THE SONG          EXPANSES          ADD YOUR VOICE                  
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Chinaka Hodge
On Process

I was going to speak to an old friend from an honest place. To let fly some of my demons, to say love unabashedly, to unhide my face. I have been afraid to do this for some time, but my dreams are haunted by the things I am scared to admit in my waking life.

I tuck my anxiety under my stomach folds and step into the street, walking circles around my house, moving out of the paths of anyone I encounter. I always feel safest in the least company, anyway. I review in my head what I would say. How I would admit my faults. How I would be vulnerable.

This friend is practiced at standing me up. He did it again.

I start play on the song in the space I have carved out to weep. So, I was probably going to cry anyway. I think about the banshees screaming, my own. I think about the way in which rest is a window in to my frailest self, the one I say I want to know and protect. I keep that window closed. I keep fire close to weed and paper. I keep adding sugar at the end of the day. I walk circles around my work, daring me to do it. I bite down on my own teeth. My hunger comes in weak waves. I envy the speaker in the song, who at least finds sleep if he wakes to exhaustion. I swallow this lump in my throat. I know it well. I strike up a conversation with the mailman. I retreat into the smile I have prepared.