She came in shadows underneath a bright-lit sky.
She came shroud in darkness and deceit and false hopes
She flung onto anyone who would catch them.
She came waving her wands, spitting her vile, taking
Taking, taking, taking
Taking everything he had tried so hard to keep from her.
He had made promises that he had kept,
But she had come to snatch the promises away
To throw them to the dirt
And trample them until they were naught but ashes.
She came with all the hope and peace and love in the world
Not knowing that hope and peace and love look different through different eyes.
She came trying, with open arms,
To embrace all of the world, and all of him,
And found, when she drew her arms back towards herself,
That she had taken his very life.
It was summer and she was hopeful. They had been out by the water all day and had gone in for a rest. Now they were clean and dry, except for her damp hair that blew wildly out the open window.
The city lights were nearing, speeding quickly on as they drove up and under and around the tangled highway. She could feel the energy of the city spill out to meet the energy increasing in her. The air and lights and cement and radio were churning and pulsing, matching the beat of her mind. She smiled and turned to look at his steady, un-churning face. This is what she had come here for.
They entered the city and crossed straight through it to reach the water once again. This was not the well-kept beach where they had spent the bright, carefree day amongst the usual summer crowd. Here the water met rocks and then cement. Here there were no crowds and every dim street light cast shadows. She was still carefree, but his clenched jaw and fists told her that he was not. She had made her choice and was now free to live in it. Here was where it was his turn to make his. She was hopeful.
She lifted her head at the sound of his voice. It had been years since she had heard that sound, but she recognized it instantly. It was the voice she had carried around inside her head when she was a child, before things had changed, back when she was still happy.
His voice was clear and shrill and earnest and as lovely as it had been to her young ears. She looked around for its source, hoping to see the face that had accompanied his voice and had crowded her mind all those years ago. Her small brown eyes searched for his bright blue ones. She couldn’t find them.
But his voice kept coming. She wished she could stretch open her ears and cram them full to the brim until every intonation, every note, every whisper and every yell spilled over to drip down her neck and cover her skin. She used to swim inside his voice as a child and now, 15 years later, she still wanted to sink down deep and lie at its very bottom.
I met you and fell into a hurricane. Wind and rain and gray swirled around me as I tumbled and spun and was thrust from one storm edge to the other. I reached out my hands to hold steady and found nothing but churning movement slipping through my fingers.
The sound was ringing in my ears – your name, your name, your name, shouted over and over through the pouring of rain and the whistling of wind. You said your name and it was a thunderclap in my ears. To this day it’s all I can hear.
My ears were ringing and my arms flailed. You came near and touched my skin – my skin pelted by water, scratched by debris, fully awake in the cold so cold it felt like fire. It was your hands on me that brought the storm’s embrace.
“There is nothing else,”
So I turn away
From colors, from sounds, from eyes that see
To grayness and a blank
Placed for those who are not sated.
“You were wrong,”
(And you’ll never let me forget it),
So I draw out the blade
Over the last of untouched skin.
“You were wrong,” you repeat,
“To offer any sacrifice.”
No sincerely-I-do love,
No level of child’s understanding,
To counter your “This is all there is.”
I originally wrote this as a guest post on Plane back in October, 2015, but I wanted to share it with you all here as well.
I developed my first musical crush when I was 12 years old. It was on Candlebox, an alternative rock band from Seattle. (It was the early ‘90s; pretty much every band was an alternative rock band from Seattle). I was venturing from the world of dance pop and Top 40 into the world of rock, and Candlebox was the band that made me realize this was the new territory I wanted to settle in. What the point of connection was between me – an introverted girl who still owned Barbies and read every “Babysitters Club” book she could find – and songs such as “Cover Me,” “You,” and “Understanding” I’m not sure. But there was something in the loud rawness of this music that captivated me. I stopped listening to TLC and Ace of Base and entered the world of grunge. I got labeled a “rocker” by the other kids in my junior high school. I decorated my school notebooks and binders with “Candlebox rules” and “I love Candlebox,” as though Candlebox was the name of a boy I liked. I suppose in a way it was, since my crush on Candlebox was at least equal in intensity to the crushes I had on actual boys.
So I “liked” Candlebox. And then one day, as I was faithfully listening the local alt-rock radio station, I heard Billy Corgan’s voice. Everything changed. It was as though a door had appeared in the alternative-rock house I lived in and opened into a vast musical world of greater depth and quality than I had ever known. Yes, Candlebox and The Smashing Pumpkins (of which Billy Corgan was the lead singer and writer) fell into the same genre of “alternative rock.” But Billy and The Pumpkins were different. Theirs was an emotional and musical complexity, exploration, and daring that made me jump gladly across that door’s threshold.
While I had been infatuated with Candlebox, I fell head over heels with The Smashing Pumpkins. Discovering them unleashed a level of emotion from and personal attachment to music that I hadn’t experienced before. I was swept by the contrast and range in the band’s sound, everything from the simple, melodic beauty of the piano in the song “Mellon Collie and the Infinite Sadness,” to the earnest, congested guitars and drums in “Silverf***.” I was roused by Billy’s poetic lyrics that covered multitudes of feeling, from exultant love in songs like “Stand Inside Your Love” (my favorite love song of all time) to the despairing of life in songs like “Jellybelly.” And then there was Billy’s voice. From his yells to his whispers to his talking, no other voice conveyed to me or provoked in me as much heightened emotion as his did.
Everything is clear.
All you tried to give me
I can now accept,
In this state,
In this altered reality.
It’s really not that bad,
To feel more than you thought you could feel,
To feel more than they say you should feel.
Everything is clear
When I can see your face un-obscured,
Untainted by the reality they bring to us as chains.
What I wanted you to give me
I now place before your feet.
I won’t ask
For what I’m not willing to receive.