from the moment we were born we knew we belonged on this earth/we breathed the air though nobody showed us how/filled our lungs with it and raised our clenched fists into the sky above us/knowing we can reach for more, screaming like we were born to be heard,
“Stop that,” I said. “That’s mine, you have no right to read it.”
The man paused, and I thought he’d stop, but he only flipped his fingers through more pages and began to read again.
know your tears aren’t for nothing/let them fall to the earth/to water the seeds/that will grow the roots/to anchor the trees/that cannot be moved./know that you, too,/cannot be moved.
I sat up. At this angle, the world felt new, like I was trying to orient myself to the gravity pulls of an alien planet. But I had enough balance to reach up and snatch my notebook back. So I did. I pulled my knees to my chest, my words tucked into the folds of my body.
“Why aren’t you celebrating?” the man asked, gesturing toward the group of people waving flags and howling with glee. “You know that motherfucker’s dead, right?”
“I’m tired,” I said.
Now he gestured toward my notebook, and I tightened my hold on it.
“Then why aren’t you writing about it?”
“I’m resting,” I told him.
I rubbed my eyes, hoping he’d be gone when I opened them, so I could sleep again. Instead, I heard his voice once more. More of my words.
there never were words for this…
In an instant, I was standing, my face so close to his that I could smell the breath of his pores. He smelled salty as the sea.
“Where did you get that?” I said. “That’s not even in this notebook. Nobody’s supposed to read that.”
The man smiled, stepped back with a sheepish look like he knew he’d taken one step too far. I looked him up and down, noticed for the first time that he looked nothing like the people who were out celebrating. He was barefoot, and dirty, his skin stained with a red, earthy tinge. He carried nothing, but looked somehow like he’d been traveling.
“You’re right,” he said. “Nobody’s supposed to read it yet, anyway.”
He gazed beyond my head, as if he was looking to see where he’d go next. Or where I’d been before.
“Rest well, weary poet,” he said. “But don’t lose your words. You’ll need them now, more than ever before.”
As I watched him walk away, his feet shuffling through the growing grass, that poem bloomed in my mind. The one I’d been putting together in my head, but resisting the urge to write down.
there never were words for this… the poem began. I settled back down into the grass, and began to write the rest of the words.