Right now, I am seeking solid ground. I feel adrift from myself. Somehow I am trying to reel myself in, pull myself to the shore of myself. It’s odd to be both the island and the boat, the fragments and the w/hole. I feel like a stuffed animal that has spilled its cottony guts, like I need to sew myself back up, but how can I be both the needle and the cloth? 

But enough with the bad metaphors. 

When I am like this, the solution is always so simple: notice. Notice the tapping of these keys, the burning of the fluorescent bulbs, the thin strip of light that sneaks in and paints the wall next to a long window shade, drawn closed. The solution is to look—at a bright yellow shirt, the ridiculous geometry of the carpet, the red box on the wall that says FIRE in white letters. The solution is to hear—the steady hum of the air conditioner, the sniff of a student, the muffled voices of people next door, or outside, or downstairs. The solution is to feel—the letters under my fingers, the bar that holds up my foot, the strap of my sandal that presses across my skin. The solution is to smell—the institutional air, the trace of lotion, the whiff of laundry detergent. 

The solution is to remember—all those touchstones. Molly, the sandy driveway of my parents’ house in Florida, the hill behind my grandmother’s tiny house, that green couch that never made the move when we left the split level on 26th Way, the sharks teeth I used to find. Sunsets on the Outer Banks, the ferry ride to Ocracoke, a laughing girl running down the hill and leaping onto a hammock swing, her hair streaming with sunlight. Crossing the finish line, that Sanskrit prayer, Guilford, a rushing river around rocks. And of course, these words, and all the words, that leave my pen or dot the screen. Those are the fibers in the rope that pulls my boat ashore.


Richmond, VA

lokah samastah sukhino bhavantu

Alexandra DuckworthComment