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I feel my past slipping from my grasp,
its silken tangle of vested rhetoric bound
to revolving identities, life-like characters
in stories tattooed on consciousness
like beauty’s other skin, rhymes and reasons
and bliss chased and given up on,
joys worn threadbare and braveries
painted on like Kabuki masks coming off
and littering the roadside.

How long did it take for these tulips
and brick buildings to cease being foreign
and become commonplace, for the symbols and
coveted currencies of home to change hands?
The places and hearts I once occupied
now billow in the wind behind me,
their threads inconsequential
like evanescent flames of color
against the more easily understood majesty
of a sunset and its captive audience.
I used to wear them to my battles
like trusted armor. Now they threaten
to let go of me unless I let go of them first.

Was it the questions I taught the children
to ask and hold just as sacred as the answers
that they have outgrown?
Was it my soul sisters and my blood brothers,
who referred to my addictions by name
and could tell by the bruising around my words
if a wound was self-inflicted, the handprints
I’ve left on their lives rubbed away by time
and the harsh elements of absence?
Was it my old stomping grounds, now deserted,
no longer remembering the sound of my voice
and the moments I’ve hung like dreamcatchers
on the trees?

I carried them with me when I left.
Bright corals of blue and red and teeming with life.
I turned my back a mere chapter and a half
and they have been blanched and ground
as fine as sand by the tides I watched rise,
so mesmerized by their timelessness and power
that it didn’t occur to me to wonder what they
might do to my harbored treasures.
And now all the women I used to be
fall from the spaces between my fingers,
weightless, disconnected, the color of naked skin.

“Fairy” by photographer Adam Voss


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