This ancient darkness twists
its way into my mind again, and
into my soul, like knotted
thorns braided around
barbed wire–their sharpness pricking,
drawing blood; my anguished
heart seeping and my mind
a tangled nest of brittle, dying vines.
The morning sun caressing my face
doesn’t scare the darkness.
My mind wraps and curls
around itself, swaddling melancholy
with an ache of tears. This sadness,
older than time, reaches
back to the beginnings,
stretches forward into eternity.
The warm mug
cradled in my hands
underscores the chill in my
heart. Lifting the cup
to my lips, steam kisses my
face with damp heat, the spicy-citrus
bergamot fills my nose
and I stare down into my own unknown
eyes reflected in the tea.
Tears drop from those eyes into the
mug, mingling with the tea, and I swallow my
salty sorrow with each sip.
Cling tight, he said, to the
sorrow that’s been given, and insist
that beauty still blooms
radiant from ashes.
©stephanie pepper, 2019