how do you exist

I enter into a classroom built by a prison-enthusiast. The shape of our learning today is circular and I stare into the faces of students with my forearm on their desks.

Intimacy is defined by the reveal of first time of menstruation and the ways in which I handle my sad.

I explain to a young warrior, with periwinkle-dipped fingernails and a mind with more stories than hours in the day to recount, that amidst all this sadness, there is beauty.

There are footprints, which follow me everywhere. Between the toes, sand. The sound of heels against Brooklyn pavement, like shells crushing toward a new formation. I can only dwell on the grey for so long, then I fondle the magic of life around me.

I’ve let go of the pills. There are none in my wardrobe and my pockets are empty of anything sharp, outside of keys that allow me entrance into safe buildings.

But sometimes I do think of gathering up handfulls of incantations that end in the illumination of my shadow looming.

“How do you exist?”

“How do you love/ how do you know to love?/ how to know when love is safe enough to sit inside and remain?”

/ / /

Allow time each day to cry. For the length of one pop song or three television commercials or a bike ride from one part of (insert place) to another.

Regard emotions as friendly reminders that you are still breathing, still existing, still searching.

Love tastes best when it is delicately placed on collarbones or shoulders. You can feel it by the way it makes everything around you seem like a Broadway version of life: glittery, loud with bodies dancing to the rhythm of language, musical.

Remain. Not because others ask you to, but because there are way too many poems (songs, stories, paintings, thoughts, sounds, movements) still birthing their way out of you to leave.