I remember hiking
My ex, my siblings, me
Dessert heat blaring loud against my skin
Unhappy mind reverberating upon itself
Endless echo of depression in the canyon
I walked clearly marked trails in mountains
I had no other clear markers in my life
My noisy mind has drowned out
Any conversation we had that day
But no wave of mental chaos
Can erase my recollection of the shell
My sister discovered
Former home of a creature now evacuated
Sister embodied innocence and joy and energy
Gently holding this discovery
Think pink beauty glittering in hazy sunstreams
My ex asked to see it
He meant well, always meant well
Rough careless hands pinched the beauty
Instant disintegration into sparkling bits
Dust added to canyon sand
An unearthed treasure reburied
I will never forget Sis’s face has it happened
Horrified sadness cascaded across innocent eyes
I should have shared her distress
I was that shell crushed between a man’s careless fingers
Her face showed me how horrifying that was
Beyond the Poem
This poem is about two different true stories. The first story is the surface story that we see here clearly marked in the poem. The second story is the underlying story about the chaos in my personal romantic life at the time that the experience happened and how it took a glance at the situation from the outside to really understand what was going on with me.
As far as the external surface story, it truly is an image that has stuck with me over the years. My unhappy ex and I used to go hiking frequently with my younger siblings. My sister is six years younger than me and even in her moments of depression seems to have a transcendent zest for life that has often eluded me. I envy it. And I am glad for her that she has it.
On this occasion, she had found this perfect shell and was like a little kid in her true excitement of how beautiful it was. She handed it to my ex carefully and he pinched it in his fingers accidentally, totally crushing it. To be honest, my brother and I laughed at the time. We weren’t laughing because sister was so devastated but because it was so expected for the ex to be so unintentionally careless with other people’s things. He was just kind of a rough-edged guy who meant well but failed a lot, a bull in a china shop kind of guy.
At the time, I was very unhappy and most of my time was spent inside my own head trying to sort out what was wrong in my life. Ultimately I would realize that the choices I was making in my relationships were crushing me. However, to reach that realization I would need to be able to get outside of my own head and into a space where I could empathize with other people. As the poem shows, I would need to see the horror on my sister’s face before I could actually feel the horror of my own situation.