I have learned to wrap my loneliness around me
Like an old winter coat.
There is beauty in things broken.
Kindness guards against a bitter season.
When I was 30
I spent sleepless nights
Of hushed song, warm milk, swollen eyes.
A mother’s work is her secret.
When I was 26
I came undone
Under a smoldering desert sun
Found nectar in the Mojave
Felt my body melt like water.
Water has no shape.
Home is an ocean
Though I’ve never learned to swim.
When I was 14
I learned to dissolve in crowded spaces.
Even among friends
I start to fade along the edges.
This is not the same as sadness.
Emptiness, like contentment, demands no shape.
When I was 2
I sat alone in a curtained room
Terrified that the darkness would swallow me.
There were no big arms reaching down to save me.
I live under old shadows.
When I was born
Air flooded my watered lungs,
Sending a singular shrill cry into the universe.
Isn’t this how it all begins
Alone in a giant world?
Christen Lee is a family nurse practitioner in Cleveland, Ohio. Her writing has been featured in the Cleveland Humanities Festival poetry collaborative, Literary Cleveland's Voices from the Edge Anthology, Rue Scribe, The Write Launch, and Aurora - The Allegory Ridge Poetry Anthology.