The first night I heard a thunderstorm,
The first night I heard a thunderstorm, I mistook it for an earthquake.
There was no way something so loud was made by the sky
which was just as soft as you and I.
My mother's plants were uprooted as if someone had reached in,
pulled spindly vines from warm soil,
pulled spindly vines from warm soil, tore them out of their own comfort.
That was when I learned that the world would sometimes
allow my roots to breathe above ground,
allow my roots to breathe above ground, take me from a situation I knew
like the back of your soft hands.
Maybe that is why when I grew up,
I mistook footsteps for the ground shaking,
I mistook footsteps for the ground shaking, alone in all its trauma.
My friend's grandfather was uprooted as he went away to war,
and for months and years after, he'd always have a place
at the dinner table, as if he'd walk in at any second,
wipe his muddy shoes at the door,
wipe his muddy shoes at the door, kiss his wife's bordered cheek
and dig into fresh tomato soup,
and dig into fresh tomato soup, into baked sourdough bread,
into any conversation they had begun
into any conversation they had begun to fill the empty chair at the table.
I have not gone to war
I have not gone to war and nor shall I return.
But when you have spent time believing
the earth was curling around you,
the earth was curling around you, a quotation mark,
at what point does hope open its mouth and speak,
announce it has arrived just for you,
announce it has arrived just for you, taking its place at the table?
I had dreamt of this day for months,
I had dreamt of this day for months, dreamt I would no longer be
another 'sad girl',
another 'sad girl', dreamt I would have loved the world so much
to not just stand by as time held a match against its throat.
The ugly things in life burn the brightest, the quickest,
swallowed whole in flames in the time it takes for food to hit the stomach.
It's true, you and I are more like a forest fire
than a pretty picture,
than a pretty picture, the ghost in the graveyard
and not the actual body.
The city you leave behind is still mine to love.
I ask for no payment,
I ask for no payment, just let me take on this world
walking through thunderstorms
with my ears ringing,
knowing that I will be the one to pat down the soil
and steer this ship home.