Stardust and Ink

Stardust and Ink

We are trapped behind bars
of paper and ink. Defined by
the black and white. Destined
to form the shapes they call
letters and words. We hide
behind pages and let our
weapons dry in ink. We
count syllables and words.

And in doing so we attempt
to make the everyday count.
We write about things that
aren’t true in order to whisper
about the things we hold inside
us in boxes of pain and scars.
Boxes make the best stories.
So we count those, too. But we
don’t talk about any of this, or
anything really. We just
construct chapters, themes, or
stanzas to surround it with
binding. That’s how we tell the
truth. We present things in a gold-
rimmed goblet empty of the blue
that we turned into ice and when
it shatters we count the pieces.

I lined up bottles of ink
and watched them slowly
drain. Holding in my hand
things mightier than warfare.
The things that foster or
pulverize the peace. Across
the room shelves filled with
pages covered in my new
patterns. I turned my boxes
into pages because they were
taking up space in the corners
where the sunlight doesn’t
reach. Now they are bound
with thread, imagery, and
symbolism rather than lock,
key, and prison door. I’ll let
you read the stories they turned
into. And once the words leave
the page and enter your own
corners they’ll belong to you, too.

Phrases stick out and people pass
by, all with different contents.
And so we pull them apart only to
string them back together to form
the realities that you escape inside
of. Rather like the equations that
we chose this work to hide from.

We go to lands misunderstood
and covered in shadow: a race
of explorers with no guide but
the organ we are more inclined
to follow. We discover things in
these dark corners, things we
attempt to explain with a form
of permanence. But ink only tells
the truth it is shaped into. And
understanding what we find is
half the battle of immortalizing it.
There is no table of elements for
the soul, no way to categorize the
mysteries it never told.

The only equation that we really
understand is the one that created
our kind: write and bleed. Bleed
if you do not write, and bleed if
you do. Bleed in every color that
your jar of pens contains – stain
the pages (line or unlined
according to your preference) with
the ink that runs in your veins.
And when the words stop coming
you count their swoops and swirls.

There are shelves lined with words,
bound with gold or silver or faded
like the edges of a hymnal. Each
the delicate account of one traveler
or another. I’ve often wondered
why we let others read them.
Perhaps to help them – to spare
them from their own discoveries.
But instead of learning they escape.
And when they put it back on the
shelf it’s nothing but another check
on a summer reading list.

I visited a library once and
saw tall plastic shelves, a
spinning column of paperbacks.
You know the kind I mean.
Sitting near the door they were
nothing but an impulse buy.
Soiled virgins, millionaires.
Centuries of art reduced to
cheap ink and thin paper meant
to heat your skin rather than
inflame your soul. How many
read and returned in one day?
And what is the story of the
tree upon which this is printed?
Tell me that one instead.
Let the ink dry on the thick
pages of that rare truth. How
many rays of sun did it soak in?
How many raindrops? How
many leaves did it love and
let go?

I learned long ago that when
we write we choose a life that
requires facing the wounds.
Whether they be our own or
the still open sores of humanity.
As long as you can remember
the feeling of the cold floor
on your cheek from where you
lay broken, you can write.
Some of us turn that cold tile
into books with pink covers
and some of us turn it into
roads with no destination.
But the shelves behind the
spinning plastic columns hold
them all. Maps leading the way
to the truth of everything.

We are drawn back to the
writing desk on sunset days
when the turntable crackles
in a song fit for David to play.
Or sunrise days when tea
whispers over porcelain. On
days when the memories of
the cold floor rise from
whispered conversations. On
gray days when humanity is
weeping from the sky. When
headlines use their ink to
inform, and fields of flowers
can’t find the sun. We sit and
open those jars of ink, and
watch as it bleeds across the
page. Writing is like the love
that you always go back to.
The love that creates the tempest
of chaos as well as the only
real peace. Writing is like
that love. Paradoxical and
necessary.

A fortune cookie once dared to
tell me that happily ever after
does exist. And I chose to believe
it because through the snuffing
candles and endless mazes I can
see a brighter light that sometimes
grows faint but never fully leaves.
Stars shoot across the sky when
I look at an endless night, and they
seem to whisper the same thing.
My heart settles into this truth
and decides to hold on.

I’ve always hoped to know the
truth behind the majesty of a
starry night. But the more I try
the deeper it gets, the further
into the stars I fall. So far that
I get lost there and don’t wish
to return home. And then the
bright star with two tails picks
me up and takes me back to the
soft warmth of a summer night,
and it tells me something good.
And I believe it every time.

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