Can be a battle
For some and for me
A war no one else
Knows is waged.

And when stuttering for words,
Trapped in a mouth
Repeatedly shut by rage,
Anger ignites again in the other
And again, more of the same.
“Answer me!”
“What are you stupid?”
“What’s wrong with you?”
“You just have off energy.”
“You obviously need to
Integrate your shadow.”
“You create your own reality.”

My pause annoys others
My hesitance to speak
My mutism
Taken as malice,
Stupidity, insanity
Or that I’m weak,
Damaged, doing it wrong,
Not trying
Certainly not tough
Certainly not

Too many of my days
I lay weeping
Begging for the words to speak
To tell them all how, truly
I find no solace
In sleep.

I find no peace in a rainbow
For my bones are soaked, nay
Drowned many times
In a deluge the never seemed to end.
So, to me, a rainbow speaks
Of another coming storm,
That will rage, and wash quickly away.
Just like bruises.
Just like decay.
There is no hope in tomorrow
When trapped by yesterday.

“Let it go.”
Sure, it’s easy.
I can see
How you’d think that could be.
But there is this thing in our brains
That when bludgeoned
With repeated vicious attacks,
When spat at,
When assaulted,
When picked up by hair,
When screamed at,
Well, it cracks.

And it never forms
Back the way it came.
Just like the memories
That steadfastly refuse
To go away,
Penetrated bone deep
Where the deepest scars lay
Ready, waiting, and available
To permanently replay.

So, they say, there’s hope
In tomorrow
And admonish me
For not seeing it that way
Because the pain
The pain
Surely I’m willing it to
But it just won’t let me away.

And I bury my face in hands.
I hide my tears for their sake.
I wish for it,
I lament in prayer,
“Goddess please
Take it away!

Yet still it is present
It is hounding.
It persists.
The knocking of the door
That opens to tragedy.
To memory,
To scars,
That nobody can see but me.

And the crack is on the inside
And the split it goes so deep
No one sees what I carry truly.
No one sees
Amidst the pain
The truth of me.
The shadow walker
The love stalker
The one never ever
Really giving in.

Only sometimes defeated,
Shell shocked,
Sick, down for the count
With one minute left on the clock.
With one more breath before
I fall

I finally, exhausted, relent to sleep
Where the memories
Chase, entangle,
Enrapture and suffocate
And wake me.

Nay, there is no solace in sleep.
Not this night.
Not for me.
And yet despite that
I’m a fighter.
And a fighter never truly quits.

And if love has taught me
It is this,
Love loves survivors
Fighters, even the weak,
Love knows the struggle
For which so many of us,
I speak.

And love knows none of it means
We are broken and empty things.
There’s beauty in our breakage
There’s a way to peace
Even with every broken piece
There’s a way to mend it
With patience, love, and care.
And if you know this struggle
My sister, brother
Auntie or uncle,
Your not alone.
And I see the bravery
In every breath you take.
And the courage
Every time you wake.
And I see you warrior;
I see above all,
Your strength.

-Angel Marie Russell