Denaya Rose

A compilation of poems, stories, ramblings, and thoughts.

Present.

Wrapping Celebration Holiday Ribbons Present Gifts

CC image courtesy of Max Pixel

I wrap my thoughts in ambiguity packaged for consumption. A layer of protection between a vulnerable perspective and the likely chance of misinterpretation. Indecisive conclusions. I give away the tired pieces of my mind and make room for discovery. By the time you find me here, I’ve already moved on. I find no pain in past life, only lessons. The clarity of retrospect does not escape my thoughts. I decide that the present is too unstable for analysis. Try again later.

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Lunch.

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It’s a hazy Friday afternoon in the space between spring and summer. I’m 14 years old and full of unjustified hope. I think there’s something great out there waiting for me, so I view this slice of my life as a lesson in patience. I’m wearing jean capris with a pink sweater, watching a mindless rerun of some teen show. I don’t think much of this moment, but I do notice yellow rays of sunlight creeping through the blinds and warming my cheeks. I sit on a donated leather couch in the one bedroom apartment I share with my mother. I cling to daylight.

My thoughts are interrupted as “Sweet Dreams” by Beyoncé echoes from my left jean pocket. I don’t particularly like this song, but my friends do. I struggle to free my flip phone from my hip and then I stare at an unexpected name flashing across a tiny screen. I pry my phone apart with gentle tact.

Hello?

Hi honey. His voice. Half of me but somehow foreign. I don’t know what to say. Listen, I’m driving right now so I can’t talk long, but I’m coming down to the coast tonight and I was thinking we could go grab lunch or something tomorrow.

Sure, Dad.

Okay, I’ll call you in the morning. Bye.

Bye, Dad.

Maybe if I were somebody else, this would be a normal conversation. A father calls his daughter. They make lunch plans. But I’m not somebody else. I haven’t seen my dad in two years. I spent my childhood looking forward to sober Tuesday breakfasts. I am full of pain and forgiveness and confusion.

The day passes into night, as days do, and I fall asleep. My phone rings again in the morning and I tell my dad I’ll meet him at the mall across the street. I don’t want him to know where we live. When he’s not drinking, he’s fine. But if he gets our address he’ll get drunk and show up unannounced at 2 am with a dozen bar wings and he’ll stand on our patio and pound on the glass door until my mom reluctantly answers and he’ll barge in and yell in her face with spit flying off his teeth. So, I tell him I’ll meet him at the mall.

It’s a short walk and the weather is nice again today. I get halfway across the parking lot when I see my dad’s signature shade of rusted blue. He notices me. I fake a smile as we hug and he tells me how much I’ve grown. He’s aged at least five years in the two since I’ve seen him.

I hop into his truck and the familiar smell of cigarette smoke and dirt invades my nostrils. I become aware of the likely possibility that somebody from school might see us together. I sink into the truck’s ripped leather seat. My dad asks if I want to get lunch and I cannot shake the embarrassment emanating from within me. I know he can’t afford much, so I suggest a fast food restaurant up the road. He wants to go inside but I insist on the drive-thru.

We eat burgers and fries in silence and I am acutely aware that we have nothing in common. We make small talk about school and my brother. When our conversation comes to a natural end, I step out of his truck and walk away from my humiliation. Back to false comfort. Back to playing pretend.

Balance.

Raining Weather Rain Water Nature Raindrops Wet

I live the same day twice,
Then thrice,
Then a hundred times or more.
Repetitive like the thoughts inside
My duplicated mind.
I’m morphing reality
Through selective memory.
Only I choose what remains.
Perhaps there’s no choice at all,
For if I could paint my past to life
I would not appoint you.
I hear you despite consonance,
Echoes of trauma
Screaming through these halls
Through time and space.
You find me not for love,
But for control.
Turn off the lights,
The lights,
It’s always the lights.
Are you afraid of the dark my dear?
Each time I cry,
I hear a disapproving groan.
The shaking of your head
Against my pain,
While I seek comfort
And find a clenched fist.
I’ll give you something to cry about.

Gradual.

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My eyes scream while I crave silence. Audible solitude hides behind whispers of wind. Shuffling papers and grocery bags. Dishes clanking in the kitchen sink. The noise grows gradually like the changes in my perspective. Understated elegance melts within the endless chatter of daily life. The world is so loud and I can’t tune it out. I can’t hear my thoughts over your demanding company. It’s easy to find peace in a beautiful place but my mind clashes with chaos and I cannot find beauty within. Each word alone is overrated. Put them together and they’re trying too hard. Quiet. Serene. Noisy. Unseen. I’d rather not live inside your mess.

Ideas.

Reaching out

CC image courtesy of andrew and hobbes on Flickr.

I don’t know where you come from or why you evade me when I need you most. I seek your presence and you wither in my hands. Robust potential reduced to half a thought and plagued by the expectation of productivity. My effort scares you off like the fading walls of my lucid dreams. Your world collapses. Mine follows. You are genuinely contrived and full of forced honesty. You are three lousy sentences in a book I’ll never write. I’m sorry for dismissing you during life’s inconvenient moments. Sometimes I wonder if my words are a cage because you only show up when there’s no threat of capture.

Restless.

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I’m surrounded by lost stories
Pieces of people never perceived
Extraordinary thoughts minimized
By average minds
And brilliant minds the same
Through fear
Or patience
Or unjustified acceptance
I mourn my own memories
While I remember remembering
With haphazard value
From fragment to sequence
The pressure of capturing perfection
And flaws simultaneously
Renders me speechless
While a story hides
Under the disguise of intention
Selective silence
Breathes within an unspoken word
My mind grows restless
Between explaining my absence
And justifying my presence
I am exhausted by the balance
As I create copies of myself
And move forward
With the past in my notebook

Eight.

It’s my sophomore year of high school. I’m new again, which should indicate a chance to start fresh, but there’s nothing fresh about my recurring story. I cannot escape the unwavering inadequacy wrapped tightly around my existence. Fear fuels every movement: crossing borders, running toward uncertainty. I’m merely a passenger.

A continual lack of normalcy follows me forward. I cry each night for the neglect of home, tortured by the burden of past. I see a country abandoned by unworthy citizens. I feel my sense of inclusion slip further away with the loss of each day.

Two boys approach me during gym class in my first week of school. I am staring into an oblivious and friendless void, so I don’t notice them until they speak.

“We rated every girl in this room.”

“Okay,” I reply, still looking aimlessly forward.

“Do you want to know what you got?”

“No, please don’t.”

“You’re an eight,” they say before walking away.

My existence is reduced to an arbitrary number. My inner worth and struggles are obscured. I sink deeper into self.

Rejection.

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A phone rings in an empty room
Quiet faces mask discomfort
In the realm of unread emails
And deleted voicemails
And automated replies
I seek truth and find untapped potential
And you
Shaking under superficial sighs
Hiding behind a faded voice
Somewhere between condescending notes
Played off-key
I’m not waiting for approval
Or demanding unauthorized attention
In this life unfit for consumption
The door creaks with a hint of invitation
Pressed against my deflective presence
And by the wind
Slams shut upon arrival

Both.

Low Tide Beach Ocean Cave Wales England

Bravery or weakness? I’ve carved out every cavern of my mind and I still can’t make an honest distinction. Tragedy turned commodity. False intimacy intertwined with painful recollections. We cannot bond over a disparate past. I care about your story, but please don’t make this a competition. I’m not here to buckle under your self-appointed authority. I know my view is tainted by my eyes. I can’t see without glasses.

Ownership is senseless. I’m just playing the normalcy game. I took a sociology class in college once. The professor assigned a volunteer assignment at a food bank to help us understand poverty. I liked that she could never tell I’ve been hungry before.

There’s elegance in accepting your position. It’s bold to be happy despite. But it’s demoralizing and awkward to constantly feel out of place. I’m not better for it, and I know suffering is relative. I cleanse my memory and divulge a small piece of my truth. I’m chipping away at my story.

Letter.

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I trace my freckles from skin to air. I do not need permission to take up this space. Imprecise yet somehow rigid, I stand. Careless. Unapologetic. Credible in my convictions. I know your misery is not mine to carry.

Your hovering presence fades as I place you in the past to mingle with your unwarranted presumptions. I rest my expectations. I let you settle into a flawed perspective with the understanding that it is not my job to fix you. Your unfair judgments do not intimidate or render me unreliable. Nice try, though.

I’m an untouched letter on the counter, perfectly written but never read. A folded burden, somehow forbidden. Do you think words care if they go unseen? Do your eyes somehow validate their existence? Does your aversion make this paragraph weep? We are both unbothered now that you’re contained inside these words. Goodbye.