I don’t know how to say it.
I don’t know how to bring it up.
Growing up I was taught to be silent in the wake of empty rooms,
in the wake of loss.
But I’m the only one who lives here now.
I scream but nothing happens.
I howl with everything no longer left in me.
I’m seeing things I don’t want to see now.
I’m remembering the names of every demon in the bible
my great grandmother used to tell me about.
I remember every pain, every lost child,
every flooded city.
All I want to remember is that cave
and those bandaged hands again moving.
I need to know how to get there.
I’m feeling things I don’t want to feel now.
I’m sleeping with centuries of sorrow beside me now.
I cradle it when it cries at night. It wakes me up.
I can never get back.
Lydia, we would’ve named her after you.
Lydia, I would’ve loved her like I loved you.
Before time and circumstance took you both,
it could have all fell into place.
I lost too much in one little hospital bed.
It wakes me up at night.
I’ve never seen death stalk the tracks of life like that.
I’ve never seen darkness so closely follow light.
I scream but nothing happens.
I scream but nothing comes back.
What’s there to dream about anymore?
What’s there to think about now?
Bubble bath beards, putting big hands to tiny hands,
that’s what dreams used to be.
It was lifting someone small above my shoulders,
making her feel big. It was letting her see the stars
just a little closer.
Dreams aren’t supposed to lead
to lifting up a tiny corpse from a bed.
Dreams aren’t supposed to mean checking for a pulse,
then hours later, checking for another.
Dreaming is supposed to lead to fulfillment,
a good life.
I don’t get that. That was never meant for me.
I get praying alone and seeing where that gets me.
I get writing letters to the underground.
Somehow, something still resides here.
In this chest something lives,
but it frightens me to a stillness.
At night I lay my head down
and, as a lover, take sorrow into my arms.
I tremble and close my eyes.
Every night it whispers what I should’ve always known.
Blood on the floor has never meant life.
Elijah Noble El is a 21-year-old actor and writer from Livonia, Michigan. He is the author of The Age of Recovery (2015), a debut full-length poetry book. He is the co-founder of Girls Don’t Cry, the film division of the literary magazine Persephone’s Daughters, a magazine aimed at empowering women who have experienced various forms of abuse and degradation. In 2013, his short story, “Oblivion,” received the Award of Excellence in Literature from the Michigan PTSA Reflections. He co-wrote the play Off With Her Head (2013), which won the 2014 Lansing State Journal Thespie Awards “Special Award.” He also wrote the short film, Dog-Faced Honey (2016), which was nominated for Best Writing from the Top Indie Film Awards. His work has been featured in Straylight Magazine, Hooligan Magazine, Persephone’s Daughters, Exist Magazine, Soul Anatomy, The Odyssey, Eastern Michigan University’s Inkstains Anthology, and in Stevenson Spectrum.