One’s dignity may be assaulted, vandalized and cruelly mocked, but it can never be taken away unless it is surrendered. ― Michael J. Fox
It’s my pleasure to bring you another poem submitted by Topaz Winters. Her poem takes us inside the maelstrom of a wounded spirit stuck between feeling the reality of unrelenting anguish from abuse, trauma, abandonment, and the dream of love and life as first imagined. The journey to healing is never swift or without setbacks captured in the line, “I sometimes pretend I’m a phoenix.” Topaz’s advocacy for survivors and awareness is greatly appreciated. Topaz offered her poem as a tribute to the readers and authors that know abuse and trauma all too well. Thank you for your continued support, Topaz. And now, dear reader, I submit to you, Sticks and Stones by Topaz Winters.
by Topaz Winters
I used to take on the world with the eyes of a
warrior and the claws of a lion, but that was before
you came along in storms of red and gold and
bruises disguised as kisses. you drained me of
the fight I promised myself I’d never give up, but
even now I can’t remember what it was like when
I didn’t need to lean on your ghost. I’m still trying
to learn how not to need you.
but please, darling, remind me how it feels to build
forests out of splinters and kingdoms out of dust. on
days like this I can’t help but wonder why you broke
me and then left when you were halfway to reforming
my shattered fragments into something that almost
resembled a masterpiece.
I find a cradle in parentheses, a pillow in commas,
and if I met you in a dream then the aftermath is
a perfect nightmare. you cut me so deeply that you
are the only thing I can remember how to bleed, but
I’m still trying to immortalise the scars you left behind
in these limping syllables. I’m too tired to replace
your name with pronouns anymore.
I sometimes pretend I’m a phoenix, but then
I remember I’m nothing more than a girl who
scratches words into mountains and dreams
of a heaven engulfed in fire and ash. people ask me
why I write about the same things over and over,
and maybe I don’t have an answer. maybe all
these twisted poems are as close as I can come
what I really want to say to you: that I miss you,
that I hate you, that I love you, that the sky is not
the sky without you. it’s so easy to bleed now that
I’ve forgotten what I’ve been fighting for.
tragedies sing in my veins. love songs whistle in my
bones, but when I try to carve them into the lines
in my skin it seems my vocabulary has been stripped
of everything but your name and the words I’m sorry.
I’m lonely. I’m afraid. I’m afraid. I’m afraid.