And, if I told you that love is the source of creation and darkness abides the whisper spoken by lovers at night will you believe, when I say the edge of a blade is no sharper than truth in light?
And the miserable life of a liar is no worse than the mumbling words of a dying beggar.
And darkness can suffocate the screams of madmen with whispers when lovers call to one another.
And no child is an innocent when lovers show their face in the moonlight.
That was the first poem I wrote in French when I arrived in Quebec, three years ago.
(“Them” is a vague reference to the creatures of the forest; I could have been referring to anything else in the world, but the nature of who and what i was living with at the time makes it easier to picture them).
This first one was about the darkness of childhood: the darkness of being nine, when time is nothing and your soul is naught but a flame; the darkness of being nine, when you’re already angry with the world, afraid of every shadow, your skin like a turtle and your words a dive into the sea of fire.
You’re angry at your parents, and confused about why they insist on wanting you to stay nine forever, and they won’t let you get a job and live your own life, and that’s why they want you to stay eight more months at the Montessori school and don’t allow you to be a little girl anymore, and they call you, all the time, and nag at you because you can’t understand everything they’re saying, and that’s why they call you, when you’re nine, and a little girl but still not allowed to have the same privileges as the other girls.
Your eyes are full of fire and your skin is on fire. And that’s why you’re called Phoenix by everyone else, because you’re too strong, too young to be called a little girl, because your hands are like red clawed birds, and your face looks like it was kissed by a mime.
You can fly with your eyes open, and you tell the story of the dead. You can see the wounds of the living, you can see the tears of the living, you know the sorrows of the living, and you’re always awake, even when you’re in the silence and the darkness.
You’re the girl who sleeps with fire in her veins, who saw everything and kept her head clear, who saw what it was like to be happy. You see the mists that cover the world and your breath freezes in the air. The moonlight is silver when you look at it, but the dead shines in your eyes, and you’re too proud to ever tell them that you are not dead like they are.
You see what it’s like to be happy, and you remember the things that you were afraid to remember before. You remember the fire in your bones and you remember how it feels to be alive.
You do know that darkness is real, and that you are a child, but you will never let anyone tell you that you are the ugly duckling.
You are beautiful, Phoenix, but nobody will ever see you as you are.
You can show the world your true self, and if they don’t like it, they can kiss your ass, because they’ll just have to deal with it. Maybe even beat it, if you feel like it.
I write poems now. (“Them” is all of these things.)
It is the mumbling words of a man who has been let down by everyone in his life, in that order.
It is the bodies of children, the unknown. Great hearts!