May 9, 2020 // emerge

When I emerge
the sun will greet me,

hold me like
her first rising,
new growth beneath
box braids—
left in a week
or two
too long,

my silhouette in the
bedroom mirror—
when I touch myself
for no one’s amusement
but my own.

How I keep arriving
at this moment,
I do not know.
I have been reborn

before,
and yet
always I forget
how much transformation
costs,
how much metamorphosis
hurts,

how much of me is left behind
to build something new.

When I emerge
the sun will greet me,
as she always has.
And this will have to be
continuity
enough, constant
enough, for

I cannot promise to be
someone you recognize.


I started this poem on May 9, 2020, and returned to it on May 18, 2022, scrolling through my notes app on my last flight from Oakland as a resident. A lot of my mid-20s has been me, stuck in a loop, having cataclysmic realizations that I then bury. The realizations never stay buried, though, resurfacing at the next fork in my character arc. I notice them just in time to watch them disappear again. I’m trying to hold onto, then let go of, some of them this time.

In our second to last session, my therapist asked

Are other people’s expectations blocking you from self-acceptance?

It is uncomfortable.

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