The heaviness in your heart is not for the world to see, yet who to share it with, but the world? Who to cling to but the unknown, the unfamiliar? Love can heal, they say, but what if love is not enough? What if the hurt you carry has spilled one too many times and now it simply stinks to the ones close by?

Like a stagnant pool, heavy with years of algae and trash, no one comes here except by mistake, those familiar with these parts take the longer route home, hidden behind harsh and hasty words. Only strangers may see these waters now, only unfamiliar eyes. What do you do, love? Drown in your own stink? Drown in the familiar comfort of silt and mud and green, green depths, the cool embrace of the moss, carrying the wisdom of a million years. The moss endured so much, it will endure you.

Drown then, love, sleep. Maybe the unsuspecting stranger will hear your marshy song and mistake it for a breeze in the woods. The familiar has long learned to shun you. Wait, then, for the trap to open, for the unfamiliar mouse to scurry in, and then, the teeth clamp shut.

The accompanying image is Green River by Jongmin Ahn.

2 thoughts on “Unfamiliar”

  1. I was reading this again today (I read it first on the day you posted), and thought, what if someone familiar with algae and trash does not run home? What if she stays for a while?
    I remembered a quote from The West Wing (2000) s2e10. Here it is:

    “This guy’s walking down the street when he falls in a hole. The walls are so steep he can’t get out.”A doctor passes by and the guy shouts up, ‘Hey you. Can you help me out?’ The doctor writes a prescription, throws it down in the hole and moves on.”Then a priest comes along and the guy shouts up, ‘Father, I’m down in this hole can you help me out?’ The priest writes out a prayer, throws it down in the hole and moves on”Then a friend walks by, ‘Hey, Joe, it’s me can you help me out?’ And the friend jumps in the hole. Our guy says, ‘Are you stupid? Now we’re both down here.’ The friend says, ‘Yeah, but I’ve been down here before and I know the way out.’”

    P.S. : you know at least one person who is familiar with the algae and trash and may not mind the stink when the time comes.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thank you for these kind words. Yes, I do know a few like that. By the way, will definitely check out West Wing when I have the time, that’s a solid recommendation!


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