(This was the prompt…)
“What would you tell young friends who are afraid?” what I want to say is that the night sweats happen and then they are gone, the same nightmare appears for years and then its terrifying physics and grammar begin to transform around the dreaming you: suddenly you can pseak, you can move, you can run, you can say, now, No when before the word could only push from your lips into a screaming wait that woke you and your lover at midnight.
You see from those dreamtime changes that you are healing, your seams are coming together and it’s a slow, it’s an interminable process it will seem like it’s never ending and it ought to. Feel every minute of it, let the loss and terror burn through and be done with you. Someday it will be done with you, because you stayed with It, because you were not thrown by the fire and rage that you yourself contain.
This is a terrible thing that I’m recommending, I know.
Write it all down, all of it, even the stuff you know can’t be testified to in a court of law but that sits still on your tongue to be spoken: better to spit out the lies they fed you onto the page rather than swallow them. Now and again you can flip back through your record, see, read, how you have changed in two weeks, two months, 10 years. Build a bridge to your whole unsullied soul, still locked safe inside you, with those words. Write out all your complications and conflicts, the ways you are always in conflict, the jealousies and inconsistencies and fears. Don’t show it to anybody. These are the places we have.
Be more afraid of finding out what loss looks like from the inside out, be more afraid of losing the ability to write before you have recorded all that you are. This is you creating your own rabbit trail. Hansel and Gretel aren’t throwing down any bread crumbs or stones for us. We write our own Wonder Woman, Batman, Savior – we write ourselves ahead when we say right now what’s true. It’s the only lily-pad-hopping way forward I know. Settle into this skin of confusion with your pen in hand. Stitch away time out of your day just for writing. Let the words be the only think you hold.
And then feed yourself well. Visit the doctor or NP now and again. Call the good friends, the ones who leave you alone when you’re writing, the ones who don’t try to fix it when you cry, and see if they want to go to the beach with you. Put down the pen and pack up a lunch, get on the 5-Fulton without a book and watch through the bus’ grimy windows as the grey concrete of the city give way to the contagious riot of green in the park . Get out at the last stop and walk yourself into a thick salty sea breeze. Feed the tides your bare feet, take your friend’s dry warm hand, hold the seagull’s cries into your newfound ears.