As silly as it sounds, I have always felt that water is my element.
Water can carve its way, even through stone.
And when trapped, water makes a new path.
My name means “white wave.” This suits me.
I’ve never really had a sense of “home,” but rather, I’ve trickled my way through the world and traveled over its oceans. Despite my best efforts at stoicism, I am an emotional young woman, coming and going with every high and low of the tide.
“…is it the sea you hear in me? Its dissatisfactions?”
Rumbling with my rolling discontent and breaking upon the shore, I’ve beat my fist on the ground to no prevail. Erosion takes a millennium. I wander back out with the tide, helplessly in the undertow of life, which is too large for me to comprehend. None of my tears will water down this vast expanse within which I am suspended and tossed about; the sea has always been salt.
But I do not want the lessons of driftwood. What a horrid name!
To drift: –verb (used without object)
to be carried along by currents of water or air, or by the force of circumstances.
to wander aimlessly.
to be driven into heaps, as by the wind: drifting sand.
to deviate or vary from a set course or adjustment.
There are times when I am tumbled under choppy breakers.
Yet those from the shoreline might glimpse my frame and see flexibility and freedom, a lithe, young soul unrestrained and blending in with her surroundings elegantly, dancing with graceful arcs of the back, smoothly going with the flow. Perhaps the universe looks down from omniscient heights and sees the rough and jagged edges of a hardened, frightened soul giving way to the beauty of soft, rounded curves which shine with the glossy polish of refinement.
So I am a stone
rough and grainy still.
Trying to reconcile this river’s chill.
But when I close my eyes
and feel it rushing by
I know that time brings change
and change takes time.
And the when the sunset comes
my hope would be this one:
that you might pick me up and notice that I am
just a little smoother in your hand.
And while I whelm in gulfs far over my head and long to be unmovable, I have lost not only my breath but my perspective.
I look inward too often rather than looking up and around and off into the distance.
My inner reflections must lead me back out to face the world with wide eyes and open arms or else they are useless. I want my vision to be clear and unclouded by waterlogged emotions.
Perhaps it’s the human condition to feel that we float aimlessly on the current. Is there a some way to drift purposefully? Could there be a balance in that no matter where we may alight, whatever shore we may wash up on, there are people there to be with and lessons to be learned?
Could it be that as we busy ourselves with the bonding of hearts and the balming of wounds, we will be taken out of the depths of raging seas and no longer be submerged in darkness?
I doubt it… but I hope so.
Maybe that’s all I need.
This little experiment in sound appeared this morning. Rhyme. Rhythm. Syllables. Consonance. Assonance. Alliteration. Brevity.
It’s probably best if you read this aloud…just a suggestion.
I miss so many moments
and my meager mind is
reeling from the feeling
that my life is mediocre
at its best.
I try to catch time carefully
and keep it under lock and key
collecting and reflecting
but the clock is quickly ticking
Words fumble for a foothold
but they stumble on my tongue.
dripping wet and slipping
I lose my equilibrium
I remember back in the ’90s when the Spice Girls proudly cheered girl power to the world. It was a fun exhortation albeit a little cheesy.
By sheer coincidence, I was born in a country where I can wear what I want, study what I want, and become anything I want. As a child, I never had to risk my life, demanding a divorce from a man forty years my senior. I never had to worry about my genitals being mutilated. Being able to vote, to drive, and to read were never privileges in my mind, but just minor facets of a perfectly average life.
Thankfully the same is true in many nations around the world.
So why do we even need to promote that concept in modern, first world countries anymore?
Misogyny is still pervasive in the world today. Even girls growing up free of political or religious persecution face a barrage of sexist language and imagery every day. The sources are often quite innocuous: good friends and favorite TV shows.
Now, I KNOW that not all men are sexist. I don’t think women are better than men or that we don’t need them around.
(Quite the opposite… I like guys… a lot. I’m a big fan.)
Nor do I mean to imply that women are perfect beings. Many stereotypes of catty, competitive, cold-hearted girls are true. (Bottom line: people can be hurtful, no matter who they are.)
But misogyny has long been active throughout human history and it seems sexist language has embedded itself into social norms. Even the most loving husbands, brothers, and friends often unintentionally further derogatory sentiments about women.
“You’re only popular/successful/celebrated because you’re a girl.”
“It’s so much easier for you because you’re a girl.”
I hate hearing things like that.
I am NOT trying to purport that a woman’s rise in any particular area is wholly without a little padding (from an often salivating male audience). I’ve seen it happen and I’m not one to ignore facts.
But for women, it seems our personhood is still permanently attached to our sex. Our value is still attributed to physical appearance more than anything else. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve heard men complain about a women’s success. They try either to undermine it or excuse it away entirely by claiming it originated from nothing more than sexual allure or pure, dumb luck.
The problem lies in the implications of the language. In such statements, there is a tone of accusation and blame and the women is the recipient. Attempting to illegitimize a woman’s achievements simply because she is a woman is absurd. Any way you look at it, it’s sexist. Saying such things proposes the notion that a woman can’t offer anything of interest or value other than her face, or breasts. No one can choose their genetic make-up. No one can choose to be born a girl. It is entirely unreasonable to lay blame upon someone for their sex.
Furthermore, it suggests that even if a woman does (miraculously) have something of value to contribute, no one will actually take it into account because they will be too focused on her appearance. Sadly, I think we can all agree that this does happen far too often. But again, how is it right to blame the woman? That problem lies with the men who make this situation a reality with their puerile behavior, which entirely lacks self-control and dignity.
I understand that sex sells. Indeed, many times women have chosen to market their appearance and sexuality. People should be free to do as they please. Men and women alike play into these roles and willingly objectify themselves. But how often do you hear men complaining that another man is successful only because of his looks? I’m sure it does happen, but the fact that it is so much more rare is very telling.
These kind of comments are hurtful and incredibly backwards. Not only do they offend the woman in question, who is made to feel guilty about her own appearance, but it affects other women in the process. It implies that any woman who encounters setbacks and failures, or simply has a slower time achieving her goals, is not womanly enough to attract a group of admiring supporters. This does nothing but create dissention and rivalry between women.
We should be building up a generation of girls to be confident and intelligent and creative.
This was written for a friend of mine who tried to delete herself from existence.
My response to her came from Sylvia Plath:
I know the bottom, she says. I know it with my great tap root;
It is what you fear.
I do not fear it: I have been there.
And then I wrote this for her. (But Plath was much better.)
I am cold.
I am quiet.
I am confused.
I am not very calm at the moment.
I’m entirely too exhausted, exasperated
to be anything other than exanimate.
You and me
are too similar to have this distance between us.
My heart is breaking
through the isolation,
the walls of the silence
inching higher and higher and higher.
The separation of your heart
is coming to ends in uneven edges
and crooked corners.
None of the cuts are clean.
The only constant are the trailing tears
in the quiet
And none of us can be very calm at the moment.
I’m an idiot
and so are you.
I do not want to temper my speech with grace.
Do you think you can understand that?
Do you think your God can?
I think it’s a fundamental…
I think it’s innate…
I think it’s human instinct…
this whole giving up thing.
And yet we’re not allowed to.
It’s boldly bellowed
from the selfish,
from the frightened,
from the “Divine.”
I am sick of wordiness
I do not want to fight.
I do not want to forgive.
I do not want to feel.
I miss sleep like the touch of a lover.
I want to fall into a dark seclusion
away from the cold,
the quiet and confusion.
I want it to be calm.
I want to sleep and not be woken
for the ten thousandth time.
I hate to be jarred.
And I wonder if you’ll ever stop shaking.
And I need to know if those criticisms of yours will ever wane away.
But we’re still not allowed to give up.
No. No. NO!
I can’t help but wonder if they know what it’s like to be cold,
to hear the loneliness of the great quiet,
to buckle under such confusion…
and to be told to calm down.
I don’t think so.
Because if they did,
they’d be scared shitless,
just like me.
A private, raw poem that I figured I needed to finally share (a slightly older piece). How else can I ever become a writer if I don’t allow my most honest words to be seen by others? I need to stop being so afraid.
The mixture of you two:
one part love
in exchange for
one part lust.
I am nothing more than
a convoluted coupling,
a curious coil
of chromosomes and cells.
You labored for me
twenty one hours long
and haven’t given me
a minute more since.
Perhaps I broke your soul
when I broke your water.
Perhaps I stole everything out from inside you,
leaving you barren and bitter.
For years I tried to finger paint
any resemblance between us.
But our coloring and cheekbones
are as different as the contours of our hearts.
I have languished under your gender all my life.
I do not understand your womanly ways.
You still turn heads at fifty-nine
and I am overlooked at twenty-five.
But now I too am laboring with child.
I call her Forgiveness.
I hate her as much as you hate me
and Mother, I fear abandonment will be our only bond.
Years before I was allowed to circle the block on my bike, I was trekking through jungles with Kipling, battling pirates with Stevenson, and interpreting runes with Tolkien. The written word is my favorite art form. Language is organic and full of life; it breathes meaning into objects and communicates thoughts from being to being. Indeed, books can lead us down many a rabbit hole, safely, comfortably within our rooms. However, I have never been satisfied with comfort. I want to meet these characters and see these places closely. The imaginary friendships of youth have now melted into relationships equally as diverse and expontentially more statisfying. Ana Rosa, the Mexican school nurse, Wilhem the South African sheep farmer, and Saharu the Japanese speed skater are as engaging and fascinating as Baloo the Bear, Blackbeard the pirate, and Bilbo Baggings the hobbit. Having the ability to speak to them is a privelege. Communication is the key to exploration.
The world, in all its vastness, is seemingly shrinking. Technology has made the most remote Amazonian tribes accesible to those in the concrete jungle. Online translation and video chat is changing the way one communicates with the rest of the world. The concept of a global community is certainly becoming tangible. Despite the instantaneous connections being made, there are still gaping holes in our understanding of each other. Offense and hatred erupt every day with violent repercussions. Again, communication is the key to building bridges, joining the opposing sides from across the chasms of misunderstanding. This is my lifelong pursuit. My study of language may not heal the world, though it will lead me into a lifestyle of dialogue with strangers. Once one is able to express and receive meaning, strangers have the ability to transform into friends. Building community is not a simple task but it is where I shall endeavor, and find it the most worthwhile, to expend my energy.
This is my lastest piece of poetry employing the metaphor of Japanese penmanship in which one must write kanji (Japanese characters) in a certain stroke order while attempting to acheive proper balance and shape. This technique is written with brush and ink. It has become my hobby and I found many similarities between the art and my life.
習字 (Shuuji) – Penmanship
Like the words I read here everyday,
you are the kanji of my heart.
Every part of you is compartmentalized
on the paper in my memory.
I arrange your idiosyncrasies
and your features
in the proper order.
Up to down.
Left to right.
I recognize your shape.
I vaguely recall your meaning.
But pronunciation escapes my grasp.
Reproduction is beyond my ability.
I speak you daily
but my nuance is slightly off.
My innate instinct for expression is
six thousand eight hundred and four miles away.
In a town where I am unknown
I miss communication.
I look at your face and still see
all the lines of familiarity.
I brush them out.
In perfect balance
and stroke order.
Up to down.
Left to right.
I practice you
over and over,
moving in symmetry and precision.
You have been created to perfection.
Mounted and framed
behind transparent protection
as fragile as our hearts.
You will never change
within my memory
or behind glass.
Displayed for all to see
you garner the praise so deserving you.
I clean my brush.
I fold up my heart
containing all the scraps of
practice and conversation,
the mistakes and the memories.
No one knows the effort or the order
except for me.
Up to down
left to right.