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Everything is bright now,
everything is well lit
and there’s plenty of room
for the eyes to maneuver
and the heart to understand,

but I’ve seen darkness,
I had once embraced it
and kissed its fangs,
I have entered it
(or it has entered me),
traversed its moldy alleys
where there is only enough
passage for one weak spirit
and all her favorite sins.

Back in the years when
apostasy was religion
and cynicism was cooler
than mercy
there was no love to save me,
there was only me
and an ambiguous taste
of redemption that
hummed inside me
underneath the layers of wrong
like unearthed diamonds
and a danger, a tangle of thorns
and no promise
that if I started down
that road,
I would finish it.

I forewent innocence
for knowing.
Oh, but they told me
I might go to hell for that.
There were questions
whose poison lay
in being asked,
but I gathered them to me
like an inheritance
and trod the opacity of night
with them strapped to my back
like arrows in a quiver
that could easily betray me.
(Even now, with the answers
in my arsenal protecting
my triumph, I guard
those questions from falling
into the hands of those
who may not be built
to survive the asking.)

My only weakness
was my only strength
and my final rescue:
my blind hunger and faith
in beauty,
a propensity for intoxication
in witnessing the brilliance
of fellow tortured beings,
pushing our history
ever forward through time.

* * *

And there, now,
the things you have heard
and think you know about me
are chapters of my soul
and I never really said
that I came out unscathed.
But I am stronger than you think,
and my scars,
even when most of the time
I ignore them,
are my everything.

untitled photo by photographer Nadine G.


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