Shadow, thorn, and one blue rose

I find myself frequently bemused by this face.

Looking into the mirror as a child, I would stare hard until my eyes bled out tears; until the small, fine lines swam into adulthood – until an image of who I might one day become, was an image grasped in the hand of argent moonlight, riming the effortless sheen.

“I disappeared the lines – as memories came flooding in, the tears blew out my eyes.”

I am not so much who I thought I would become, as an evolved form of what once was. Older and quieter, arrogant still; believing herself to be above the world, even while walking at its feet. This is what sets me apart from those who are documenting what conflicts rip open the threads of humanity, bringing the truth of the world to unresolved eyes, to hearts that have learned the riddle-speak of care and continuity.

I still have far to go. Inhibitions are invisible manacles about my feet, and the years are heavy yet. But they will break. They must break, because I will have no one but myself to blame if they don’t. We are the successors to our own tenure, coming as going – or the flatline of Existence over Life.

I am thirty years old next April. This only bothers me in the context of what I have not achieved, may never achieve, if I don’t find the willpower to focus my voice; to know what it is I wish to talk about, and with whom. Right now, I dither from one place to one more commission, to one more job. There is freedom in these scrappy lines; I am able to up sticks and leave whenever I choose. But as Dido once said – and I do believe in this song, if no other – “But if my life is for rent / And I don’t learn to buy / Well, I deserve nothing more than I get / ‘Cause nothing I have is truly mine.”

I am still afraid of plans. Of setting down roots, of putting trust in anything longer than it takes to change my mind. Why?
Because I have felt the breath on my neck, of one who does not wait. Even as I try to slow down to enjoy things – food, company, a book, a life – I am aware of those thin spinning fingers, and the whispering echo, and the way it all came so close.

But what is a life, of a thread pulled taut?

Grandfather Time, within your tower
– Darkened brick and filled with icy
Breath of ages, standing still –
You hear my voice
You know my name
You watched a lifetime dialling down
To needle clicks and spinning threads.
Now pointing west, the arrowhead
Is finding love that cannot lie
That will not sleep;
You know my choice
A shadow, thorn, and one blue rose.

He bids me rove. There is still much to learn; to be accounted for.

King and Lionheart.

I had locked him away in a pillar of ice, hoping to set his heart free, so that he might return to his duties – for are we not all bound in such ways? Certainly, no royal can remain asleep forever, even while touched by the tint of a blue rose – and this heart does not lie easy, for knowing its shadow falls on a picture painted elsewhere, in another realm. I had hoped that by stifling his voice, so full of thorns, I might return to my own barren ways, this wild wood, this writing in black-gold … but it’s never so easy, is it?

Summer sun and winter moon
I have forgotten who is who
And still we chase, across the sky
The one to live, the one to die.

His blue-black shadows of doubt, for this lionheart. His dark water for my fire. I stride forwards, even while falling back; there is no letting go, though the words meet my eyes as thorns in the palm. I cannot deny what has not been done. Just as I cannot let go of what has not yet set beyond the horizon.

The sky is filled with both moon and sun so rarely; it is these times I cherish, with the world held between, a little black kitten with ocean eyes. We are the balance, do you understand?
I am tired, inside and out. Even this heart grows weary of pain, though she cuts open her own lip so frequently, on a wire-grin.

I live for pain. To feel alive, to know that I still exist. That I am not merely asleep. This once took the form of self-harming, hot needles on the skin (irony lives in fear of contamination, even while drawing blood.) I once danced my legs down to the knees, and trained beyond the gravel-pain of heartbeats in the throat.

Now, I set the moderation bar, and try to remember that to live is to know peace, too. Quiet. Sifting dust. Just because I am awake and aware, does not mean that I must push to the very last breath –

– before fading out.

These are but thoughts, as ever. I have been called many things recently – “wise”, “adorable”, “arrogant bitch.” I would say, put in a blender, they might summarize someone I would like to be. Who I thought I would know, when “all grown up.”

Instead, I am merely blinking away tears in front of the mirror, trying to resolve a firm image of the person staring back, with water-dark hair and freckles that have seemingly appeared from nowhere. I never had them as a child. But they are a good find.

I like tracing patterns. Stars, algorithms, the flecks of a magpie’s wings against a gunmetal sky, in accordance with the turning pages of a book, clasped in the hands of a hurtling-home commuter.

I can pretend to be cute, for all of an hour, before growing bored and wanting the serious façade back. Then this will be dropped too, in time for a giggle over a colleague’s terrible mug of coffee.

We are only a collective of emotions, rick-rolling from one situation to the next. I used to believe that I had to be same person for each, a static entity, so that no one would doubt my credibility. But this is boring as whale shit, and not sustainable. Mutability lives in the fire, stirred up by the rising air; water flows to enjambment –
And earth clings to the shovel, digging your grave.

I am a nonsense of words tonight. Just flexing these fingers, after all – a warm up, before chasing the sun back across the sky, as Celena, as Gaia, as the pseudonym made up at age fifteen, with no clue (then) of what significance it would come to hold.

Here, fire lights upon the ice
The shadows thaw beneath the smile
Of summer’s name, now caught between
A sea of stars, to call you home.

Trust in this, if nothing else.


4 thoughts on “Shadow, thorn, and one blue rose

  1. annepeterson says:

    Loved it. Your pictures drew me in and caused me to chase after every line with wonder.

  2. Amira K. says:

    Gorgeous, Rach. As usual, you’ve nothing but truth and beauty in your words.

  3. At 29, I thought I knew who I was. Now at nearly 39 I know who I am. I loved my early to mid 30’s. They were the time when I finally discovered the things which made me tick. At 34 I had a breakdown. Since then, I have *really* found out who I am. Only put down roots when you feel you are ready. Some feel that at 20, others at 30. Some may not until they are 50 or more. There’s no right or wrong way to do this life, renting or buying. You won’t think 30 is young right now (I didn’t)! You will think time is passing you by and think “shit, I need to do something.” I did. But if you are a reflective person you will always feel that way and that’s good, because it pushes you on. There is no hurry, there is no rush. Live in the moment as much as you can. In the time since I was 39, I have written a novel and a half, fostered my nephew, bought my second house, down sized my career so that I am not so bogged down by social expectations of promotion I never wanted, but rather can enjoy my job. I’ve flitted through 5 different schools in that time, whereas most of those I know at my age settled on one school and stayed there. I’ve loved and lost and loved some more. I’ve seen my parents remarry after 12 years of divorce. A lot has happened in 10 years. And not one bit of it was planned for or even hoped for. I have always been restless, craved change. Only now at nearly 39 do I feel “settled” and happy to be so. The elusive loving relationship still awaits, but I have to trust that will find its time too.
    You will find yourself. Trust this. Your thirties will be better than your twenties. Ask anyone.
    Peace, love and stillness. xx

    • raishimi33 says:

      I’ve read this over several times, Jo, and tried to reply in such a way that’d do it justice. But the only thing I can think of, is that you’ve pretty much echoed what my beloved Grandmother told me when I was little. I asked her what her favourite time of life had been thus far. She said her 30s – she had left the inhibitions of youth and 20s behind, and was well on her way to being the person she is to this day – strong opinions, strong will, neutral in her stance on the world. I can only hope to achieve the same; I’m getting to the point where my opinions are (finally) being informed by my own knowledge. I’m taking responsibility for my decisions, by learning as much about the world as I can – then I’ve no excuse, and can try to see things from multiple viewpoints wherever possible, before making up my mind.

      As to your parents remarrying … d’you know, this is something that hit me between the eyes, in particular. Seeing my parents talking together and laughing as friends, over a decade after their divorce, I felt a stab of pain at first. “How dare you get along now, when you made my life, and that of my siblings, hell on earth? When my adolescence was brought down by your vile words and actions?”

      But, how pathetic a response. Jo, I’m still trying to forgive my father in particular, for a lot of things. He controlled my mother, even after she left. He is a different man now, so much milder, and I need to grow up, and let them get along. That’s the only way forward.

      Thank you, so much, for your words. I wish I’d responded sooner, but it’s taken me this long to figure out how.

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