The Way Out
by Claire Heywood
If you want her pain to disappear,
do not ask her to rise above it.
If there were a simple solution, she would have found it
in the middle of the night, long ago.
Loving her so, you only want her pain to disappear.
Remember that you do not want her to disappear with it.
Stand beside her as she stands before it
walk with her as she walks into.
It will not be simple,
it will not be clean,
or all at once.
The way out
is not above.
It is always,
The river, in all her freedom and flow,
is earth-bound still.
As long as gravity applies,
she will have to go through.
Watch how the river caresses, comes impossibly close,
wrapping watery arms around her obstacles.
She rages, trickles, turns up silt,
floods, engulfs, surges,
widens land in her deluge,
cascades over cliff-edges,
continues forever through.
To my sister, incarcerated by fear:
meet me at the confluence
of our two histories.
I will stand there with you
and watch the water move
for as long as you need.
- Chad Seidel
Just over a year has passed since my dad died. My dad was (is) one of my best friends, and understood me in a way where words weren't required. As a flight attendant, he sent me all over the world at a moment's notice, never questioned my wanderlust (born, of course, of his own curiosity to explore our little water droplet of a planet), and taught me to be filled with wild gratitude. While I am able to know what advice he'd give me in any situation, I'm still adjusting to the fact that I can't text him anymore for that advice.
Confronting that truth feels a little bit like someone successfully starting a bonfire in my chest cavity, and I've cried on and off typing this out. That aching, that heat, hasn't changed in intensity. If anything, when the shock faded a month or two after I held his ashes, I became even more sensitive to it. It's not, however, the pain of abuse. Rather, it's the pain of a love that's bigger than my modest human body could possibly contain.
Several years ago, my dad's big brother, Uncle Chris, gave me his old film camera. I've hauled it all over the world with me, on trips made possible by my status as a dependent of an airline employee. I shot these both before and since my dad's death, with the exception of the portrait of the woman and the satellite dish. This was shot on my roof in Brooklyn on October 16, 2015, by my musician friend the day my dad stopped occupying his body. He was down in Texas when he passed away, but the light of the sunset on my face is undoubtedly my father. Thank you for sharing in my collection of light.
to heal our wounds is to clean our wounds,
to flush them out,
and flesh them out,
into melodies and masterpieces,
for all the scary world to see,
we hesitate to bare our bruises,
ashamed and fearful of our truth,
but from broken fragments we reassemble,
an empowered vision of life renewed,
for many days we suffer silent,
tonguing our sores without relief,
because art is not always beautiful,
sometimes it makes us cringe and cry,
it begs the question why,
why is the world so ugly,
why is there so much pain,
but to see our sisters and brothers and non-binary others,
rise above in purgative release,
to speak our truths in vulnerability and love it,
in spite of those who wish us hushed,
because the darkness doesn’t go away if we ignore it,
so we must shine a light with our voices,
cry out for a future less bleak,
sing for soothing and peace,
speak to give strength to the weak,
shedding our mud like a lotus,
The cycle of death and rebirth is complete.
- Dani Cole
- Malia Ikaika