Sand Tunnels

As I dig and dig, the sand parts.

Somewhere along the way

I find a pretty rock

and further down, a shell.

Upon inspection

the shell is shiny and curved just right.

Once I’ve stored it safely in my pocket,

I keep digging

searching, perhaps,

for myself.

 

As time passes,

my hands cover in coarse brown sand,

undusted as the hole gets larger;

my perspective widens.

Hands thick with soot,

brow furrowed against the sunlight,

I see the other side.

 

I reach a moment of clarity,

one where looking down at my hands

reminds me of what I’ve done,

what I’ve put myself through

and brought myself out of—  

rising past the thorns

and out from the depths of holes.

 

When I sit on the edge,

inspecting each rock and shell—

collected, weighing down my pockets

clouding my surroundings—

I see what is really there;

beneath the shine,

the dull, bumpy colouring of a dented shell;

the odd shaping of a crystalline rock.

 

These symbolic items

and their romantic elements

shatter

with their imperfections.

A new, cracked image

shows them as they are—

flaws and all—

shining a light on the fuse between

beautiful edges and faulty cracks.

The overall shape and being

of a simple element

strengthens,

regardless of its initial perspective.

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Lightbulbs

In one small section of my brain,

the door eases shut,

but the light remains.

Around the corner down the hall,

a different storage room collects dust.

The room’s old light bulb is ice cold to the touch;

frail and unused — surely unable to stay on

without blinking with uncertainty.

 

In this hall, the floors are cracked,

stained with years of

children scurrying to and from,

knowledge expanding

beyond the walls of just one room.

 

Over time the department gets smaller

and smaller.

Old lightbulbs collect inside a box.

Soon, the hall empties — boxes stack,

stored untouched.

Walls weaken with age,

doors rust unused.

 

Occasionally, maintenance is done;

a curious growing child goes back

to her roots, seeking what she once knew.  

Boxes are pried open, doors swing wide;

the hall lights up as the dust is washed off.

Each room brightens temporarily.

 

At the end of the day, the girl goes home,

and the boxes shut;

seemingly neglected still,

dust piles again.

She leaves with intentions to go back;

to revisit and clear the dust.

One day she hopes

to keep the department alive,

for as long as she can help it.

Unconquered Lands

I am speck in time

connected by moments pinned on a board.

As I watch, the string hangs,

disentangled from the past.

In my mind time plays like a black and white movie,

a distant memory.

 

Waves of longing no longer crash into me

instead, sputtering up to where I stand at the shore

as a reminder.

A brief encounter with what was,

the ocean of experiences is now open for tourists

and I am its first and most frequent visitor;

reminiscing in its scenery, hesitant to dive into its depths.

 

The beach that is memory lane is never far.

Some days I make the drive

but others, I turn away and go home.

Choosing to look at all that’s in front of me,

I see myself as a whole;

a little bird stuck in a forest of trees,  

surrounded by endless unconquered lands.

 

I stopped longing for the water

when I flew home.

With a distant feeling of weightlessness and

something bittersweet,

my vacation goggles are off, stored safely in an old shoe box.

The chain breaks at last;

life renewed, larger oceans to be discovered.

In The Depths Of The Ravine

Sticks are what I use when we’ve been hiking for three hours, and occasionally as mum admires the flowers, my brother and sister sword fight with sticks. To the side I draw a sun in the dirt, dragging my stick behind me as I run to catch up with them when I notice they started walking again.

We continue like this and even cross the canal; hopping from rock to rock as my fingers tingle and my mind screams “dont get wet, you can’t swim” until my sister and brother splash each other and I have the sudden urge to dip my shoe in the cold stream.

When we get to the deep end, mum finds flat stones and skips them on the shore, and my brother even gets a few. My sister tries it too, but her rock slumps on the water with a splash which taints the cement holding the canal together.

 

At some point as we gaze in the distance, as mum teaches us about the birds, I drop my stick and forget to pick it up again and I’m flushed with embarrassment because I didn’t see or hear any birds. When we get back onto the path I pout as I watch mum and my brother hug each other. I kick a rock, and my sister runs after it; she laughs and looks back at me expectantly so I giddily punt at the rock and it goes flying again. The rock is a soccer ball and though my aim is off and the rock makes dirt rise, we play until my sister hears mum whistle — we ran too far.

As we wait, my sister notices the both of us don’t have sticks, but she finds two twigs and for a moment we cast spells and I laugh as she mimics herself crashing into a tree. I see my brother running up to us and he stops, drawing a long stick as he plants it firmly into the earth “you shall not pass,” he says, his voice carrying out behind us and we all laugh as he bows.

I wait for mum, and they talk about video games so I decide to sit on the path. On the ground I notice ants carrying pebbles so I picture myself carrying a boulder, and what that’d look like to a giant. On the side of the path I see a couple brown snails in the grass, and one hanging from a leaf.

 

I distantly hear mum come back and decide to climb up a trail up to the top. As we walk my brother says, “I wonder what’s under that rock.”

Mum quickly replies, “No! Don’t lift it,” and he snickers. When we get to the top I see plastic bags and beer bottles and even a blanket near a fallen tree and I wonder quietly, shivers creeping up my back as I see the roots of a tree curing around a rock and beside it a lighter and a crushed white and blue pack of cigarettes.

My brother hands me another stick which I lean on as they talk because I’m standing to the side so I can’t hear mum whispering. Below us, at ground level, the grass leads to a road and I count the cars as I realize we’ve been here a while.

On our way back down I use my stick so I won’t fall and mum even takes my hand a couple times as my sneakers slip on the earth and my feet tingle because my mind screams “dont fall you’ll break your arm.”

 

Once we get back to the canal mum bends and takes some beautiful rocks, glistening from the water, one is green and smooth and one is ridged and brown, and I stuff them both in my pocket as my brother and sister lead us to the stairs, and I fall behind again after I leave my stick for a dog to fetch and pant my way up to the car.

Little White Shell

you bend down at the shore and it’s there, glimmering as water passes over it, foamed and vicious, crashing onto the sand. the white curve draws you down to it, spotted just as it glides with the water, bumping against your shin.   

you reach blindly as another wave crashes and almost lose your balance as the white swoops under while you seek it. lifting it out and cupping it in your hands as the sun glimmers and wet, mud-like sand falls out. you rinse it underwater again and it is no longer bare and white. instead it’s creamy and a little green as the sun passes over it, rays cooling your skin in a delightful contrast to the cold water at your feet.

you stand there bathing under the sun, like a cat on a porch, blinking at its brightness, a sigh escaping your lips as clouds pass over, and you wonder to what lengths this small item has passed to end up in you hand, or how much longer for it to become a bit of sand.

you think it was probably lived in, but you’re not sure by what. it’s too sturdy to be crushed by a sea carcass or a foot. it has a hole in it, whether from the waves or from a small creature, you’re unsure.

 

you take it back to your beach towel, stumbling and distraught for a moment, where’s my towel again? wrinkling your nose as your weighty feet crush into the sand, you walk with clumps of warm sand sticking like glue to your toes. the walk is slow, each step a mission as your hips jar and your heels work while you seek out a path that won’t fling sand into other people’s eyes.

the pearl coloured treasure clasped in your left hand as you walk, you finally get to your towel, dropping to your knees onto it, making sure not to get too much extra sand on your safe island of cotton. you dry your back first, and the sun still blinding you even though you aren’t facing it. the creamy colour stands out even as your vision fogs and your eyes water in attempt to see through the brightness of the sun.

 

when your back is dry you turn over, using the object as a sun block even as you continue to stare at it, twisting it around and around, playing with its shadows. this is the good thing about the sea. despite the sand and the obnoxious sun, this creamy green gift is a collectible. its as useful as jar of sand, but that’s the thing, it’s not sand. a smaller one might become a part of a necklace, or a bigger one might be a paperweight or shelf decoration. but this one is creamy and has had a full life under water. now it can have a full life as you twirl it in your fingers, guaranteed not to become like the stuff that sticks to your toes.

obviously possible

or maybe we just see things like we’re told to see them,

like a flower in the grass or a light in the dark.

perhaps we see things the same, but they can’t be since our eyes see colours differently.

possibly i see what i want to see

like i hear what i want to hear.

or maybe it’s because i cannot see. obviously i cannot hear,

because i have an aid like a tiny microphone in a large field of people

and only those beside me can see it and only i feel it.

perhaps the vibrations i feel

when i cannot hear are like mini earthquakes on the earth.

or as tiny humans in a big universe we are like the birds in the sky

it is huge and we are small but we are one and together.

or maybe we are born from the will of our mothers.

or from the stars. perhaps both, to satisfy the public system.

our birth is symbolic because it is the start of an us,

but also of a me that will be an us.

or maybe it’s all a ruse and we’re just us without a meaning.

people give significance because they crave it, maybe.

Chilled to the Bone

Jesus, I don’t want to. Someone else can fucking sweep; why me? It’s like I’m a fucking doormat, I swear. I seriously hope the heat gets turned on tomorrow. Or someone replaces me tonight, maybe I can coax Angel, or Peter. I can go home and — fuck, I hope he’s home. If he’s out, he’ll be stressed and — he never texted me back did he? That’s okay. It’s fine. Mona said he just needed time. Yeah, time. Time I spend at work. I haven’t felt warm since the fucking sun’s been out — and, now it’s all clouds. Victor would say “You’re such a cat, always looking for sunshine rays.”

At least he’s not here, telling me I should’ve waited till next week, taken the week off and focused on the damn assignment, focused on school. He’ll be okay, though. “Just taking some time.” Probably miserable as hell and totally denying it, but it’s fine. It’s cool. It’s not like texting him will solve it. If he’s home, he’s probably listening to music and cooking. Fuck, I’m so hungry. I hope he makes something warm. Something soup-y.

 

Jesus, watch it! I’m sweeping for Christ’s sake. I know you’re holding fucking boxes of food but if you weren’t wearing headphones, or I dunno, yelled “Comin’ through!” I’d have seen you, you imp.
Where the fuck’s my pile at? I hope you didn’t fuck it up. Well, I guess the longer sweep the less time I’ll have to spend serving customers. “This meat too well done, do you think I could get another sandwich?” No, you can’t. “This isn’t what I wanted” Well, you pointed instead of telling me, so my bad, “This isn’t warm enough” I burned myself on the pan, you asshole, eat it. “Why is there tax on bread?” I have to count the fucking change without a cash, alright. Relax, sit your ass down and wait for your sandwich.

I should’ve brought an extra pair of socks. But at least it’s warm at home. I’ll have a nice tea and keep Victor company while he does his work. Maybe I’ll eat – maybe sleep on the couch so he can have his privacy. I don’t know, man. How should I handle his stress? His stress is stressing me. Mona said – yeah, yeah I know – I can’t fucking help much but it would be damn nice. I hate being a fucking rat, doormat, whatever, tip-toeing around his stress, worrying about him. If he’d tell me a bit more maybe that could – no, no you have to give him time. And space, if he needs, yeah. It’s perfectly human. He knows that. You know that.

 

This is the shittiest fucking broom. Doesn’t get the small crumbs. Maybe it’s advocating for the fucking ants and rats.

If someone else fucking runs through my pile one more time I’ll have a cow. Squat right here and have a fit. Like those fucking children who’re making their parents crazy — touching everything and bickering loudly — impatiently ordering as if I can make the food come any faster. Just get your kid under control if it’s that embarrassing — even though it’s not like anyone actually cares.

I just want a smoke, some time with Victor and a fucking tea. Something warm and cozy and shit; not all these strangers and stray co-workers. At least Allan hasn’t busted my ass because I’m “Still sweeping! What the hell, man?” And Victor hasn’t said “What about that assignment?” for a little while now — probably because he’s so miserable. Fuck I wish I could just hug him and force him on the couch with like fifty blankets and a tea and Ripley.  


Ripley’s probably sleeping happily in his corner at home. It’s so cute when he curls up so tightly taking as little room as possible, a warm ball of fluff.

If Victor knew what he was stressed about, if he knew he could go for a walk and let it all out in one steamy breath. He’d be fine. Oh, shut up, get over it, he’s busy with his own thoughts. He probably — stop assuming — maybe he thinks — I’m so out of it, so clingy or — whatever. Dude, that’s ridiculous. Stop worrying about him. Christ; this isn’t good for you.

 

I’m gonna go check on Angel, maybe she needs help. Fuck sweeping. Let the ants have a party. Customers need their “fresher than fresh” sandwich and Ansel probably needs help. Victor’s at home where he needs to be. I’ll be out of here in no time if I keep with Ansel and Angel. They’re probably desperate for interactions that don’t include “What can I get you?” and “That’ll be…” and “Here you go, sir.”