Poetry of Stephanie Bennett Henry

Mourning Empty Graves

I want to be a clean slate, wiped blank from all that affects me, uncracked from all that reaches into my bones deep enough to hurt forever. The pain that touches me, shouldn’t even graze my skin, but it plants itself inside, grows old wounds until they spread new. I hate the way it never stops splitting me open, the way I root myself so permanent into moments that should be nothing more than a corpse rotting in the rear view mirror. I can’t walk away from those graves, on my knees, holding flowers in memory of a time that forgot me long ago. And I don’t visit those graves, they visit me, like a haunting that never stops turning my heart cold. They try to make a home of me when I don’t know the way. Lost the directions so long ago and if I ever had a home somewhere, I don’t recall the address anyway. Maybe my heart is homeless, searching for places that offer shelter, even if only temporary, even if it offers nothing more than feeling anything at all, as long as it’s more than nothing. There’s so little in the more than nothing, but god… there’s so much to be found. Like finding a smile when you don’t have one and it feels so much like love promising to stay forever. Even if forever is only a few days, it was longer than never and sometimes… that’s everything isn’t it? But my knees are dirty, the way they plant themselves on the graves of anything that ever made me feel more than nothing. My hands, they are bleeding from the thorns of these flowers I won’t stop holding in the memory of what? Maybe to remember a time when I didn’t have the need to make myself bleed like this just to recall the time I got this scar, and feel all the pain that caused it. If I don’t feel it like it’s set on replay forever, then it’s forgotten and if it’s forgotten, then it never happened. I can’t let the scars heal like that, to make them never matter like that, wipe the slate clean like that. I don’t want to be cold like that, but I want to be big like that, be able to move on like that. I pause myself, stop myself, trap myself knee deep in the dirt and blood and pain. For what? Give me an award for recognition of holding pain like I hold my breath. Brand me with validation that proves I matter, that all the pain was worth it. Show me where the light is or a tunnel that leads to something that shines over the clouds stuck in my eyes like scars that tell the healing no. Backhand me numb so I fall off this ledge that never stops feeling. And why does that ledge deserve my feelings anyway? Turn out the power and reset it to now. Take me to the black out where everything turns dark, wake me up when the amnesia rips my heart open and smashes it clean or anything from yesterday or before. Fill it with only today and tomorrow where there are no graves to visit, no flowers to meet death in my hands, no scars for me to rip open to show the dark that took my light. Bring me a sky that shows me light that’s mine for the taking, so I can see what I should be shining for. I need a reason to dig my heart out of those graves, and bring it back to life again. I need to live again without being triggered when the wind blows too hard against me and leaves me gutted. I am so heavy with wanting to be as light as a feather of two birds that once flew together or even just one bird who was always okay flying alone.

Stephanie Bennett-Henry


1 thought on “Mourning Empty Graves”

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