar, met you for a second time at Rennes’ universal rendezvous, I would have never said yes again. I was planning on fading, a fond memory, and now I hope to remember you for myself. The man is supposed to miss me, I am supposed to feel a bit guilty, shrug it off, and become a ghost.
When he warned me, i almost died as I soaked cotton crossed and uncrossed my legs, one strewn across his knee now. His hands like my hair, they like drawing loose strands around my ear, and turning my eyes to his. He says he is trying to be good for me, and after our first round romp he stopped me still in the back of his car and held me. He rested my head on his shoulder and did the same. Simple, but not what I was expecting. Soothing our skin with forward fingertips unafraid and unencumbered no thought. On his shoulder lines a dragon inked and ridged as I feel it, and with another kiss, we are all fire again. His hand grips my throat, and I wish I had the words to say harder. Plus fort, I guess, but instead, I place my hand over his and squeeze. He doesn’t want to hurt me but he should I will hurt him.
Do we start our story at the beginning or the end? I write in my pink notebook Like it’s normal at the bar Because it is, isn’t it? Doesn’t everyone write while they want a cigarette? Doesn’t everyone dance this dance? Tongues dance a million languages between us And I don’t know which is yours. Between these and a thousand other tongues I will choose you. I choose you. For now and as far as I can see into the future, Which is never longer than a week. Isn’t that enough? I make enough mistakes in my French to speak to others with assistance But with you I use nothing. I am raw with you, and you try to understand me. C’est pas nécessaire, mais pour toi c’est vrai. C’est nécessaire. Je suis nécessaire.
But is it even that simple? Or is it that feeling, Between my legs Between my eyes and his Between the made beds we untuck And ruin. It’s his job, To be in the dark and on the run And maybe I’m okay with that Because one foot props the door. But then my stomach clenches With each minute he waits to speak And I want him to keep on wanting me Like he does Even if that means breaking him. I cool my conscience by telling him small things, With words he may not understand. Maybe I let this go on, Because I like the way he feels With his hand on my back With my fingers tracing secrets on his thigh. Of course, I like how he feels, I like our franglish jokes with their belated punchlines. The way I talk around the right word And his lips move slowly to teach me the sound. Those lips curl around our words then my lips And he is disarmed in translation. He cannot lie, Or maneuver his words to serve him. There is no mincing between us. He says what he means, and I say it again, Because when do we understand the first time? Our mouths take time to know each other, And our tongues know what to say without words. We are high on his work and my American deprivation, Learning new ways to say it. Exchanging expressions like currency though it’s him who pays for everything. He wants to buy me everything, But I can’t tell if I believe him. I’ve been trained to discredit sincerity, To write off promises, To add disbelief to anything said in love. But why would he pretend when I have given him nothing? I tell him not to pay, Because every coin is charged to my guilty conscience. Because I will leave, you can bet on it.
I have nothing and everything to say to you.
Tears soak into gray on my violet sweatshirt. You still have my favorite one, you wanted it and told me it would be waiting for me, with you when I flew back to you. And I said okay. Because I believed you when you said we would meet again. I left clothes in drawers you cleared for me & I wish I was colder to you. I wish your face didn’t startle me with forgotten contours burn-branded into me. You took liberties, and I wish I screamed at you. But I smiled & everything was your idea. This was all your idea, from the beginning. And I wasn’t angry for so long. For too long my love for you burned so bright it charred the split ends of my skin and clotted the flowing blood for me. Love licked my wounds and understanding numbed the way I never really stopped bleeding. But this love was temporary, just like yours and I still need stitches & fuck you for that. I can’t believe all the ways I let you fuck me. Over & Over & Anyway you wanted. Nothing was off limits for you. I was blind. And so small. And crying. But I loved you enough to choke down the tears I drank them, so you didn’t have to see, but now they are coming back up. Soaked with bile & blood & other indesgressions you asked me to swallow. You’ve never seen me angry. Not really. Its rare, a shooting star, burning through myself, I go cold. Tears fall like ice, I speak slow, through clenched teeth steam whistles like a kettle. You’ve never seen me angry. Not like this.
everyone calls me sunshine it’s in my hair lining my face as the first thing out of their mouths, once they run out of generics. i’m sure there are many of us called sunshine, can we get together, start a club, and talk about what our lovers say to us what they call us and think is original? can we hold each other, bright and breaking the stars of love burning, and the gold that falls around my shoulders can be too much. because firing eyes can cool into ashes, and they will understand this. just for the minutes recorded by our sunshine secretary can we bring a room to absolute darkness, hang our tired arms at our sides and we won’t have to smile. no one has to smile, we can laugh at the literal our favorite color- yellow, and the golden brows that tip the scale of our overwrought imagery. we are not sunny, we are the sun. the burning ball that shows the ones who share our bed the morning.
It’s crazy to imagine someone trying to get over me. Me? Maybe its narcissistic, but I crave to know what it is like to know me, to unknow me. How do I look to the other eye? How does this other mind think over me? This other heart bleeding over my name. I wonder what it is like to mourn me. I used to hate the way I looked, but I’ve never hated myself. Because it’s me. If I don’t like me, I can change myself. Everything there is to hate is under my control. Everyone else is the obstacle. So I wonder what it is like to breathe in the wake of me, and I ponder what must come after.
Am I scared of love again? I don’t think so but how can I tell? I don’t want anyone, but if I feel the spark, that magic. If I felt that familiar feeling I think I would jump again. Broken bones heal, and broken hearts only have so much blood to bleed.
I am sick to my stomach, or at least that’s how my body is reacting to a lazy day with little food. I know you like me. I can tell by the way you kiss places that aren’t my lips. So I don’t know why I haven’t heard you today. Are you okay? Are you running? What plagues you? Because you plague me today. My eyes dart with every flash from my home screen. I wish you would help me quiet you, before I realize I actually care.
I can’t lie, not to a blank page. Though I am an expert at lying without words.
Come to Class.
It astounds me, How we all listen and understand Words spoken and taken. Paragraphs spell out everything But I keep some for myself, With you everything is half. I half know you. I give half of myself to you. And you half understand this.
Is it worse for you to hurt, or to ignore me? I don’t know what to think. I am sat outside a bar, there are pool tables inside, but I only want to play with you. You are somewhere in the ethereal, the dense cloud of ether, connected, or not, to magnets in the sky. But even if you were here, I would still be floating, wishing you were tuned to my skin. You are a placeholder, not my anchor. You aren’t heavy enough to ground my lips to the surface.
You trace your hand between swollen skin and I feel nothing but the warm pulse of life. No sparks fly from your fingertips, its almost like I can’t feel you at all, so I don’t need you to stop. I like cosplaying as your girlfriend, drinking your drinks, smoking your splifs, holding your hand in mine. I rebuke guilt with laughter and rejection, don’t give me any gifts of permanence. Don’t give me anything of permanence.
I tell you I am too young to think about staying, but there are so many ways you don’t hear me. I can see the hope you won’t let me crush. Not completely. I hear you stop yourself from asking something too serious. Something you will have to hear the answer to. Declarations of union earn you nothing but aversion, disbelief and laughter yet you re-itch to ask me for a reason. I stare blankly until you toss your feelings to the wind, and there is fear in me that you will actually buy a ring. Please don’t ask me anything, I could never say yes.
You touch our lips, and it could be a hug. I feel less than when I press against best friends in dim parties. Or the first time he broke skin, and I asked if it was done. Closing my eyes with the creak wood platforms and stuffed feathers. You push inside me and seek more, stretching to touch iris to iris. But when I meet your eyes like this, it feels like lying. Lying by acting out hope. By inviting you to forget every rejection from my mouth, because look how you make it gasp.
When I Grow Up.
Age comes and I believed it when it promised everything I had ever wanted. But the candles burned to their end without needing my permission. With time’s abundant hands the golden thread can be spun too long or too short as it carries you through and moves, independent of our limbs. Then and now is nothing. An invisible wind on a clock ticks a sleeping child older, seeping time into bones. Months can pass in seconds, and seconds can be pulled into eons and these are all just different types of waiting. A lobby waiting room you don’t see around you, until someone calls your name.
Stop fucking your friends.
I wish I could take back knowing you. Because now you are a friend. One who twists my hair around your finger, looking at the contrast. Smiling at my smile, while your voice only queues this mantra I ignore.
With twenty songs, Taylor over-delivered on her promise of thirteen new tracks dropping on the 20th of October. Midnights, and the extended 3 AM tracks, is one of those albums that takes a few subsequent listens before the full impact of her words hit you. Like all of her music, I hear sung poetry and could spend days in her worded worlds.
On first listen, I can understand those who will make typical comments about the homogeny of the tracks. However, as you press replay and listen individually to each song, Taylor’s genius shines through each complete encapsulation of the types of thoughts that keep you up, keep you dancing, and keep you dreaming past midnight.
If I were to get into all twenty, we would be here all day. So for your enjoyment, and mine, here are my first five favorites.
Paris I wanna brainwash you into loving me forever
Starting with a this-city-is-too-small scene in her first lines, Taylor captures that feeling that burns just outside the static that clings to you and your bottle. The synapses of electricity and nerves that follow you through nights spent betwixt flashing lights and empty alleyways.
Those spiraling midnights that pass without time into 3 AMs without you caring, so long as they pass with the ones you choose to love tonight.
This track inescapably brings me back to those first nights out when I was eighteen with my new friends in Chicago. Drinking cheap wine through quiet alleys, not knowing the difference between this and champagne in Paris. The only thing we need to feel is the embrace of youth that adorns everything in that hyper-sentimentality of now.
And this is what Taylor delivers.
High Infidelity Put on your records and regret me I bent the truth too far tonight I was dancing around, dancing around it
With the knowledge of Zoë Kravits’ collaboration on this album, it is hard to believe that she did not have a hand in the creation of this song. That being said, the most notable similarities between High Infidelity and the closely named High Fidelity, come in Taylor’s use of record-related imagery.
Telling her lover to “put on [their] records… put on [their] headphones and burn [her] city,” Taylor cues her listeners into the presence of music within the relationship she describes. Though “burn my city” can be taken as an instruction to her lover to get back at her by erasing something she loves, I prefer to think of it as a continuation of the record-era imagery.
She knows that her lover may put on their own records and drown their regret in familiar music, but will ultimately turn on her memory. Playing their scenes together through headphones connected to a burned CD implies that these good ‘ole days memories have not been made since we traded music on silver disks.
Bejeweled Familiarity breeds contempt So put me in the basement
This hit a little too close to home. With this track, Taylor perfectly encapsulates the sharp line you walk when you love yourself more than the one you love does.
In her first verse, she sets the tone of the relationship described as she admits to being too nice to her lover, putting them first while she no longer makes their top five. Though she communicates this longing for their affection, she also breaks from any ultimate attachment by letting them know, “by the way, I’m going out tonight.”
As the song continues, Taylor notes that although her lover no longer sees her shimmer, it is still brilliant for her and everyone else. “Whats a girl gonna do? A diamonds gotta shine”
Placing some distance between her and her lover, blinded by familiarity, she tells the men who come like moths to her flame that she “can still say I don’t remember” if she has a man. If he wants to draw her back into the “penthouse of [his] heart” that she desired, he will have to wait in line.
The dichotomy of your relationship with yourself while you love someone more than they love you is hard to express with all the layered nuance and particular quality of self-love, but Taylor puts it plainly. “I miss you, but I miss sparkling.”
Vigilante Shit He was doin’ lines and crossin’ all of mine… Picture me, thick as thieves with your ex-wife
Introducing more characters in her sung story, Taylor depicts an intertwined relationship between her speaker and an ex-husband and wife.
Ending most of the verses and versions of the chorus with a variation of “I don’t dress for women, I don’t dress for men, lately I’ve been dressing for revenge,” she flips the script of the typical dynamic between a couple and a mistress. “Ladies always rise above,” can be identified as the driving theme behind her lines, as she goes on to describe collaborations with his ex-wife. Taylor gives her proof, draws in the law, and gets even, on her vigilante shit.
This inverse, illustrating no scorned and broken woman, or the hysterical mania that is stereotypically prescribed to wronged women, takes on sultry overtones. The slow, vibrating beat swells behind her voice as she sings lines like, “she looks so pretty, drivin’ in your benz,” and “don’t get sad, get even.”
Question…? Does it feel like everything’s just second best After that meteor strike?
When I listen to lyrical music, I most commonly find (or seek out) songs that I can identify direct feelings with. Songs where I can be the abandoned woman, cursing or mourning her inadequate lover. But this time, Taylor hit me over the head with every question I asked myself in those first months of loss. No anger or resentment yet, just questions and imagined scenarios that reply through your mind.
“Good girl, sad boy,” “you painted all my nights a color I’ve been searching for since,” and “did you wish you put up more of a fight when she said it was too much?” Damn Taylor.
There are too many perfect communications of the miscommunications that haunt you as the night creeps into day. The questions you close your eyes and ask your ceiling a million times until one night, you just fall asleep.
There is something stopping me. A cork lodged sideways in Sauvignon, I feel like I am eighteen again, prying that pressed bark from dark glass with a fork. Using every object but the real thing to remove the blockage. Like my young hands leveraging the fork, I try to find substitutes.
Yoga in the morning, reading again from the Charlotte Bronte novel I can only digest piece by piece, long sips of coffee, pulling the caffeine behind my eyes, bus rides to unseen corners of the city. All these forks I try, but I am a firm believer in not forcing myself.
I never want to feel writing as that proverbial monkey, and I don’t want the comfort of losing myself in lyric to slip from my grasp. But as with any love, roadblocks in my writing deserve attention. This is the labor of love.
I can talk the circumference of a million circles new and exciting, but I can’t quite calculate the heart.
I am in a new city, yes, but what new stone hasn’t been overturned somewhere else? To take a page from the eternal Bronte, I’ll address you, fair reader, and ask selfishly, what should I do?
Do you want more flowery drawings of nature? Recitations of journies sat on bus seats, rides on new metro systems? Imagined stories I derive from ancient paint? A ranking of the best places to place my high-maintenance coffee order?
Maybe. But right now, my pen cannot ink those words in a new way. I want to return to these light-hearted topics, to revel in the beauty of the simplest moments I find in each day, but right now, I do not know how. Whether it is a classic case of burnout, a symptom of the sputtering broken heart that started my Summer, or a touch of that delightful writers’ block all us creatives experience, it doesn’t really matter. I need a purge.
I need to cleanse myself of all the little pieces and poems that are choking my bottleneck. So here is the cork, the pieces I am spitting out slowly, the pressed oak I’ve dismissed in previous posts and I am finally coughing from my throat.
The Three-Year-Old Paper Clip I Keep On My Pocket
something so small it becomes a feeling something your eyes learn to ignore unnecessary information, unworthy of sight until it’s gone. it’s the opposite of an aberration, whatever this is, but just as eerie when it leaves. I can feel myself growing more abstract each day I spend in my own world. one day I’ll be modern art, that red square selling for millions to millionaires who purse their lips and whisper to each other, “do you get it?” “I do.” they lie, their gold bracelet wrists bend under sculpted jaw, and they nod because they think there is a point. but what makes art but the lack of words to describe what we feel. we fill in these gaps, hoping some arrangement of letters or colors will unlock meaning like magic. what if my art is just this filler? will you need magic to understand me? I’m not hard, not expensive. I’m as simple as a toddler paperclip, bent and flexed around a flap of denim. the denim is not important; none of this is, but it’s the piece of silver that makes it worth it. the glint of metal that makes it mine, so special in the way it sits, ordinary. arms in shallow spread, reaching to hold onto something important.
I miss the morning moments, when my body grew different each day. Time spent discovering the curves to my edges, realizing what my body could do, where it could stretch, how it could bend, learning the limits to my bones and how they snapped as I broke myself over a crack in the concrete. Now I only grow inside. New synapses accentuate the curves of my brain. Knowing my body and teaching it to others, I learn what their bodies say and what they mean breaking my insides over the cracks in their promises.
Do I write for the love of watching my own ink line the page? Do I love the control of curling each letter, a tendril of intention? Is it that I want to see my words stick to each other, cursive delicacies I gift myself? This self-indulgence in letters that breeds pride in violating their classroom rules. Am I addicted to the smile that clicks ignore on red underlines? All this is more modest than screaming my name in a crowd, but hardly humble. How can I feign humility on the sanctity of the open page as I grip it, host myself spilling forth, and ask you read this.
Here is the Truth
One month of stamina burned through everything I ever wanted, but I am still here. And I am paranoid, for the first time in ages. I think about him constantly & drink about him often all over again, after weeks of solace. What if I just drown myself in Red Wine and Aperol rather than sun & steps forward? I think I hear Rush on the loudspeaker, but to be honest, I hear my own voice louder. Asking if I can just let myself drink until my lips choose another’s over another glass of wine & maybe if I were younger, I would. Or if it wasn’t just me, a world away & alone, perhaps I could give in and not sit solitary & sober. What glory of stupid youth this would be, to go to the same Mexican restaurant across from my Austrian apartment & order €2.50 drinks all night until all I know is walking home.
The Same Words I Hear In My Head Each Time I Walk Outside
Listen to the timeless symphonies of leaves on leaves See how bark liters the same space where sprouts reach their green heads from hours of shade Or watch the soft plummet of curled brown arms as they break from steam These are the lyrics, the only real ones Silver circles signal away birds from their garden Blinding my eyes with each turn of the wind How slow can we break from ourselves How many times can we break from blindness and return to it Forsake our own cycles for this natural reverence and curl back like fetal flesh into ourselves each morning
The man with the pink cast looks over his lashes through the window
& at first I was offended. Another male figure taking the liberty of a perfect view of me, sat up & prettily in the sun, eyes tracing pages and lines. Now, caught in glance myself, I can’t help but sit straighter. Easy voyeur, performing myself for him, smile curling with my pages, slowing my throat as I sip my coffee, eyes caught on his in earnest.
Land of the free man & home of big britches.
these stomachs stretching 50 buttons til they pop some strained more than others plastic flying one by one while some hold on by white thread fortified by the twisted integrity of a population who defines the word differently
its time for new clothing whoever said classic doesn’t go out of style was lying to cover a country with bleach so all would ignore the big eyesore the oozing from the same ignorant sores, from the elbow, where all come together, resting against its own skin unable to see how it rubs itself raw
When I Was Afraid of Spiders
my spine crawled at the sight eight legs pin pricking points along my back a myriad of eyes sparkling into mine toes curled at this contact. Now arachnidan figures hanging loose from tented ceiling don’t shake me. Instead, my eyes close and rest easy, spine riddled rather by the harsh reality of the rest of this sleeping-bagged world.
Where are we Ourselves?
I am most myself in a crowd If I fall, here, it is real. There are eyes to see and mouths to laugh as mine do, at every folly. But there are two beings inside of me. There is Caroline, made & maintained by all those who see her. She is beautiful & happy red-faced & laughing. Then there is me, and I have no name. I am just a something, something that comes from inside. I stare with Caroline’s face & debate the center of being. Am I her brain? All her intrusive and intrinsic thoughts? Or am I in the face? The identifying cue to her name that feels different each time it burns into our retinas. Or is that just it? Am I her eyes? Trapped in these green iris depths, at the glittering point of our envisioned world.
Red Wine Lips
I want to lick hers, over there or his, just the same red & dripping- fresh & warm- flesh & wanting. Do you think they would mind? If I drowned in cherry & took the headache like a pill, blue first, then swallowing the oxidized color choking on the glass. Do you think they would care? If red passed between us, like a secret. If we looked the same & the slices were just stomped grapes sinking into the anemic feeling sinking into the barrel, aging. Could you tell the difference between us, if you only saw us from inside pressed and trampled fruit. I’ll blow smoke over us, if she is me & him & I watch all of us, dancing there, with flowing hair & drenched trousers. Can you tell which exhale is warm air, and which is air burning? Can you tell who I am? Red. Like a fallen apple, but those can be green too. Ripe & ready to be juiced, I am all the colors in between.
Just Because You Mean What You Say Doesn’t Mean You Are Telling The Truth
Bristle pulls through the gold that hangs in tangles from my head. Start from the bottom, we all know this, it hurts less, & work your way to the scalp. Tease the strands into straight lines like straight foreplay & with a quick flick from the same stroke over & over see how the ends omit a faint mist- a second shower, this one for dust as it falls to the floor. I wish I could live there, be a single strand floating in the post-soap soft cloud where all is washed & not red, scrubbed & not raw. I want to glow from places other than my hair. From that empty hall inside, the space I must gargle and rinse out of me with salt. Spitting out its pieces like the second mist of spring snow.
when we assaulted my childhood bathroom my father and I armed ourselves with hammers and saws and sandpaper first we stripped paint from the walls layer after layer we peeled pink after purple and took back the yellow I asked for years ago. I grabbed hammer in the iron-clad grip children seem to possess & wrecked havoc broke walls into their naked beauty, smashed through the second door that made everything too small all while my father sawed in half the tub we could never bleach white enough and from the empty space I pulled powder and nails before we paused looked upon a paper cup with plastic straw preserved by working hands in the hallow walls of the room long before I was built
climbing over you is nothing but building a wall backward taking plaster from planks pulling on that pink cotton candy that’s where you are, you are the fleshy fiberglass sparkling at me with your supposed soft that cuts each hand reaching for your false pink.
Though my reason for this morning trip to Chambery is far from ideal, as I sip my Cafe Glace, I can feel my bones loosen as the city’s charm works its magic on me.
So much empty space reaches its body from market to market, from boutique to cafe. Ancient cobblestone polished by the tracks of over 700 years of foot traffic. The light steps of locals trace these ghosts of Sovie’s 1295 kingdom capital, and it is hard to be upset about my little tragedies.
My waterlogged laptop, the bike gear tear in my jeans, the broken teeth of my expensive wallet zipper, and the never-ending soap drama of getting prescriptions in a foreign country. Okay, I am still upset about the laptop, but really, I shouldn’t be.
How many people have trampled over this very spot with no grasp of what the word laptop could possibly mean? How many trousers have been torn from ankles here? I am lucky to have coins to spill from my wallet, and experiencing another country is a gift I will never regret.
Privilege checked for the moment, my mind can wander from red roof to gray tower, awed by the morning mist that enchants Chambery’s center even further.
I can see eras of petticoats catching on the stone underfoot. The same stone clacked by horseshoes and soothed by wooden wheels for hundreds of years. Ivory canes stamp the places in between, and language passes like a human symphony. Moss grows in tufts along pale walls and collects in green patches where stone and cobblestone make their corner, forever.
Amid the regular chatter, my ears pick up on the sound of English from the table beside me. I overhear one woman, dressed in green beaded lace that travels from collar to floor, telling her knit sweater companion that “you cannot truly be yourself in front of others. That is simply the performance of self.”
I have heard this remark before, and though I have previously decided it doesn’t strike in me a complete note of truth, it does spur delicate digestion of the words.
Which me will I dress in today? I flip through endless hung selves in mirrored closet, What does it mean to perform for others? Is the self another? Does the girl I touch from inside count as a swollen head, tracking the movement of her limbs? My limbs. Do I have to belong to anyone? They say beauty is in the eye of the beholder, but what if it’s not beauty but being? We belong to our beholders, to the eyes wandering along scrubbed skin. The eyes that climb the length of our bodies & burn our image in the back of our retinas, just like science class. You- there. The you that is me, the one I see in flipped phone camera, do you see me- some faceless puppeteer? Or is it her you see? Pretty & Confident & Smiling at the lens. The same being regarded by marbles, inlaid in friendly heads. They have seen so many girls. Spent years seeing a teenage basket case and observing an accomplished woman, watching a comic, a sad girl, a girl full of laughs too late at night. Do they mean their words when they purr them to my ego? When we smash our faces together and smile? There is nothing to do but laugh at the other eyes, the yellowed and bloodshot who whistle from mut mouths. Twisting unintelligible words through yelps and howls. They see fresh meat walking- how miraculous- an object they window shop and wish they had the year and money to buy. Even their selves are elusive. A moment changed by the next, but this I know. All staring eyes trace the outline of my back and imagine what lies beneath. Sometimes thin and rumbling ribs, or a heart beating & bleeding fresh and blue, still a lace cage of bone. This I know. I am a woman, shaped by those who see her. Owned by all versions of the truth.
This weekend, the 17th and 18th of September, France hosts the “Journees du Patrimoine.” In Chambery, the celebration of French heritage means that their historical attractions are open and free for the public.
Aside from the buzz of museum patrons and sightseeing families, the town swells with the typical Saturday traffic of its weekly market.
The pedestrian square overflows with vendors of all kinds. Large cheese trucks with flagrant fair, vegetable tables bright with organic orange and local green. Other vans open their doors to hanging meat, and farmers create castle walls from crated chickens. The hens scream through beaked mouths when his rough hands bind their red flailing legs, and I can’t help but cringe away from the sound and sight.
It feels so cruel to shove life into cardboard boxes, even if the strapped and peddled journey leads to a happy home, to a daily life of eggs and stroked feathers. Even if their small life serves infant hands as they are both taught about the circle of life.
It still feels wrong.
Chicks & Chickens
Is there anything worse than life in a box? Strangled semblance of a free-beating heart. The heart still bleeds. Even if you can’t see it. Even if you lock it away. Even if you close your eyes & scream. You will still smell iron, dripping. Metallic nature will lick on your tongue, the veins caught in your teeth. This is the way of life. This is the fate of the delicate & delicate hearted. If you can’t fight & win with bare hand, you are weak. Because words can’t break the force of muscled arms, elbows locked around necks stop the sound from echoing. Words are latent. They slither, poison like Eve’s serpent. Lingering in that empty space between ears & biting after its smart tongue has been severed.
A walk through the loud market brings me to my true objective, the Musee de Beaux-Art de Chambéry.
Entering the former grain hall, its sliding door entrance lacks the awe of the paintings inside. Mounting its three flights of stairs and resting my eyes on painted canvas and wood, I begin to enjoy the quiet beauty of this Savoie art.
The museum houses a small collection of art from the Middle ages to the 20th century, focusing on beautiful renditions of the region’s landscape and religious paintings. The landscapes are soft and understated as the religious works boast gold and violence in their typical fashion.
Among the others, one painting stands out for its subtlety and elegance, despite the hints of violence that lie beneath first glance.
Judith Presentant la Tete d’Holophere Vers Mattia Preti
Draw violent lines into soft curves. Light reflects on faces from imagined source, but the faces are imagined too, and aren’t we all? All our digits & prints just figments of some God’s imagination. Some say life makes no sense without a Him, without their voices singing hymns to Him in the sky. But isn’t that the point of all this? Nothing is meant to make sense, nothing is meant to do anything but live. Isn’t living all the more magical this way? What is living but a waking dream of life? Our dream. Our life. Our violence and our severed heads rolling. Who’s to say that is the end? Perhaps like stars, our souls burst into that same dust of being. Perhaps our faces come home as the earth takes flesh from bone. Isn’t this more magical than heaven? Isn’t nature more righteous? The rivers that chisel rock & the drops that dew our skin are followers of no right or wrong. All they know is stardust. Gravity, the buzz of perpetual motion inside ourselves, the falling and severing of molecules, love & hate stirring between lips & hands is just movement. All the same, as we are. It all gets kinder if we stop straining to know anything for certain. Some things just fall from the sky like rain, all bodies are flooded with dust & some self we named soul, and life just flows, leaving rocks & the rigid behind.
After nearly a year of forgoing caution and letting baggage float away in soft waves, dropping the heaviest from BA passenger planes over the Atlantic, my whirlwind love has been severed. In the following collection, my heart beats in erratic morose code and bleeds fresh and fragrant with the unbridled flood that flows from first real love. Some written at the precipice, the peak, the fall, and all riddled with the fire I felt burning and tied myself to until all that was left was smoke and bone. Here lay the pieces, and I hope you enjoy picking them up.
Waking up without you is like chewing gum instead of brushing your teeth.
it was nothing at first
sat across from me on the patio
nursing a cigarette and
it makes my head spin now but then
I didn’t even notice how much I was paying attention
how much I liked the way his lips tugged and his eyes softened
as he took each drag from his cigarette
5 am, I wake to a rustling.
Hasty hands scrambling in the bunks below.
7 am, I feel salt under my brows,
under my eyelids,
saltwater washes over new bodies.
You, next to me, consumed me
like the waves that stripped us raw.
3 am last night, friends made mistakes
as we played out our own transgressions,
but I feel more than Catholic guilt this morning.
By 9 am, you wake,
we kiss because we’ve kissed before.
When you leave me in bed,
it’s to come back with bottles of water,
the object of my throbbing head’s greatest desire.
10 am is too long
I tell you, I have to go.
11 am sees you cross the abyss,
between dock and deck,
five hours late to meet your friends.
They are there, but not waiting,
at the harbor.
The next 11 greets me above your name.
Your voice streaming tears down the screen–
you meant everything the night before.
I cry too, I don’t know who for,
but a tear falls from my cheek,
as I whisper to you.
I love you too.
never have i been so sure.
i don’t understand how i am sitting here,
a pillar of sparks
lit up by nothing more than the heart that beats inside a boy
a million miles away,
and im not scared.
Not in any real way.
I am terrified,
of the feelings i have and the daydreams that circle my mind.
I am frightened,
By the way, my heart jumps when i see his name and pounds when i see his face.
But i am not scared.
Not of him. Not of me.
For some strange reason
When i close my eyes- When i think of the reality of him,
I feel safe.
You are everywhere, walking in whispered visions through my mind.
Your name written in mine like we’ve been written together before.
You wear black on black every day like what I wanted all along was simply, you.
You add Amy to the playlist you make me and I cant help the goosebumps that line my skin everywhere
I want you to touch me and
I want you to touch me everywhere.
& you say
I’m written in the chant of your favorite team.
My hair, falling down my shoulders the color that caught your eye.
My nose ring you notice and my lips you want to kiss.
I make you nervous, as you mix your drinks and tell me my spiderman shirt is sexy
& i like that.
I fall through sheets
Silky and soft around my figure
When my name falls from your lips
When your voice touches my ear
With the hint of your touch
Cities of nerve endings erupt
Down my spine, faltering my breath, quivering my skin
I want your hands on my hands and
Your breath in my lungs
Your taste on my tongue, I want the
Yellow sun that lights our skin
to immortalize you in my eyes.
How am i supposed to tell my friends that we screamed i love you.
I love you.
I love you to each other.
I love you between waves.
I love you all night.
Few and far between are the moments of absolute clarity.
Those sparks that illuminate who you have been all along.
Fleeting knowledge- a diary burning quickly in the dark of my heart.
I Fear You Love the Romance of Me.
With your arms, embrace
my shaking corpse and chase
your blazing yearning from my body.
I want this branding kiss on my forehead,
to feel flaming fingertips as you slip,
down my flickering wick
until I can’t belittle the power
of your finger.
I, the instrument you play and tune
With eyes- soft when they strike.
Fingers- careful when they pluck.
You never burn through.
I love the way your rough hands cover me
and I fear
I love the danger of you.
Im trying to bite my tongue
as I sit in a class I’ve outgrown, but
Id rather it be your teeth on my flesh
pressed against my mouth to stop my voice.
Id rather it be your hand on my neck
latching onto my throat,
Than the tight grip of the clock
as it ticks the time between us.
Victorian Love Affair.
his thumb traces my lip like a secret;
the taste sweet and sultry and sleazy.
he glares at me with eyes sharp and piquant.
he bares his teeth to diamonds, greedy.
I am too modest to love with all he desires,
though cold and stuffy in his supposed nature.
our tempers kiss with lips of raging fires.
toeing the line of passionate anger.
with corset tight- taught enough to collapse a lung;
I still see us written in the stars like a zodiac.
rich and pompous with his reckless tongue;
swiftly speaking, the ribbons off my back
and now there is nothing left but him
as we tear each other limb from limb.
Just like the waves rolling over our weightless bodies,
There is a soft peace reflected in your eyes
Your pupils, dilated just enough that I can see
Windows to worlds where we are infinite
always running, but never away
you play me like an instrument
tuning me with your touch
Our footsteps pounding the pavement
keeping tempo as I get lost in colored iris
So much depends upon my smile.
You hold yourself responsible
for any twitch that curls my grin
and for finding peeking pearly whites
under these lips you part as the sea.
So much depends, yet
as with anything holy,
you hate being held responsible
for the tremors
that tremble these same lips apart.
So much depends, so
through silver lens, I hide
from sparkling their presence
upon my cheek.
So much depends, still
I am powerless to hide
holding taught all arrows
behind mute lips.
So much depends for you,
my amenable God, in
seeking my eternal providence.
Taking my silicone path of least resistance,
with white knuckle grip on the short leash that snaps,
upon my smile.
I miss you. I think it is time. Maybe. I think it is.
Confessions, you watch my body and imagine you know my soul.
Never doubt my fondness of your happiness, nor my devotion to my own.
Green- it’s everywhere, surrounding the harsh stone cliffs and lapping at the castle’s feet. Red roofed towers point their sharp skulls through the fog and break the rolling air, cascading across rocked edges.
It is easy to see why this Chateau was the inspiration for Disney’s Sleeping Beauty. Red paneled windows and painted roofs send me instantly to my childhood and the joyous promenade of flags and families at the start of the film.
As if the castle’s appearance wasn’t impressive enough, the structure dates back through 23 generations of the Menthon family. Originally built in the 11th century, the family of Counts continued to expand their construction into the 20th century.
Now operating with plumbing and electricity, part of the Chateau remains the residence of the same family. The other part exists as an exhibit for tourists and locals to travel through time.
To the left of the castle, a little garden of medicinal herbs and spices is cultivated by the grounds keepers. Labeled and manicured just as they would have been through the middle ages.
Animals rest next to the garden, a lamb, some roaming donkeys outside, a pair of chickens, and multiple peacocks occupying the land just before the sprawling vineyard. To this day, the castle’s vineyard produces local wine, though another family oversees the process.
What would have happened if he forgot to kiss me?
And the vines overtook stone with their binding arms,
thorns prickling my hem through the open window
Would I be overgrown?
Would my nails grow long beside my idle limbs,
my hair cascading in knots across the bed and onto the floor?
Would I spill over the edge, and would we be buried,
living but not quite alive?
Would you take me now, as your prize?
Mount my flower on your wall of corpses,
I’ll stay pinned and pretty, I promise.
Forget my string of lovers and
I’ll forget yours, I promise.
Before you call me yours, I will be,
placing your lips on mine, you claim me.
This is how the story goes,
you marry me with silver inlays
and introduce me to pearl’s mother.
Prick your finger on my poison
and it tastes so sweet.
You have me, but we will never have
Absolute serenity, only this hovering peace.
Love close enough to touch but not to grasp;
compelled affection cannot hold with closed fist.
This freedom lies just out of privileged reach.
With a small group, we made our way through the Chateau’s most historic rooms. Starting with a small courtyard, the open air was lined with passageways and balconies above.
The small doorways and petite hallways stood out, reminiscent of the smaller figures that occupied these halls centuries prior. As such, our modern size made it difficult to shuffle from room to room but ultimately allowed us to slow down and appreciate the antique details of the castle.
Reaching the Menthon family’s personal chapel, I took in the intricate medley of stone, wood, and gold. A site of tranquil devotion, the small room holds artifacts and art through multiple centuries. The ornate robes of religious officials are kept behind glass alongside golden chalices and open ancient texts.
Next, we entered the kitchen. Slightly larger than the previous room, it resembled the courtyard with wooden passages forming a triangle of open air.
One oven and one table took most of the kitchen space, with two cavities carved into the floor and covered by thick glass. Filled with ash, the cavities operated as pseudo fridges in the early centuries. Kept cool within the building’s stone, the compartments remain close to freezing year-round.
Though the kitchen’s limited appliances and layout were thoughtfully constructed, its location within the castle was not. Placed on the opposite side of the family’s dining room, the designers remedied this problem by burrowing a service tunnel that allowed servants to propel meals through the walls with a system of pulleys and tracks. I’ve never seen anything like it.
As we ascended the tight, circled stairway, we were led into my favorite room. The library.
Over 12,000 books lined the floor-to-ceiling bookcases, all dating back to before the French Revolution in 1789. I was in complete awe. On a table rested a book of law documents, open to a page signed by King Louis XIV.
Three walls bursting with books were completed by the fourth wall’s wooden mantle, telling the story of St. Bernard of Menthon in eight parts. Thought to be one of the first residents of the Chateau, born in 1008 and passing in 1081, St. Bernard boasts a life of incredible charity and religious devotion.
The legend goes, St. Bernard was engaged to a rich heiress, but knowing that he desired a religious life, his father locked him in his room before the wedding. There, St. Nicholas appeared and instructed him to jump from the window.
Heeding his advice, St. Bernard lept from the open window and was immediately caught and carried to Aosta, Italy, by an angel. There he helped build hospice structures for pilgrims and anachronistically healed patients of the black plague. (The black plague occurred in 1348, 267 years after St. Bernard’s death).
At last, he returned to the family castle, where he was forgiven by all. After, St. Bernard rose to the rank of king in heavenly paradise.
Moving on to the great saloon, one can see St. Bernard’s supposed room and the fateful window just to the left of the room’s grand fireplace.
The center of entertainment and relaxation for the Menthons, this room also charts the family history through portraits and paintings of its members and their various coat of arms. Aside from St. Bernard’s chamber, the great saloon also hosts the room occupied by the Counts of the 19th century and a smaller saloon where many objects of the last century rest.
Moving toward the Countesses’ bedroom, we observed a slightly grander chamber with wall-to-wall tapestries and a rather petite bed. Redecorated in 1820, this room was home to the Countesses of Menthon over the last few centuries.
The bed, slightly arched and small, was built in this way due to superstition at the time. It was thought that lying in a flat position was reserved for the dead and was therefore avoided by the living. Negligibly creepy bed aside, I was impressed by the attention to detail that stuck to every part of the room.
Wooden cabinets were inlaid with gold and mother of pearl, carved intricately with delicate strokes. The tapestries depict scenes of the surrounding nature, and in the corner lies a dress ruffle owned by none other than Marie Antoinette.
The grand finale came with the pilgrim’s room. An expansive said to house those who journeyed far to see the site of St. Bernard.
Equipped with a small oven, religious paintings, a long table set, and ancient arms, this room maintains a communal feel that has no doubt extended through the ages. Helmets above the mantel date back to before the 9th century and the construction of the castle itself.
Exiting the Chateau, I remained in awe. The sheer beauty and integrity of the castle rival anything I could possibly imagine in America.
Guarded & Silent.
Stone cage & Gold chain.
This is how you find me.
Make me home.
Clean my bones & Paint me pretty again.
Carve your crest into my arms.
Cover me in quilts & Stamp my hands with new ink.
This way, I’ll never really change.
Grow gray & Sag skin.
But all I need is polish.
Bury yourself & I’ll take care of the rest.
Your body a bulb
I will surround with water.
What a beautiful history
you can have with me.
My limbs may fall
but what do I care?
They’ll be mended in next bulb’s bloom.
More parties & calamities will ricochet inside me,