Here I

Here I

Here I lay,
Tightly coiled,
Limbs twisting and clutching
My own trembling body
So tightly that it bleeds.

I can feel the flames at my back.
Familiar.
Treacherous.
Mine.

For too long I had spent my time
Putting out the fires that others set
To trap me
To choke me
To burn me.

I had finally set my own.

Plumes of smoke rise from the blazing bridges.
Smoke dances from the sky.
My lungs fill,
so familiar with the choking
and smothering
that I had long ago
forgotten how to breathe.

Alone,
But alone is better than.
Broken,
But broken is better than.

I can feel the caress of another warmth.
My eyes open to light
pure and potent before me.

The peace
The love
Is unfamiliar
In its promise to be better
Than.

The light beckons, and I release my tight coil.
My lungs are sharp as they fill with air,
As they exhale the smoke.
It brightens, and I press my palms down,
Muscles aching, burning, as I push myself up.

Here I stand.

My shadow stretches behind me
Pulling
Aching
to remain with the familiar fires
and smoke
and ash.

I dare not look back.

My shadow pleads.
It would be easier to stay.
The road illuminated by the light is jagged
And new
And frightening.

The light beckons, brightens.

I step forward,
Shards of broken dreams crunch
And slice beneath my feet.

They weren’t my dreams.
I was an animal behind glass
Trapped
To be witnessed.
Trained
To be the glory of another.

Blood spreads across
The ash filled path
As I walk forward,
Legs tired, and buckling, and burning.

My shadow caresses my limbs.
Soft.
Familiar.

Choking is better than pain.
Familiar is better than guessing,
Than betting on a future,
Than daring to dream.

I dare not go back.

The grip tightens and I fall to my knees.
They split open from the shards,
By the failure.

The light beckons, and brightens.

Tears clear the ash from my face.
I’m too tired.
Too tired to walk.
Too tired to try.

The shadow covers me,
Sways me
Begs me to coil again.

The light beckons, and brightens.

Pain of growth is better than
Choking on the familiar.
Trying and failing is better than
Giving up.

I place my shaking palms down.

Here I crawl.

-Dani Chase
07/05/2021

Published by Dani Chase

Writer & Artist

%d bloggers like this: