Staying Awake; a letter

I know I don't usually send things this way,
but I wanted to tell you;

I think there is life
in the moments when pensive thoughts
seep through the walls
and neither of us can answer each other's questions.
There is life
in your voice when you say
that maybe dying
would help them see you,
and in mine,
when I ask what dying is
and how it could make
someone shine
brighter
than life can,
or love can,
or these moments
can
when I really do love you,
really.

When you were eleven, you wanted to travel--
you wanted to be light,
to light the places that hadn't
met you yet,
color the world the way your colored your classroom.
You wanted to cross the bridge that spanned the Hudson
and grow under new lights
that didn't yet smell of home,
new lights
to keep out the sadness that slept in your mind,
let it sleep
just a little bit longer.

One day, the blue walls of your classroom
folded in
and you met a girl whose heart had broken.
You had never seen a broken
heart before.
You asked if you could hold her heart,
maybe,
hoping you could warm it,
maybe,
or befriend it
or just keep it company
so it would stay around.
It didn't stay
and suddenly you stood in a hospital room
your eleven years buried
in her twelve.
When your fear of the dark swelled like a fever
the world became too big to explore.

I met you when you had almost healed,
when I reminded you
of that broken heart you had loved.
You used to wonder if I would leave too,
if one day, my shadow would swallow me
frame folding in
like a shrinking moon
waning before you could grow
to know me.
When you asked if I knew I was disappearing,
I said I would always want life.

I met you when eleven was a faraway dream
and your sad eyes
looked for sun to clothe them.
I met you when you would break
every day,
breaking and healing
breaking and falling
into the arms of people who loved you--
one day,
I found I was holding you.

And I think there is life
in the way we have survived,
the way you haven't left--
haven't let go of home
and have given me a home, too.
I hear brightness shine
in your voice
when we drive on warm evenings
through a sunlit city
with the sky's summer fire
painting freckles
on your face through the windshield.

And I think that
even though
the world grew
and you grew up
and we each have been lost
before,
there is life in your darkness
and in mine.
When our beings are bright
hurting and living,
feeling deeply enough,
to wonder about sleep while staying awake,
there is light in the way we keep breathing,
Still looking for
life
inside stillness,
home
in our questions,
a winged bird
in an empty sky,
and the lilting brightness of every past morning,
still gleaming in this moment,

here.

 

This poem is about: 
Me
My community

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