By Lauren M. Fahrer, TIWP Women’s Writing Program
I am bent, burnt and broken. I rise. I walked this path long before you arrived. I will be here long after you go.
If I could tell you all my secrets, it would frighten you. It would give you reason to doubt humanity. But most of my secrets would give you hope.
I started out small just as others do. Like any concept, I grew. I grew enormous. No one knew how it happened, but I became larger than life. I became a symbol I did not want to be and did not seek.
My intention was not to be the center of attention, but to be a backdrop. An old friend. A trusted friend. In a way, I guess that’s what I had become. I did not know this until today.
I can’t even imagine how many photographs, paintings, and marriage proposals I have been part of. I never meant to intrude.
Perhaps the thing that has fascinated most was how the large things never phased me. It was always the little things I found most poignant. Perhaps it was because I started out so small and that’s what I could relate to most.
I don’t know about you, but I enjoy the one-on-one conversations. The quiet moments. The long thoughts. The silence. That’s what I love the most.
I detest and have always disliked being used as someone’s excuse to behave badly. My home wasn’t built for hate. Don’t get me wrong, a friend in need was a friend indeed. I don’t discriminate. I welcome all into my house.
The ones I really care about and want to get to know are the ones that whisper, singing quietly to themselves. Those are the ones I sing back to. My entire being vibrates with joy. That doesn’t happen enough anymore.
Lately it’s been “what can you do for me?” No one cared until I was almost no more. Yet as the smoke cleared, I was still there. Who would have thought? Burnt and broken, I hadn’t been destroyed. Heads turned, hearts full. But I still stand.
Now after 850 years I hear the small whispers of “what we can do for you? How can we help?” in every language one could imagine.
Now the lives of people from the past 900 years touch fingers with lives of the present to help me. To help me.
Once again, I will hear the small whispers not just a few times a year, but for years to come, in voices I don’t understand but will love. And the love is given back.
They say a phoenix rises from the ash. I am not a phoenix. I am a concept with stone walls beside the Seine River looking up into the starlit sky, full of possibilities.