the way home.

We were squished together like sardines

in a dark blue hallway,

the linoleum lights giving a warm and tired glow

on our sweaty and tired faces.

Tiny feet beat down on the ground

causing the ringing of drums to spiral

down that black blue hallway.

Then there was me—

tall and wearing too many layers for fall,

straight hair pulled too tightly back in a ponytail,

my tiny fist clinging to my shiny black box of plastic

with the only numbers inside being my mother’s and the house.

 

When the bell rang, the children sprang free

from the confines of the brick school house,

grubby hands pushing and shoving,

tiny feet drumming on pavement

until they hit the grass and took off

running across the hills toward wired fencing.

We all sang when we crossed the wired fence,

our feet slowing to a walk

until our hands found our silver door knobs

and we were finally home.

 

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Polaroid Memory

The following I wrote in an effort to find sleep after finishing Anne Lamott’s Bird by Bird. In the first few chapters she suggests writing of childhood. Since I am still a child, I have years of material to pull clearly from. I had taken a trip to France the summer before freshman year and stayed for eight weeks. During one of those weeks My cousin brought me along to a church camp in Switzerland.


It wasn’t cold, surprisingly. Summer by the snowy mountainside had granted the privilege of soft, cool humidity, making the team task of dish washing less insufferable. We had eaten our lunches before anyone had come into the lunch hall, entering into a makeshift boiler room where all the dirty dishes were held. A sweet older Swiss woman greeted us, assigning us to different stations (one of which I can no longer recall but I imagine had something to do with organizing). I was given the duty of washing and drying whatever dishes came by. I kept my mouth shut while the rest of my team joked around with each other while completing our task, a flood of dirty dishes descending down their miniature elevator in quick increments.  I hadn’t spoken for so long that I began to feel my throat swell up permanently until the older woman turned to me and asked my name.

“Kirsten,” I said affirmatively, my shoulders instinctively rolling back with pride. Her face broke out into the widest and most cherub like of smiles.

“What a wonderful name! My nephews name is Kirst.” The name is male supposedly, and I had never heard anything like it. She began gushing over her dear nephew in a way I couldn’t help but smile at because she’d been the second person in my three months of solitude that my name and presence had provided pure joy to.

The other person had been a month before during another forced camping trip. His name was Adrien, mixed Danish and African and the eye of my cousin’s affections. I would tease Edna about him constantly, but I wholly understood her infatuation—hazel eyes, smooth skin, and a devilishly kind smile. He spoke fluent English—he was one of the few campers that did—so he felt like a saving grace. His only flaw was that he smoked weed the way Mafia gangsters smoked cigars and it had been causing a rift in his family as of late. 

At the introduction of my name he had told me that my name was danish (I was already perfectly aware of its Germanic nature but I ate up the compliment ravenously) which he loved because he was danish. I shot an onslaught of questions about his background, all of which slip my mind now, before he was pulled away into a rugby game. The ball was blue and white and rubbery and I was wholly confused by the sight of it. They ran across the wide, open clearing tossing the ball back and forth, offering now and again for me to join for me to decline and quickly retreat to the side away from the commotion. My eyes remained on Adrien still. We’d bonded so quickly over so little, I couldn’t help but want to kiss him as a form of compassion, of thank you, of a possibility of the romanticized future of summertime romance that has never been in reach.

the utmost kindness

His jaw slacks ever so slightly

as his laugh echoes around the chambers of my heart,

the ripples cascading down my veins,

Soaking up the oxygen in my blood until I am light and weak again.

 

Do I love you yet?

I can’t help the way the stars reflect so clearly within my eyes now,

and I wonder how he became the cure to the ailment that plagues being human.

 

I want to hide in between the hollow ridges of his rib cage

easing his breath,

matching it with mine as I slowly grow to be with him,

welding my soul onto his:

Intertwined.

 

He brought me flowers,

their petals wet from morning dew and the deep smell of pasture.

And he’s beginning to try so hard

and I watch as the stress begins to pull lines across his face.

 

Do you love me yet?

You can’t help the way that valleys form themselves across your cheeks,

and you wonder if you had ever really laughed in your entire life.

 

You told me three days prior

that you wish you could live in my head,

sorting away the thoughts that haunt me hours before I can rest.

 

And I told you

that I have never known such kindness.

Daring to be desired

In Call Me By Your Name, a film directed by Luca Guadagnino, there’s scene in which two of the main characters—Elio’s father, Professor Perlman, a historian and Oliver, an American working with Professor Perlman for his thesis—look through pictures sent to them of ancient Romanesque statues. The statues are mainly of men, each hold a certain ambiguous curvature to them, inspiring Professor Perlman to comment that it’s “as if they’re daring you to desire them.”

I’m enamored with that phrase: daring to be desired. It speaks of an unspoken beauty, one built on alluring instead of catering, an inarguable elegance to the whole affair. Confusing but understood. The only thing I’ve thought to myself since is how wonderful it would be to be so captivating.

I consider myself beautiful. I try not to argue with the fact too much, since there are plenty of other things for me to gripe about. I especially like to think of my hair as my best feature, because my hair is truly the only medium I can truly become whatever I decide I want to be at that moment.

I’ve never been at odds with the coils on my head. Being black and female, there’s a history that comes with my hair, especially since it’s natural and I find that the history makes my hair seem more beautiful than it objectively is. Older black women adore it, for it makes them warm inside to know that little black girls like me don’t face as much scrutiny for the curls atop our heads as they may have when they were younger. White people find my hair to be this amazing attraction, a shapeshifting essence just full of small surprises.

I don’t mind at all. I’ve always enjoyed the reactions, the compliments, the curiosities. My hair allows me to be a bit more interesting than I am on the surface level, as if it’s the opening to the tunnel of all my tiniest idiosyncrasies. But at a certain point during the first semester of my junior year, I simply stopped—no braiding, no styling, nothing. I had gotten my afro cut the semester prior, so my hair was too short to do much with until it grew out a little more. By the time it did grow out and I started to get creative with scarfs and hair care tricks, it didn’t matter anymore. I found a sense of center, of ease, and it was blissful.

Over winter break I decided I needed to change once again, and everything shifted out of place. The hair wasn’t the problem: sleek black box braids never hurt anybody. It was me. I lost all of my cool, my calm, my sanity at a certain points. I fell into a bit of an identity crisis for a while, because every time I looked in the mirror, I saw the thirteen year old version of myself, a version of myself I could only describe as a self-devouring monster.

I had always been in control of my hair. I could color it as much as I wanted without consequence. It could be short. Long. Wavy. Curly. But the power of one minor slip has the potential to unravel everything. However, box braids are meant to left alone for at least a month, so I found other ways of shuffling myself back together. I meditated for a while, talked to people who mattered, cut out people who didn’t. I followed routine with my hair, and every now and again do something different. Soon I came to like the long extensions on my head and the way little kids giggled whenever they saw a bunch of tiny braids cascaded across my shoulders.

And I cut them today.  And soon they will disappear.

And sitting on the floor typing away, the roots of my curls, pushing back against the bunches of intertwined strands, I feel desirable, although quite far from myself.

Last Thursday as my mother drove me home from school, a rarity now that I can do it myself, I told her about an article I read about free locs. I reminded her about my 5-year hair plan I made in the eighth grade, around the first time I braided my hair pink, recalling how I had wanted to cut my afro short freshman year of high school, and then twist the strands into locs my freshman year of college.

She turned to me, smiled and told me, “That would be cute.” I felt excitement bubble in my chest at the thought of free locs on my head because free locs weren’t meant for beauty but convenience. Yet they had always allured me with the expression of life and living they seemed to stand for. I’d only imagine the scrunched up look on my father’s face if I came home with them, but I didn’t mind it at all. All I could think about was how desirable I’d look with as much life on my head as there would be in my eyes.

 

Savior of the Dead

The Lakota sometimes wished he were human. He felt like it at times; he would sit in his chamber, reading stories all day until the sunsets purple hues dimmed his pages. He had traveled far for such serenity, at least as far as he’s ever traveled in his short 15 years of life. This new life felt strange to him for power felt too big for his small hands, and his third eye was still sore and bloodshot from the last time he had tried to use it.

He sat in the mountains of what was once Columbus, Ohio, now barren and cold in what was once spilling with human life. Lakota imagined books spilled out of there too, covering the asphalt streets until the cars were forced to stop and read the wonderful literature presented to them. He sighed, holding his newest book tight and close to his heart. The mortals called it ‘Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone’ and it excited him that a human boy was so much like him.

“Lakota,” a small voice hissed behind him, its thin body slinking behind his back. Lakota sighed, gently closing his new heart and placing it to the side. The scaly being grew fat, its fluttering tail splitting into two humanesque legs, its reptilian face stretching into pink lips, eyes remaining yellow, vertical slits. How repulsive.

“Salutations, Bella. You look well.” Bella grinned at this, his head twitching slightly as dark brown locks fell into his face. His face was sharp and enchanting upon first glance so Lakota paid him no mind.

“Xena shall be returning North once again. He had visited—.”

“Ethalo. I know of this. I do not care,” Lakota snapped, letting his eyes closed as he let his eye try to find the missing boy. He had few friends in his new life, so he tried his best to hold onto them as long as he could manage.

“You shouldn’t use your eye, beloved. You’re simply too weak,” Bella offered lowly, his movement fluid as he wrapped himself around Lakota, his human form lost once again. Lakota allowed his pet up his arm as he kept his gaze forward and focused.

“Why? So you can overpower me? I can hear your thoughts you dumb serpent. Give me one reason why I shouldn’t send you south and straight to your maker.” Bella hissed, releasing himself from the deity before him as he slinked away again, down the mountain and into grass.

‘There was a time where I was more powerful than you,’ the serpent thought, fattening itself again to reveal porcelain skin and light colored eyes. Bella glared at the Lakota in the sky that spent his days reading and looking across barren wasteland. The Lakota simply continued to read his book.

 

Xena’s trek was to take three nights until he would be recalled to life by the Lakota. He did not have much with him; he only carried his copy of ‘To Kill A Mockingbird’, gifted to him by the Lakota himself. He would often think of the Lakota on his search for the five birds that terrorized the life that remained in the Kansan oceans. Eagles, ravens, owls, falcons, and another he simply couldn’t be bothered to remember. He recorded his findings in his leather bound book, another gift from his long-haired friend.

He had chosen to stop by in the east village that resided in Missouri. Saint Louis it was called, which was ironic since Africana tribes resided there. They beared steel masks and performed most rituals with uses of ancient chemistry. Xena feared to touch anything while he was there, but he was always confused for a native until he spoke. However he was not one to wander without purpose. He had been travelling for miles to retrieve one powerful substance.

“Hello Elba,” he greeted, resting comfortably on his transport as the creature made its way through the bazaar begrudgingly. A woman of ebony skin and ivory eyes emerged, hair gifted with jewels and hands bearing promise. She never spoke when Xena came, but she always knew what he wanted. She placed the glass bottle in his swiftly before disappearing back into the crowd. Xena didn’t skip a beat as he moved away, the poor Kansan lizard creature bearing his sorrows.

 

The Lakota tribe had prospered centuries before the first serpents had arrived. Lakota for this reason alone did not look west often, for the west only encouraged greed in the people that inhabited this land. His land.

He had not seen a human since his vessel had returned to what was once the Americas. He saw plenty of mockeries however, humanoid monsters whose limbs had become mutilated and like poison. While his earthly body did not know the cause of such pain, his eye knew it all. This is why the eye chose The Little Prince.

He had just began to learn about the planets when he felt the energy change in the air. He looked into the distance, watching as a giant lizard carried his dearest friend on its back languidly. Xena’s silver hair gleamed from far away and Lakota allowed himself a small smile.

“How fun this end will be,” he told himself, and he read of his planets once more.

 

Ohio had become smokey since Xena last saw it. He knew this land was sick decades before his time, and now the deities were making the population pay. Yet he couldn’t help but find it all so silly, for not a single human was left to suffer.

Night fall came before his new transport had made it to the mountain. As daybreak came, the devil came with it, its hiss and shrill irritating to the lone traveller. A final hiss made the foreigner break as he snatched the creature, staring the snake in the face as its head snapped forward at him, barely missing his nose.

“Bella, you’ve been such a pest lately. You don’t take being the last of your kind very seriously,” Xena said coolly, taking his glass and opening the lid quickly with his teeth. Bella made himself fat once again, landing on the lizard’s back. But the lizard was lazy and did not care for anything, so stay it did.

“I  hate you,” Bella spat, his eyes only yellowy slits. “I hate your race! I hate all of you! Damn your race to hell!” Xena chuckled, the sound building in his chest. His laugh grew maniacal, eyes watery and full with anger.

“We told you humans wouldn’t survive! We gave you everything! We gave you strength, power, and you try and challenge your god!” Bella covered his ears helplessly, blood slowly falling from his eyes. A shrill scream echoed into the wind, his body convulsing as he fell off the transport. The lizard did not care.

The mountains suddenly revealed a figure, their hair flowing behind them as they jumped down from the top, gliding down into the grass. Lakota landed flawlessly, his feet next to the mortals head. Bella’s screams did not stop, his body twitching grotesquely. Lakota grabbed the tortured body by the wrist, making Bella relax instantly. Lakota pulled Bella up with a tug and the three stood upright and equal once again.

“Apologize,” Lakota commanded. Xena bowed his head with hesitation.

“I apologize for my actions, Bella.” Bella did not hear him.

“Very well,” Lakota sighed, holding onto the dazed mortal carefully. “Bella?” Bella did not respond, his eyes slowly warming before his gaze focused. Lakota looked at the man with sorrow. “Believe in me and I will make you well again.” Bella stared at his deity before slowly nodding. Lakota closed his two eyes, the third protecting the last mortal’s soul. Xena brought two fingers to his chin accordingly.

“Strip this body of augmentation and deliver it from suffering,” Xena stated solemnly. Lakota opened his eyes, glancing at his dear friend. Xena nodded, taking the bottle and holding it to the Bella’s lips.
And the Bella was gone.

in the beginning, there was no god.

in the soundless chambers of time and space

it was born.

small and insignificant;

its face blotchy and fat with flesh—

a sputtering mess  on its own—

eyes glowing bright,

the stars illuminated in response to it,

their dust reflective and vain compared to its eyes.

 

Their tongue was made of moonshine

and dry with stardust.

They were in but the child of

oblivion, unknown and renowned,

unforeseen.

 

it babbles softly in the fibers of space and time,

the universe crying mercilessly for answer.

Yet the child will only coo,

its heavenly body occupied with more timely affairs.

Self Maintenance

As you may have noticed, I haven’t posted for the past two days like I had intended to. Half because I’ve been hella occupied, and half because of my current crisis: not taking care of myself.

If you have internet connection, you’ve probably heard the term self care at some point, which while it sounds pleasant in theory, it’s kind of time consuming, costly, and romanticized. Self care every now and again is important, but there’s something inherently selfish about having a routine dedicated to pampering.

So, I coin the term “self maintenance,” defined as meeting the basic needs, like eating, and sleeping, and hygiene, and not overworking to the point of losing your sense of self. I feel like self maintenance compared to self care is very health related. It has to do with maximizing wellbeing on the individual level, building yourself up versus treating yourself like royalty.

Because, in case you somehow forgot, French nobles were very into self care, and then they died because everyone hated them.

I’m not saying that you shouldn’t ever indulge in self care. Self care is best used after strenuous work, like executing a big event, completing a project, or caring for someone else for a long time. I think self care is closely linked to self actualization (self realization, self discovery, etc.). It helps you focus back in on your own individual experience, to recharge in a sense, to sort yourself out. I think a big misconception is it having to be beauty related. For some people it’s zoning out and playing music, or game of basketball, or freeform art. It doesn’t have to be extravagant, but it’s kind of useless when done in the mess of things. You can’t multitask and it can’t be a marked activity. That’s when it’s no longer fun.

But it’s never a priority. I’m glad I’ve come to that conclusion.

So now that I’ve recognized that I have a problem, I want to help some of you! Yes me, the most qualified of the qualified. Please note that I’m actually twelve and therefore can’t be scholarly as far as medical necessity goes. Anyhow:

Do you sleep consistently each night? (at the same time, in the same place, undisturbed)

Do you get at least 6-7 hours consistently? (refer to top bracket)

Do you eat at least twice a day, throughout the day?

Do you eat a variety, and don’t cop out habitually to eat fatty foods?

Do you stay hydrated throughout the day?

Do you eat breakfast everyday?

Do you ever neglect any basic needs?

Do you maintain proper hygiene consistently?

Have you developed proper skills to combat stress?

I think you and I both know what the proper answers to those questions should be. It’s not shameful to be bad at taking care of yourself. However it’s important to evaluate and improve. You gotta keep growing.

I hope my struggle helps you through yours. And in the case that anyone who knows me personally reads this, I’m okay and working on it.

have a good day lovelies,

Kirsten