To My Sister and My Brother (in-law), On Your Happiest Day (yet)

Preface:

The privilege of witnessing a love like this has been my heartfelt honour. I post this speech, the one I gave on their day, with their full consent.

I hope that when you find your own love, you will know.

I trust you will.


I am feeling so many emotions right now, but within this immense happiness, I am also feeling very lucky to be the youngest of so many loving sisters.

In particular, I have been blessed to have shared a wealth of experiences with Thuy. Together we’ve climbed the most reverent mountains and jumped into limitless skies. Imagine stretching as far as you possibly can and realising that the sky was not the limit. And never was. Skydiving with Thuy was like holding the impossible. Such moments in life, are truly, exceptional.

Those of us who are privileged with loving Thuy and being loved by Thuy, know that there exists a kind of love that is more than an absence of something like fear or doubt, and more than simply the addition of something, like warmth or safety. Instead it is the kind of love that forces you to redefine your limits of expression. It is expansive. Much like the universe.

So if you imagine the planets and stars as happiness, joy, support, and so on, and the vacuum between as space cleared to highlight those things that make life beautiful, you get fairly close.

But exceptional love, isn’t adding up the planets and the stars and subtracting the dust. It is the very fabric on which the universe exists. It is the landscape to the architecture we build. By default, everything we are becomes a narrative told within this fabric, this space. And exceptional love is the kind of space that is always expanding, equipping you and inspiring you to design your stars, together.

Since I was little, Thuy has always inspired my understanding of the world to expand into new dimensions. From the strength of your reach, the depth of your person, the heights you can climb and the volume of your voice, my navigation through life has been underscored by a sisterly love so encompassing and so generous, it is always larger than yesterday.

Thuy is my biggest cheerleader. There for me in the worst of times, and the inspiration behind the best of times.

So when Thuy met David, I felt like I kind of met David too. In the way that sisters talk about what happens on dates.

And then, I actually met David. I remember thinking how quiet he was. But in retrospect it was probably because I was nervous and talking an absurd amount. But David will do that. Listen to you with the most generous ear, even when you’re not saying much at all. And the more I get to know David, the more I know he is the kind of person who does not simply possess qualities. He isn’t a vessel in which kindness is carried and from which it is expressed, rather kindness forms and is cultivated from somewhere within. And that is much rarer.

Thuy says David gives the best compliments. You might be tempted to say it’s easy when it’s Thuy he’s complimenting after all. I think the best compliments are genuine and precise. And I think David is meticulous and thoughtful in such an admirable way that can only manifest itself as the pervasive support integral to love.

I know, however, that Thuy and David’s love for each other can only be defined by their own dimensions. It seems that everything they do stems from an internal, conscientious choice that is then expressed. And they do so, consistently, and generously.

Everyone, these are two, exceptional people, and as is often the case with exceptional people, their love is just so.

Thuy, David, I wish for you always, a beautiful, limitless sky. I know your story will be exceptional.

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You Are Cardinal to Me

Last night I dreamt of you

And my heart enlarged to twice its normal size

My chestward lump protruding

My eyes soaked in salt and sadness
In it I had gone away

And in it you had stayed

I had other things in mind

When you had passed away
I worried, wearied over smaller things

But you, the smallest in my mind, were largely left untouched

I left you for safekeeping in the arms of memory

Oh what a mistake, to trust such temporary means
You are the reason softness learned to grow

Why rivers learned to caress the earth

You season sunshine with your laughter

And my heart would sing when I held you
Beneath your arms, against your curious heart

You are cardinal to me, my lighthouse in the fog

You are the warmth I learned to hold flush against my chest

The love I nurtured from your beginning
When I returned, it was too late

After all, you had not stayed

And after all, I had not gone away

My Hopes for You, my Love

I hope that life,

like a grand circus finale,

catches you,

at the moment you waver off kilter, teetering on the edge of

certainty

as the wind picks up momentum

and the distance to the

ground

grows brave.

I hope you find a foothold.

I hope your limbs are sure and strong and lively enough to stopper falls too deep.

I hope your soul accommodates caverns

vast enough for thoughts like these.

I hope you adopt a stomach for the edges

and learn that digestion of adrenaline is an artful skill to have,

but I hope that nonetheless,

the wind does less

than force imperviousness,

and more to free

the looser ends of yours,

your hair,

your eyelashes,

and your smile.

And I hope,

that I will be there,

awaiting with applause.

Holding On

Trees shed their leaves much like our hands have fallen

To our sides

With no intention of holding on.

We both continue,

Our conversation sliced by colder knives,

It turns stale in this autumn air

And forms a softer crust

Of leaves

Beneath our feet

And in the corners of our eyes

The ones we use to quickly look away

To blink away

What we wanted to have seen —

More than we had been

And less of what would be

The night gathers cold

And I no longer hold on.

Welcome to my Blog: A Six-Part Story Involving Several Minor Crimes and the Cultivation of the Greatest Love of my Life

Part One: The Unveiling

I remember, vividly, how my oldest sister bought me a novel when I was eight. Up until then I regarded books with spines as something sacred for adults, more so, if their covers were not illustrated in primary colours and their pages contained no pictures, you probably needed a license to read them. I had copiously read picture books; mostly fiction, some ‘educational’, even a pictorial atlas and an illustrated dictionary, but never a novel. You are possibly thinking that I must have been a rather strange child to have been reading a dictionary, and I suppose you wouldn’t be wrong.

 

Part Two: The Epiphany

I spent the next week engrossed. I didn’t pay attention in class. But owing to the fact that my teacher was on maternity leave, I had no allegiance to the series of inconstant substitutes who tried to replace her anyhow. I read on the bus. And I’d secretly cherish every single delay because it meant another moment of uninterrupted reading. I stayed up as late as possible and then found refuge under my blanket with a torch. It was the first time I knowingly got myself into trouble staying up past my bedtime because I had decided the rewards far outweighed the risks. My parents punished me in a myriad of ways, but they were all bearable if I still got to read. And they weren’t bad parents for punishing my reading habits, they just wanted me to also eat and sleep and do other necessary things. But I had to keep reading. I just couldn’t believe what I’d been missing out on. I felt like my world had multiplied in its vastness and I was so excited about everything that could possibly be. It was a singular experience and I treasure that novel and everything it gave me, but really, it wasn’t just a novel my sister had given me, it was a license to imagine.

 

Part Three: The Dark Side

Next came a series of devious actions resting on questionable morals: I became a library monitor at school so I could manipulate the system. I was waging war with library rules.

 

  1. We could only borrow two books at a time.
  2. Books were due after two weeks’ time.
  3. You could only reserve one book at a time.

 

I was easily reading two books a week, i.e. falling in love twice a week and I was determined to get my hands on as many as possible which would have been fine, you’d think, if I had just returned books as soon as I’d read them. But that would be unspeakable! Each reading was forming a bond with the words in my hands and I could hardly bear the thought of giving up a firstborn, firstly because I was not a mother, but an eight year child, and secondly, because every book I loved was precious. I wanted them all with the hungry greediness of obsession.

 

So when I became a library monitor — which was easy because I was an overachiever and persuasive with teachers, I wroughted the system. I deactivated the books that I wanted, affectionately rubbing the magnetic strips like a comic book villain and would take as many as I wanted. But I convinced myself that I was still a good child — reading was a noble thing and I wasn’t going to take them for good, and indeed I always brought them back, just a little late. And I tried to be considerate — I knew which ones were popular and made sure they were returned first. I just wanted to hold onto the ones that I loved for a little while longer. I wanted to reread my favourite parts out loud and wanted to hold the words against my chest as I slept. And I had to fuel this new addiction somehow. In all honesty, I think it worked out rather well.

 

When new books were accepted into the library, I had first dibs. I put more than one book on hold for myself, and several others I wanted under fake names. Once, I saw the librarian override an overdue book status with a pin and I remembered the combination. I hid books.

 

But I also recommended to others. THIS ONE IS AH-MAY-ZINGGG! Younger me would bellow. Many of us would spend lunchtimes reading (when we weren’t playing downball or tiggy) and we got a little bit aggressive.

 

Have you read all the Geronimo Stiltons yet?

I can’t believe you haven’t read The Gizmo yet!

I finished that in three days, how many days did it take you?

 

Part Four: The Writers

Somewhere along the lines I discovered that books could make me cry. Books had introduced me to new dimensions with fantasy. I had read Eion Colfer and Isobelle Carmody but I hadn’t before considered that books were also vessels for our deepest longings. I read tragedy and prized the tears that stained the pages. I was moved, and continue to be moved by books of astounding sensitivity. There are human stories folded within literature and I realised that the writers of books were whole human beings. I was reading the echoes of their hearts and their loosely disguised desires. I learned to be gentle.

 

This nicely coincided with authors visiting my school. I thought them the world.

 

Part Five: The Intermittent Years

I continued to read every day of my life, refining my tastes and always finding something surprising. I remember cackling as I read Douglas Adams for the first time and redefining the concept of ‘great book’. I fell into deeper love when I discovered Jane Austen and into my deepest love yet when I discovered poetry.

 

Part Six: The Beginning

Then I realised I could write.

 

Welcome to my blog.

Loving in Cold Weather

Soft skinned and bubbly, child,

You are fresh faced and beautiful

I want to hold you in safer arms and whisper sunny thoughts

You should not be in storms like these

These days of grey and choicelessness

We stay inside to help ourselves

Acquaint ourselves to biscuits, tea and knitted throws

It’s not all bad

Sandwiching yourself between soft things

And in all honesty I want to

Sandwich you in my arms two

No matter how hard they start to ache

Like longings unfulfilled,

Dreams left between the pillowcase and coverlet

Fresh faced with bones unfused

Unready for the wilderness outside.

I’m learning and you’re still learning

Oh we’re learning to translate the howls of wind

Back into its desperate kisses

Learning how to love the bite of winter and the frost

Untamed but limitless

It’s beautiful

Little One

You were falling on your feet

Unmoulded by the caress of shoes

Soft to touch and touching softly

So small and so determined

Playtime was an art you never had to learn

Coffee tables, roller coasters

As your little feet would churn

Unpredictable and unafraid

You wore a new cape, trailblazing

With curious eyes and open heart

Strengthened by the unconditional

And you had plenty of things to say

With words of your own making

And laughter of your own

Like chasing bubbles in the sunshine

Or eating strawberries for the first time

Inquisitive in the light of new

Textures and tastes, the world had to be

Rearranged with smaller hands

In order to detect the phenomenon of fun

You are acquainted in deft measurements

Of the imprecise arm waving gestures

Followed by cries of affirmation:

This is what I like.

My reply:

I love you too.

 


For A, today, but also for always.

Skype

It is not the lapse of time

But the intensity of feeling that defines

You and I

Nor is the proximity

At which we exchange

Our accented vowels a measure

For I need not taste your breath

To know your closeness.

Rather

It is the way your image illuminates my screen –

Your pixelated person

Lit

By the familiar light of far away

Inducing high contrast brightness

That insists:

Darkness is the absence of

You.

As published in Monash Creative Writers’ biannual anthology, Incisors & Grinders, the little book of love and recovery 2016 edition

A Two Person Poem

Her lashes bow towards her cheeks

Holding things too lost for words

Whistle, wine and waiter – irrelevant

Life, name, all history making way for

Taste

Consumed it is trapped

A tantalising Warm

form of love that must

have just been stirred

It simmers in her soul

Effervescence of her bloodlines

Fumes of the experience industry

Diffuse

Pupils re-emerge,

Vision floats to surface,

When eyes lock.

And indeed her eyes are locked –

Out of a world so large and mysterious

that she cannot but retreat into the instant

To take solace in the second

Lost and gone forever she finds herself

Reflected in the eyes across the table

That ask, “Can I try some?”

Written in collaboration with J Bloom. Feature image is a draft handwritten by your local Lebenskrafter.