Literature The Travel Issue

Poem: Above it all

You walk, you walk into the sun and simmer for a few heartbeats, a second into a minute.
You’re stuck in bed, sinking into the mattress. Courtesy.

Six feet under

You’re stuck in bed, sinking into the mattress,

wrapped in sheets six feet under a pile of shirts because you couldn’t find the one shirt that’s thick enough to hide and shelter your scars and open wounds.

Lost in thoughts, some are light and some are heavy,

you hold your breath and peek from under the covers at the stacks of books accumulating on a desk, covered with scattered notes and papers.

And you wonder, you wonder if today’s any different,

you wonder if today you could get some work done.

But it’s so, so dark in here,

because you’ve unscrewed all the light bulbs and you can’t even bear the thought of letting any daylight in.

The blinds have been taped shut to the wall since September

and today’s the 31st of December.

You hear whispers from outside your door … ‘should we…’

One knock, two knocks … three knocks…

This time, three’s not a charm and there’s a voice pleading behind a locked wooden door…

‘You’ve gotta get up, walk out and let the light in.’

And you can’t, you can’t let the thought of kicking off the blanket sink in, take over.

So you respond with weakened, rusty vocal chords the lie you’ve been telling yourself over and over again, ‘I’m okay, I’m sleeping.’

You’ve gotten so used to your voice, talking yourself through the night with an audience of threads and throws, listening so closely and soaking you all in.

The warmth took you in and stayed by your bedside enabling your addiction to the emptiness.

And that’s an illusion, that this suffocating embrace is comfort, because it’ll always and forever be an escape from a dazzling truth.

The rise

An awakening draws you into the dream you’ve been retracing in your nights; into a dream flooded with light.

Then there’s the wind once you’re out in the wilderness and you tremble, shiver and scatter,

as though the storms have taken over your entire existence and left you with nothing but fragile skin.

Breathing becomes a struggle and your lungs lap up in half-hearted beats.

Breathe, breathe … Inhale, exhale … Expand, collapse.

And you’ve never missed the comfort of your bed more, so

soft and welcoming

an object made of synthetics, trees and threads can make you feel so carried away.

And it hits you right across the face,

like glass-shattered realities you built

and a reckoning you long forgot existed,

that the bed knew you better than anyone else ever could,

and the dark held you closer than any light ever did,

but you never let any light in,

did you?

You walk, you walk into the sun and simmer for a few heartbeats, a second into a minute.

You take it in, swallow the light up and walk on.

This time, it’s not just the storms taking over, you start to feel the winds twirling around you into a loving embrace.

You let out a breath and lift your chin up to the sky and let the glow of a flaming star take you in, seeping through every cell. Your body regenerates and heals again.

There in the distance you can see the light you once thought brought you pain, the light that caused your eyes to stutter and close shut

turned into the breath of life your lungs caved and craved to breathe.

And it hits you again,

that the ground, however hard,

will hold your weight and absorb the fear falling off your stuttering lashes and the force of trembling sobs are nothing to it,

but toddler steps.

You drop to your knees, hands caressing the warm earth,

and beneath your fingertips lie the structures and scars of concrete,

and you feel the vibrations of thousands, millions of footsteps tracing away of people carrying their weights around, while car engines roar and rev noise into the insides of your mind.

You realize that it’s always been the ground that longed for you the most, and not as a corpse holding itself wrapped in white cloth six feet under.

But as a glowing form of the sun walking its surface looking up at the skies to see hope, faith, wishes and wisdom tumbling down from clouds, sheltering your fragile skin from hurt,

settling you into the shine and glory of a sword coated in yellow gold.

Six feet above it all

Now tell me,

Do you feel it?

That mind altering, hypnotizing relief to know that something as hard and rigid as the ground carries your weight.

Is there anything out there as glorious as the love of earth itself?

Listen closely. The earth speaks.

It will take you under its shade, teach you the language of endurance and kindness.

You’ll find the beliefs you had about staying in bed all day evaporating.

The light’s always been too much and not enough to feel,

but love, you belong in the embrace of the light.

Let it in.

Come back to life, back to living six feet above it all.

Sarah Al Nuaimi is a 23- year-old Emirati creator of worlds, Untitled Chapters member, and student of engineering.  She writes about replacement cities and mental health. To view more of her writing, follow her on Instagram, @_s.a.n___ .