Tag Archives: life

Can You Love Me?

~Esther Mitchell, 2016~

“Can you love me as I am?”
Asked the snowflake of the sun.

“I’ll only love you as the water,
I can make a gas, like me,”
Replied the sun,
And destroyed the snowflake’s fragile beauty,
And everything that made her unique.

“Can you love me as I am?”
Asked the sapling of the storm.
“Nourish me and help me grow,
To be a tree, strong and true to who I am?”

“No,” boomed the storm,
“I’ll only accept you if you grow,
The direction I demand.”

Then the storm sent wind and lightning,
To break the sapling’s spirit,
And bend its will with fiercest threat.

“Can you love me as I am?”
Whispered a tiny voice in the night,
As tiny feet crept to the edge of a bed,
Asking for a trust that should never be earned.
“No matter what or who I turn out to be,
Can you always accept and love be,
For no reason but that I’m me?”

Be careful with that fragile trust,
And how you answer back,
For while words forever carry a mark,
It’s what you do that tells the story,
of the person you really are.

father-giving-hand-to-a-child-by-david-castillo-dominici

Image courtesy of David Castillo Dominici

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“Let It Go”

~Esther Mitchell, 2014~

You told me today,
That I just need to calm down,
That it’s not that bad,
That I should just let it go.
I smiled, and nodded, and walked away.
But what I wanted to ask you,
Was if you’d seen the leash I’m holding,
The door I’ve barricaded with my body,
To save you from the demons that push against the other side,
If I let go of this leash,
I unleash something I cannot control,
Its ravenous appetite never satisfied,
Until it pulls the last precious drop of my blood, of life,
From the hollow shell of my soul,
If I step away from the door,
Peel my body from this lock,
Rest my vigilance for even a breath,
I unleash a hell I cannot push back again,
I am Pandora before the box,
Untempted, because I already know the pestilence inside,
There isn’t any hope in my box,
My only hope rests in keeping it firmly closed,
And so I made my body the only key,
My throat sewn shut around the magic words,
That I could keep the demons from escaping.
You tell me I should pray about it,
But there’s no prayer that stays this battle,
No God capable of turning back this horde,
Your God abandoned me when this Hell was created,
My pleas echoed off your god’s deaf ears like bullets off Kevlar,
Until I was deafened to the sound of prayer,
Each word from your lips an artillery round,
Blowing open more places for the demons to come in,
More hollows where the words whispered in the night,
Until they were all I could hear, telling me to take the pills,
To use the knife,
To go back to the beginning, to fill my lungs with the water,
As they were that day.
You tell me to think positive,
That this, too, shall pass.
While you’re drowning me in your mantras,
You know nothing of what I face.
I am neither positively or negatively charged.
I am a lightning bolt,
A pounding pulse of electricity that lights up the night,
Fills the sky, takes it over, burns the ground where I walk,
And I am the night, the humming darkness before a storm,
The momentary tingle on your scalp, your tongue,
Just before my fire splits the sky.
I learned this when my world split in two,
Gained the ability to be invisible,
When it became too difficult for you to see me,
Charged the cloak of my own night,
With enough electricity to light the world,
Because the only way to drive my demons back,
Was to be something they feared more than I feared them.
I am the Gates of Babylon,
The portals through which heroes prostrate to pass,
My voice the guardian of secrets that bring kings to their knees,
My body a sacrament defiled to the roar of waves that sink kingdoms and empires.
Do not dare to tell me who, or what, shall pass through me,
Because you do not know the canals carved into my face,
By the rivers of tears you never saw, never stemmed.
You have not navigated the River Styx within my soul,
The murky water none can cross without my permission,
My tongue the ferryman, hand outstretched.
You haven’t the coin to unlock my secrets,
Because you don’t know what it means,
To cut out your own tongue,
To spare others from the demons who howl,
On the other side of my abyss.
You told me today,
To let it go, to just move on,
Because you have no idea,
The monsters I keep at bay.

Flames

“The Writer’s Rebellion”

~Esther Mitchell, 2013~

They tell me to write what I know,
Then they tell me I don’t know anything.
Five degrees worth of education later,
Summers spent clawing my way through the stacks,
Winters spent with my head buried in calculus,
History, mythology, and organic chemistry,
Up to my elbows in anatomy, physics, and psychology,
Year after year of testing and study and more testing,
And still they look at me,
Shake their heads as if with pity,
And tell me I know nothing.
Nothing.
As if a lifetime of being bloodied,
Of nights awakening awash in sweat and terror,
Of days spent reminding myself,
“Don’t shrink,”
“You are beautiful,”
“No, don’t shrink,”
“You can do this,”
Count for nothing at all.
As if the hours spent pouring myself out of a book,
Of finding myself in statistics,
To prove I could survive,
Of weeks spent building the walls of my mind,
Compartment by compartment,
Some to hold information in,
Some to hold the world out,
And some just to seal away the pain,
All of that was for nothing,
When they look at me,
Shake their heads,
And tell me I know nothing,
Only they are right,
Only they know what’s best,
Only they have the answer.
But not a single one of them,
Has ever lived inside my Hell,
Walked the shrapnel-strewn paths of my life,
Through jungles thick with terrors they can’t even dream.
Not one of them has built themselves up from the rubble,
Of a life disintegrated in one blast,
Over and over and over again,
Until the rubble resembles sand more than stone,
And all that remains worth having,
Rests in mind, and heart, and bone.

“Surviving the Monster”

~Esther Mitchell, 2014~

They tell you children are color-blind,
That they don’t see race until they’re taught.

When I was six years old,
I learned to fear white men,
To see a monster in every face,
The product of terror and pain,
Soul bled out, invisible,
Torn from me amidst savage words,
Burned forever into memory,
A litany of demonic voices trapped within my head.
It took a white man to show me,
There was nothing to fear,
That I was stronger than that pain,
That not all white men are monsters.

When I was eight years old,
I learned to fear black men,
At the hands of a black man with power over me,
Who tore my lungs from my chest,
Because I already could not breathe,
Who flayed me with the very Elements,
An icy knife that slashed my body in two,
Until my vision faded, my knees weakened,
And I could not run any more.
It took a black man to teach me there was nothing to fear,
Who saw my terror, and spoke to it,
Gently told me there was no reason left to run,
And gave me back the power of my own lungs.

I was a child who learned to fear everything male,
To shrink away from any touch,
To close my eyes and pretend they might all go away,
For fear the next time, I might not survive.
Until one man showed me I was the one with the power,
To bring a man to his knees,
And to lift him up so he could fly.
And in realizing all that I am,
I realized all that I am not.
I am not a victim unless I choose to be,
I am not blind, deaf, or mute,
Unless I choose to let myself be led.
Violence and ignorance are identical,
No matter the color they wear upon their skin,
And if you’re looking for the monster,
The first place to look is deep within.

“Mortal Eyes”

~Esther Mitchell, 1988 ~

Mortal lips have never told,

what mortal eyes do behold,

but mortal hands and mortal works,

is where Eternity’s power lurks.

Immortality can never know,

what wealth passing on may sow,

Never imagined are such things,

by those who, of Eternity, sing.

The briefest glimpse, as fragile life knows,

allows imagination to open the rose,

The sweetest lines are always made,

by those only briefly in Life’s shade.

No care do immortals have of creating,

for they will never feel breath bating,

and they have no desire to make,

for they do not have to cling to life or break.

No, they do not see even a glimmer,

of what, to mortals, shimmers,

for theirs is not an ending dance,

and they have no regret of lost chances.

“Whisper”

~ Esther Mitchell , 2008~

When you’re gone from my life,

I’ll miss you until you return,

The hole will be hollow,

When you’re gone from my life.

 

When I’m gone from your life,

You’ll miss me for moments,

At times you might pause,

A vague memory tugging at you,

Wondering what’s gone from your life.

 

When you’re gone from my life,

the light’s a little dimmer,

the wind a little colder,

and I’ll always recall you,

and that you’ve gone from my life.

 

When I’m gone from your life,

There’ll be but a faint glimmer,

A dusting of memory, like a fairy wing’s shimmer,

Then you’ll forget,

I was ever once in your life.

 

It’s not that you’re colder,

It’s not that you’re wrong,

It’s that my purpose is to teach,

And then, like a whisper, be gone.