Charting Courses

It’s funny how life works. I wrote this years ago, but phrases still come back and hit me square in the gut again. Learning is cyclical, I suppose.

Anyway, I know I’m due for a life update or something. Soon.

After years of being out at sea— the twitch-muscles in my calves
are so used to the constant swaying of shaky hands and fluid commitments
that the stability of feeling safe is so foreign it is almost dizzying.

My internal buoy has been measuring the up-downs of surrounding ebbs and flows
for so long that simply sitting quietly while he holds
my hand is a level of sea-glass calm that
skews all of my previous internal measurements.

It’s ridiculous how quickly the body adapts to a stormy climate,
and I have been living solely with sea-legs for so long
that I’m still waiting for the ground to move with every step I take.
I am unsure how to stop trying to calculate the moment when the sea will sweep
my foundation out from under me and I will have to readjust my footing once more.

He mentioned that he was surprised at how much I tossed and turned at night,
and I realized that it’s because I’m so used to sleeping on turbulent currents that
my body is unable to rest with the term “smooth sailing” anymore.
It’s as if the only way I have measured how much I am cared for is
by calculating the force with which my heart has been
plunged into the barrel of the waves.

I’m terrified that, in my attempt to get back to my idea of equilibrium
I will throw him into my hurricane heart instead.
I fear he will get sucked into the current of
my tossing and turning and get swept out to sea.

I don’t know how to broadcast
that I am used to raging weather storms,
that I spent so many years as the storm-tossed maiden
at the bow of the ship my ability to show my feelings
has been eroded away with each pounding of a crashing wave.

Seeing this many storms has taught
me it easier to show nothing, even
untrusting of the steady stream of warm-aired affection
he uses to try and move this boat forward.

I don’t know how to stop thinking the gusts of
warm air are just signs that the storm is coming.
I don’t know how to stop looking for the
black whirlpools hidden along this new course I am supposed to chart.

I don’t know how to untie the knots in my tongue
that were trying to keep this ship together, but I am scared
that if I do not I will just get blown back into old storms
I have already navigated.

I do know that I am tired of looking at
the backside of a lightning bolt and saying
“Ah, yes, I have been struck this way before.”
As I continue to keep moving straight into it.

So I am relearning to navigate by the stars
instead of by misguided internal compass.
I am trying to give up my fear of sinking
in hopes that I can learn to jump in with both feet.

Besides, after this many storms, I’ve noticed that the sky’s blue
is only more vivid after you’ve shut your eyes to hold out salt-water.
Yes, you will have to blink away the drops of past-waves
that were pounding into you, but the darkness in that moment
may make the light of the next one that much sweeter.

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