A Poem for Du'shan

by Kristen


The first poems were about the shadows in alleys and waiting and warm, hard-packed dirt under his feet. Later there would be the smell of baking bread and the glare of the sun on sand and a heat that was internal, but was neither anger nor joy, but a mixture of both and something else he didn't know well but which spoke with passion. Before that, though, there was always a hardness, a blunt reality, a longing he didn't have the words for yet, but that he could feel like an ache when it was overcast.

He didn't have any of those hard, aching first poems anymore. He'd left them behind in chalk and gone to live in a garden behind high walls. That was where the bread and the blinding desert and the heat inside him came out and spread wings across paper as he learned to write along with cousins half his age. These were softer, more internal than the poems he hadn't had letters for. But he didn't have any of those poems anymore, either. He left those behind when they made the crossing.

He left other things behind too.

It didn't bother him though, losing all of those poems. They'd never really seemed like they were his. They belonged to someone else who had his face and looked through his eyes, but wasn't him. They were outside of him.

In Solace there were poems too, but they were too slow to keep up with the people and time and his life as they flashed past him, too fast to do much more than scribble out a few fragments, a few images before they were gone and he was left behind again.

He had kept those scraps of poetry. He kept them for himself, hidden away. He liked to take them out, and think about finishing them, and make wishes over them, and then put them away again where no one could see.

None of those was his poem, either. He knew he had one somewhere--a poem that was for him and was him at the same time. Sometimes he thought he had a glimpse of it, could hear a jumble of words that he was sure fit together correctly, but every time he thought he almost had it, it would tangle and trip over itself and then disappear. While it was comforting to know it was there at all, it was frustrating, like the heat he'd known in the past, only tempered, whiter, because he knew he could grasp it and hold on if only he could put into words everything he'd forgotten and all the things he ignored to keep from thinking that he'd wasted something, or lost it, or had never even had it in the first place.