Forward, Forward

By Caroline Hesby, TIWP Student

Change rides the wind like a wave.
It washes over your sinking body
growing to a white cap then
retreating to a ripple
but always swirling around your soul.

Do I hurt more to curl up safely in my youth 
or do I hurt more to shed my withered skin 
and leave all I’ve known behind?
The tide pushes me forward, forward.

I’m collecting pearls. I learned to hold my breath 
and let my lungs fall to the rhythm of the sea and I’m collecting
pearls at the bottom, I enjoy each one and its clean white shimmer
or its soft pink grains. 

I’m hopping gently across stepping stones in a small stream. 
I keep my head down 
and with each leap my heart pounds 
with the shore in sight. 
I stop in the middle. 
It’s quiet and the trees rustle in the evening air. 
I look behind me,
and the little gray stones are gone,
and my path is turned to rushing water,
blurry and ungraspable
like a movie, like a memory. 
My legs grow weary, I wobble
and I wonder, 
but how shall I go back?
What if I want to go back?

I feel a warm gust from ahead wrap me in its warmth
and the river pushes me forward, 
forward. 
I trudge through the dense forest
peering into tree lines and shadows.
The sun breaks through the covering 
and leaves a trail of gold that I follow.

My pack grows heavy, stuffed with hours,
days, with years. 
How could these minutes be so heavy? I ask. 
I drop to the soft dirt and look inside the bag.
Its dusty and discolored, I look anxiously
at these familiar moments 
that I drag
wastefully 
through the land. 

I scoop out the content— 
just a dusting of color left—
and leave the junk pile 
on the forest floor. 
It’s unusable, helpless—but it’s a pile of me
and my hours and my days and my years and they weigh me down but they’re mine,
and how am I supposed to leave me behind?

I straighten, 
I feel the weightless space on my shoulders,
I wonder if I’m floating.
I move away,
slowly, 
from the pieces of me
scattered across the Earth–
they shall sink into the ground
and seep into the roots
and I will keep moving forward,
forward.

As I walk I recall these green forests
in their dying crimson and gold.
I recall the roots of a woman’s brown locks
melting to a silver snow white,
and the clam’s shell building up
year by year, the pastel ridges 
protecting the treasure within. 

I fall back to the sea
and I’m grateful for this ocean,
the water rises and falls against the curves of my body
and I never grow stiff in this ever changing tide–

I close my eyes. 
I know the blue sky may burst
to a warm pink and orange while I rest,
but I don’t mind–
I feel the sun moving forward,
forward.

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