I am the panic attack that upended your entire life. I am the storm you could never remember seeing but always felt. I am removing this identity from you like I have many times before. I am going to grow in you yet a new one as I have always done before. I am not separate from the thing that comforts you. I am not separate from the thing that destroys you. I am the storm cloud and the clear blue sky. I am the waters you have and always will be in. I am . . . you.
It is the quickening of the heart, the stifling of the lungs, the burning of the flesh, the feel of impending death. It is the smell of a Marlboro-tinged vegan dinner. It is her laughter back in 1994 as she held fresh-out-of-the-oven cookie sheets onto my bare arms. It is past memories felt in my body so vividly I can’t stop it no matter how much I mask it. It is not known or shown to anyone else. It is solitary panic. It is happening in the only place I ever feel like I belong, where I feel warmth, and strangely always feel a sense of calm. It is a blank stage with endless possibilities. It is the place I feel okay to be touched, to be seen, to be heard. It is the only body of water where when I jump into it to swim, my legs become a tail and I can breathe just fine. It is a big lake full of others swimming around and around. It is eternal faith. It is eons of energy flowing around through waves and currents creating and destroying worlds created by words made manifest if only for a brief time. It is the water that silences the darkest intrusive thoughts in me.
You are intruding into my waters. You are flowing through uninvited. You are the whirlpool scraping off my tail’s scales, causing them to dissolve into the gray current till only legs remain. You are split-screening my brain into what has been and what is now like a swell over a lake where one side is bright blue sky and the other is a dark cloud of destruction. You are filling my breath with water. You are freaking me out. You are not seen by anyone else. You are me then and me now. You are in me. You are not to be trusted anymore. You are not letting me go no matter how much I ignore you. You are not letting me go no matter how much I cling to you. You are the waters I used to take refuge in. You are all those swimming around me and through me. You are neither created nor destroyed. You are giving me the chance to swim. You are also drowning me.
Thou art the revelation. Thou art the breakdown in the rain. Thou art the stripper of whatever was left of my identity. Thou art the gale-forced winds that pushed me out. Thou art my history I threw to the side hoping never to be bothered with again. Thou art taking over every neutron of my being. Thou art the pain my inner child sobbed. Thou art the balm used to comfort her. Thou art the art I hoped too much in. Thou art trust. Thou art the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen. Thou art the only way I wanted others to know me. Thou art the only way I knew me.
- Invocation to the Night I Drowned - April 4, 2019