san andreas: A poem

Nishali Naik/Staff

Tonight is a beautiful night to open old wounds.
Re-examine the scars that have long since healed —
barely visible, but still there,
old haunts.

They permeate like fault lines,
quiet and unassuming until they’re not.
Until one wrong move,
one shift of the tectonic plates deep inside you,
shakes you until you can taste your own frantic heartbeat.

Most days the scars are easily forgotten,
trinkets of the past.
You look at them and you don’t recognize the person you were when you got them.
You don’t recognize the person who gave them to you, either.

In a different universe,
on a different timeline,
maybe the collateral damage is too great
maybe the fault lines run too deep
maybe these scars break you and you can’t build yourself back up.

Luckily,
in this universe, this timeline,
they don’t even bend you.
There are tremors, and you sway,
but always manage to keep your footing.
Retrofitted and built to last,
no other option than to remain steady.

By law of nature, everything ends eventually.
Empires fall and cities crumble
under the sheer weight of existence.
Stars explode or collapse,
galaxies swallow galaxies,
and one day there will be no one left to construct melodies or listen to them.
One day there will be nothing left at all.

Tonight, though, the stars shine.
The cities thrum with light and love and life.
The melodies hum on, and are listened to.

Tonight, there is you.
You and your fault lines —
reminders of the places you’ve been
and more importantly,
promises of the places you’ll go.

Tonight, you thrum with light and love and life.
You construct melodies with each breath out
and swallow them back up with each breath in.
A cyclical symphony as the omnipresent soundtrack to your life.

So, yes, tonight is a beautiful night for opening old wounds.
But it is not the end.
Not even close.

Contact Madelyn Peterson at [email protected].