Skeleton Song

I want to go home.

I am a traveller, a visitor of worlds, swimming in vast oceans of light and song and memory. I love my travels, for they make me wealthy beyond measure. But wealth is heavy. Sometimes you want to sit and go through your pretty things, admire the way the light glints off their polished surfaces. But other times you want to put them away, cut the rope and let yourself float away.

I want to go home.

I long for the familiar scent of damp earth and the promise of more rain, the taste of the air, the sound of voices I know. I long to sleep in my own bed and wear my own clothes and open my eyes to stare at my own ceiling.

I want to go home.

And I want it to feel like home when I get there, not like something I knew lifetimes ago, some stolen half-remembered treasure, some word on the tip of my tongue that I will never quite catch no matter how hard I try. I want it to feel like home, and it won’t. Ever. You can’t borrow someone’s soul and wear it on your back like a jacket. You will always know it doesn’t fit. You can lie to the world, but you will know, and the truth will burn you.

I want to go home…

…But there is no home to go to. So what must I do? I must craft a new home from the threads of stories, from the snippets of conversation I stole from elders in my childhood, from my blood, and bones, and the things I know in the deepest parts of me, the parts too dark to be civilised and too pure to be chained.

What is lost is lost, and wanting will not bring it back.

I wrestle with this giant truth, kicking and biting and drawing blood. Every night we dance like this, like ravenous warriors, like silent predators. And every morning, weary with death and tears and unravelling, I burrow deep into this truth and let it soothe me, because it is my friend, and my nightmare, my angel and my nemesis. I must love it, and loathe it, and live with it. I must bear it because as much as it pains me, as much as I grieve…

…It is true.


The First and Final Warning

Be careful, friend.

You are too loud in quiet spaces, too eager to reveal your ignorance. You think weaving words is something any fool can do because your cousin’s boyfriend’s sister woke up yesterday and is now – Ta-da! – a wordsmith.

Listen. I am very glad for your cousin’s boyfriend’s sister. The discovery of one’s voice is something to be celebrated, always. But let me alert you to your mistake, for your own good, so you never repeat it.

You must show respect. Don’t argue. Don’t play with things you do not comprehend. Don’t tell me everyone is a writer deep down underneath, for while we are all engineers also, you will never catch me telling someone how to build a bridge.

Listen, friend, before you slip and fall and break useful things.

You think half-assing your way through the sacred space of stories is nothing, because no one taught you how to respect words, or whispers, or secret spirit places. Never mind. I am here now. I will teach you.

While you played marbles I created worlds in the back of my school exercise book. While you tried on one “calling” after another, discarding them like torn hand-me-downs, I was deep in the belly of the universe, swimming in tales the likes of which your mind could not possibly conjure.

Words have made me a fire than never goes out. I am a warrior, born to this, bred for it. I am a storm. Don’t step into my arena and try to wound me with pebbles. You will fail. You will falter, and I will not help you up.

Be courteous, friend. If you are not…

I will write you into a corner.

I will write you into a deep, dark hole and bury you in splendour. I will break you apart in a thousand wonderful ways until you bleed words, until I have made you a mage, until all that is glorious in you unravels into glistening threads sticky with story sap, and you are utterly undone.  And you will thank me, because you will not understand. You will be so grateful to be suffocated by the sheer wonder of words that you will not even know when it’s all over.

Be wary of those who do what you cannot, for we are all magicians and our spells are not the same. There are wonders all around us, wonders and weapons, and people who know how to wield them.

I am very, very watchful, friend, among those I do not understand. Mouth shut, eyes open, pen at the ready.

Be watchful, too.

Be careful.