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Bravery is simpler
in solitude,
when there is only
myself to save
as the walls close in,
and no one else
to bear the burden
of paying my debts and
living with my mistakes.
I can crash and burn
as many times as
my reasons bring it
on themselves,
betray myself my own
weaknesses occasionally,
make decisions on the fly
with the courage
afforded me by a daring
devoid of sacrifice.
And when impunity names
the too-high price
of surrender,
my defiance rises, if only
emboldened, and comforted,
by the thought that
consequence only has me
to deal its blows.
All the things I could lose,
I did without, details
of the sense of missing
lost by having no one
to tell them to.
Cold only on my skin.
Blood only from my wounds.
Dishonor only to my name.
I rewrite my heart
and contract the words
to bend pains that are
all mine to endure.
I can pretend some
of them never happened.
I can pretend that
their ends were swift.
I can pretend away the
lingering. Roughness
to which I am accustomed,
uncertainty with which
I am at home: I’d walk
a little way around it,
look at it from
a different angle and
call it beautiful.

But I’d always needed that,
something real
to rest my head on.
A gentle breathing
to listen for
in the desperate
moments before dawn.
That would be better
than any victory.
That would be worth
all those forgone silences
that my spirit can’t
be compelled to keep.
And life can hurt
as much as it will;

you are here.
I had tried to protect you
from everything that
could go wrong and
fall apart in my hands.
But you are stronger than me.
Strong enough
to not pull me to a safety
I do not subscribe to,
but just stand still,
beside me,
at the far, far edge,
your hand where my faith is.
That is everything.

“Griffith Observatory Engagement | Aaron & Nicole”
by photographers Lin & Jirsa


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