Love had rooted itself in every fiber of my being.
Passion had become a vine in the deepest chambers of myself. I wondered, “how can I still
breathe with all of these ivies clinging to my soul?” My exhale caught me off guard.
“Go to the base of the tree. And lie down. Face your palms to the sky. Absorb the sunlight into
your melanin. Breathe deeply and feel the grass cradle your curves. Listen to the birds – their
song is one of faith and of hope, unseen. Allow your fingertips to dance across the rough bark of
its roots: each wave within those timbers reminds you of your own fragility. A fragility necessary
for tenderness and growth. Now close your eyes. Breathe, again. And again. Do you feel the
earth moving to the drum of your pulse? That’s life. That is love.”
It started to rain. And I didn’t mind. Or, move. I let the warmth of the water run over me. In that
moment, I felt like every single raindrop falling from the sky onto myself.
My mother always sang my name when she called me. But, today was different.
She could see it. Inside of me. Before I was even aware. I pretended to be preoccupied, so that
she would call again. I loved her song. But, she waited longer than usual.
“Yes, mother? I will be there in a few moments. Please wait.”
I needed a moment to gather my thoughts – they were spread about my room like opened books
in a small, dark bedroom. Desperately, I wanted to gather them into my wicker basket and sort
them out… into some recognizable manner.
“I’m sorry, Mum. I’m not feeling well today. Do you need me to help you with something?”
Suddenly, I felt lost again. I closed my eyes, before I took a deep breath.
“I’m sorry,” fell quietly from my lips.
“I love you. That is all. Oh… have you seen how beautiful Grandmother’s tree has blossomed
this spring? Isn’t it lovely?”
Inside of me, I felt the rain falling again. A feeling of fullness made me place one hand over my
belly with slight concern.
“Yes. Lovely, it is. Does it feel like a storm is coming to you? It feels like a storm is on its way,
I had seen a million mahogany sunsets. But, this one. This one had rippled through me like the
loudest crackle of thunder, I’d ever encountered.
“Can I touch you? I want to know what it feels like.”
“What what feels like?”
“To be strong and soft. You’re so beautiful.
Can I touch you, please? Just on your shoulders and neck? I promise that’s it.”
I let him touch me. His touch never meant much to me. Probably because he bored me. I don’t
think he ever felt pain. Or, knew what it meant to burn from the inside out of want.
We were in the pumpkin patch. The leaves were glistening with dew. There were droplets of
water on my skirt – kind of in the shape of a constellation. I wondered what love felt like without
gravity. Was it softer? Easier?
“Okay. Okay. That’s enough, let’s get back to work.”
It’s not that I wasn’t turned on by his gentle kisses. It’s just that, I wasn’t in love with him. I’d
never be. And that was okay with him. He knew. .
I looked into the blue, cotton-filled sky. I felt both of my palms sink a little deeper into the spongy
earth. I exhaled and felt my belly sink in slowly.
“What are we gonna say?”
“Say whatever you’d like. I’m not asking you to lie.”
Her knuckles fought hard with the dough. Flour dusted the entire wooden slab. In the window, a
sunflower had two tiny droplets on its pedals.
“Say… I don’t want anyone there. Not even you.”
A butterfly flew past the window where the flower rested, opened towards the sun.
“And that may be hard to understand. But, I need to do this alone. In private. I love you. I love
you all. I just want this one thing for myself.”
She wiped the sweat clinging to her chin, onto her right shoulder. She took a deep breath and
“Hand me that greased pan, will you? I’m going to let this sit for a while. It will rise, eventually.”
Sometimes, when old dogs feel that they are dying, they will wander away to die alone. Death
without an audience sounds more dignified, to me, so I thought.
I wasn’t so much afraid of dying, as I was of living.
There was a time, once, when I was young. We all went swimming. And I was afraid. Afraid of
the water, I couldn’t see into it because it was murky. And afraid of the swing people were using
And it’s not that I was fearful of heights. No. I was afraid of the joy I saw on their faces. I didn’t
want to ever miss that moment, where joy takes over your being and swallows you up like the
light from the sun, when you dare to stare directly at it. If I couldn’t feel that warmth forever, I
didn’t want it at all.
Ivory Bennett (she/her) is a 30-year-old published millennial currently working in Dallas, Texas. She is a former foster youth with 17 years of lived experience. Ivory also has Type 1 Diabetes (also known as Juvenile Diabetes) – a motivating factor behind her passion for the healing potential and power of art, especially writing. She credits art, a love of learning, and a passion for literacy to her success. Ivory has a Bachelor of Arts dual degree from The University of Pittsburgh in Africana Studies and English Literature with a minor in Theatre Arts (Performance). She also has a Master of Education Administration. She is an aspiring Doctoral student. Currently, she is a dual-accredited English teacher and cheer coach at a Title 1 Collegiate Academy. Outside of work, she has a strong commitment to education equity and foster care advocacy. Ivory loves to travel internationally, try new vegan dishes, and tend to her plant-babies. Ivory eagerly awaits the arrival of her fiancé from Nigeria and their new Lhasa Apso puppy, Bella.