Neurological Sudoku, by Sariah Starr
I left her office after being shaken
like an etch-a-sketch.
The emotion coming just to the
surface in my chest, my gut, my breath.
When her fingers finish shaking me
from the inside I return to find the
emotion so I can feel it the way
I like to feel it in cycles.
Like a drum beat. Like a song.
I return, and the screen is
blank with only an outline of
what I felt was growing
too big to hold just minutes before.
Just like that--one corner of my
Neurological Sudoku, but only the
simplest section complete.
I try not to think of the rest of me
that is left to be sorted and shaken.
I try not to stare at the paper
worn thin from scratching
through and erasing.
As though one more wrong
attempt with dissolve
a part of me.
I rise and feel the gaze of the
concrete slightly gripping each
step of my sea legs while I smile
because I'm not so heavy,
and I trust each step that feels
more solid beneath me.
I will trust this more when
I reach the outside and
I'm not crying that the sun
is too bright in my eyes.
No one ever said I had to look
directly in its light to get to
where I'm going.
There is serenity in knowing that
although I am lighter I
carry more of my responsibility.
It weighs me down just enough
to not get caught in the tailwinds.
As I'm leaving she guides me to
self care, and I try to think of
salt baths and soft music
I try to think of dark chocolate
and Netflix, but my dopamine
rushes when I think
the "P" in poetry.
They say you cannot heal in
isolation, but what if poetry
is my long lost friend?
the one who taught me to speak
in the language of my soul's native tongue?
My self care is practicing my language.
Laying out the words for the feelings that have become knotted up
and twisted until
they have choked me.
"No one thinks clearly when there
isn't enough oxygen" I say gently
to the girl who ran with her hair
unruly in her underwear.
She was crying, but no one could hear
her because she had forgotten
the language of emotion.
Poetry connects me to the
past versions of myself.
Each voice trying to teach me the
way I should get the love out.
Each voice with a strategy
that is certain.
"Certain to fail," I am forced to tell them.
Still I give them the pen and the paper.
They scribble love's postulate
while the beat of my heart
Then my hope rises until
I realize the oxygen is missing
again. I am tied in knots and
I'm finally caught up to the
woman who knows there is no
postulate for me.
She isn't sad about it.
Not like she used to be.
I honored each version of me that
wrote down her story.
I embraced them and sent them
on their way never saying
that they still had it wrong.
One by one I loved them,
and excused them for not knowing
how to make love stay.
It takes loving in the light
It takes accepting there is
a fire that will not grow
dim in avoidance
I cannot put out the fire
when it is burning in darkness,
but I can choose when to sleep.
I can choose to honor the flame
when the world calls me
coward because I've already
been burned in the darkness
and I love the flame too much
to see it weep.