Emptiness

You know it and I know it. You’re dull-eyed and out of luck, but more importantly – out of change. You’re out of clean clothes and out of breath and the last time you thought you could be in of something you were drinking rainwater in the streets of your own neighborhood surrendering to the emptiness that no longer housed you but followed you every step of the way.

You learned to carry these things with you and made room with for them next to your placeholder of a water bottle that never served much utility unless you remembered you were thirsty, which rarely happened because you were preoccupied with where you were going and how you were going to get there. Since you never (really) knew where you were going, any mental reserves favoring homeostasis were drafted for the homeland’s burgeoning industry – deciding what the next destination would be.

You carried this lack of ownership with a tiredness that attracted no followers but never failed to inspire one-day-to-be writers and born-again seafarers. You carried your lack of possession with a signature pale drudgery coupled with such faint-hearted smiles that ambulances paused and crosswalks feigned interest. “I’m okay“, you whispered, “I’ll be okay. This is the price of freedom, and for that, I’m willing to sacrifice everything.”

That night, someone took off your backpack and ran off with it while you were sleeping. I was there, but I didn’t do anything to stop it. You asked me why, but I just looked at you with surprise.

The thing is, you stand up so much straighter without it.
You fill up space nicely.
We don’t have to coat check a bag of emptiness to put your mind at ease.
You allow things to become something.
That’s not giving up emptiness.
That’s cultivating it.

I know you’re a protector.
That’s what you do- you protect.
You protect even when there’s nothing to protect.
I get it. My father’s like that too.

But I want you to know that you don’t have to protect emptiness.
It can take care of itself.
You won’t lose sight of it.
It’s everywhere around you – just look!

It’s there in every unformed sentence,
Every almost-encounter
Every new breath of air
Every pause between notes.

We end to start again.
That’s the way of things.
That’s how you and I get to be here.
And if you like, that’s how we can be together.

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