Lessons the Color of Dust and Rain

How do I explain why we are here? From day one the Canyon seemed expansive. Expansive and rude and entirely too uninviting to really belong to those principles with any intent other than throwing us off his scent. In the morning the sun rolls across lungs such a deep shade of blue you would think he hadn’t taken a breath all night long. The yellow hues that smudge around those deepened edges make you believe that hope is the color of the clouds found halfway between 5 and 6 AM. I hope you always wake up for that canvas without the help of an alarm.

When I saw him, I knew that God is real, she said. She said with glistening eyes and a voice dripping with the knowledge of what it is like to feel as empty and dry as this Canyon. This Canyon will save so many, so many, so many who walk around like they carry their own tombstones strapped to their backs. There is freedom in closed eyes and gusts of wind and just too close to the edge and choosing only to look forward instead of down. You’ve got a whole lot of forward coming at you and I guarantee it will knock you flat off your feet onto the softest rock you’ve ever felt in your life. It’s okay if you want to lie there, sleeping, forever.

Have you ever been so alone your own voice startled you? Have you ever heard your questions echo off walls of limestone, coming back to you two shades lighter than you expected, and that’s how you knew that this is the place you leave your molting shell behind? Come out from that cave you’ve been hiding in, your skin needn’t be so tough anymore. You’ve got hieroglyphic sonnets written behind your eyes just waiting to be read.

Wear that dust like Cleopatra wore her mascara, boast your wild mane like the Trembling Giant boasts it’s branches, keep your boots loose enough for your toes to wiggle, and know that the eyes of the Colorado River weep 18,700 cubic meters of feeling per second. You are not weak for leaving tracks of salt down your beautiful, sun-worn face. God made cacti and rattlesnakes with just as much pride as He made tulips and butterflies, some are meant to be threatening before they are loved, you are loved even when you are not whole.

It’s an uphill battle.

It’s an uphill walk.

It’s an uphill dance.

Every time you ascend his folds of rocky soul remember that you are defying the boundaries of physics they trapped you in when they coined the word “gravity”. The only gravity worth listening to is the pull of one human hand to another. Let love be love, let love be your Shoshone sunset, let love be the water spigot after that 7-mile desert stretch. The deeper you go the better it gets.

Don’t be afraid to be the sandstorm that rages against the niceties of commercialized happiness. If you’re going to be alive, you might as well be rim-to-rim alive. You might as well be call-NPS-if-I’m-not-back-in-two-days alive. You might as well be watercolors and guitar strings and stolen breakfasts and inside jokes alive. Doubt is not the end of the trail, it is just a compass and a cairn and a moment of panic and proving that you know how to navigate the rockslides of this life.

You are you; complicated violet beautiful you. And this Canyon is a stray bullet. Be you even when he pierces you through and through. Be you even when he strikes you right through the heart. Only in total abandon will you find that peace you are looking for. I think it looks a lot like an afternoon storm. We always sleep better when it’s raining, don’t we?

 

You and the Sea and the Sun

It seems that all of my life
Has been dictated by how much
I am able to do in the shortest amount of time.
Except for that weekend with you and the sea and the sun.

It seems that all of my smiles
Have depended on how successful I feel
And how necessary I feel to the world.
Except for that weekend with you and the sea and the sun.

It seems that every time I have tipped the bottle back
I have regretted the spots in my backwards vision,
Drowning my emotion in somebody else’s brew.
Except for that weekend with you and the sea and the sun.

It seems that I have been trained to cover up,
That body is bad and skin is sin and naked is never,
To be bare is to be brazen is to be ugly.
Except for that weekend with you and the sea and the sun.

It seems that I fly forward without regretting any
Of the places and people I have left behind
In my quest for life and liberty and meaning,
Except for that weekend with you and the sea and the sun.

It seems that all my memories are fading
Even now my nose cannot recreate your soap
And my eyes forget the dirt and grass growing in yours.
Except for that weekend with you and the sea and the sun.

It seems that I have lost a great deal to the word hurry
I have avoided living at the promise of securing a good life
Handing over the copyrights of my life to the clock.
Except for that weekend with you and the sea and the sun.

What am I?

What am I?
But a mirage
Sun reflected in dust, dust reflected in mortality
I will be alive before
Before, before,
There is no meaning to the end
That cannot be found in the beginning
Time jingles with keys
Cannot be stopped
Hands unlocking cages unlocking endings locking The End
And I am still shivering dust
Absorbing rain
That never comes in time.
Let me flicker.

Things That ‘Did Not’ This Week

Her teeth white and painful and fake

My X-Ray the fuel for her finessed façade of interest

“You nearly fractured your elbow,” she says

But I didn’t

“All the damage is here except for an actual fracture,” she says

But I didn’t

“You should have paid attention to your body,” she says

But I didn’t

“You should have listened to the pain, come in sooner,” she says

But I didn’t

“You should feel very lucky,” she says

But I didn’t.

 

 

You sit in front of me with your despair dripping like melting ice cream

The need outweighs the discomfort found in every pause

“I wanted to,” you say

But you didn’t

“They say I am at risk,” you say

But you didn’t

“It’s heavy, it’s everywhere, I feel like I’m drowning in it,” you say

But you didn’t

“I want to end all of it,” you say

But you didn’t.

 

 

3:00 AM wears thin on my ceiling as I stare up into the morning darkness

The paint of that hour dries faster than my eyes drift to sleep

“You could choose stay,” I say

But I didn’t

“It would be safe, you should feel safe there,” I say

But I didn’t

“You could have found a boring, beautiful happiness,” I say

But I didn’t

“Don’t run away, just this once,” I say

But I didn’t.

 

 

God makes His plans known to his people by blowing kisses through gusts of wind

He sits in a tall tree above an empty wooden swing

“You could write beautiful things instead of sad things,” He says

But she didn’t

“Listen, the world is asking for you, don’t you want them?” He says

But she didn’t

“If you left Me, the whole world would applaud you,” He says

But she didn’t

“I think your sad things are also your beautiful things,” He says

But she didn’t.

 

 

what are you running away from?

 

what are you running away from, child?

what are you running away from when you sleep with your windows open no matter the cost of temperature, no matter the ease with which bad men could make their way up those walls, no matter the wings that fly in to lose their life to the light?

what is it about that breeze that keeps your stir crazy self sane, that breeze that makes you tame your mane instead of letting it fall dirty and matted and free around your shoulders, that breeze that makes you breathe with your eyes closed?

aren’t you afraid you might fly away with it?

or perhaps you already have, and you keep those windows open in hopes you will one day return.

I know you’ve spent long days with your head hanging over the edge of the bed, eyes half open, heart fully broken, trying to believe that there are no whispers on the wind telling you to go.

what are you running away from when you sneak out of crowds when the lights go down and the voices are loud so your friends don’t notice your absence the way they notice the trees when they first start to bud?

what are you running away from when you pray to wake up invisible?

and God, how do you answer Him?

He sees you running from miles away and yet He stays, He stays where He knows you will stop when you are ready to talk and He waits with the diligence of a marble Roman statue.

and what is your excuse?

who made it so you cannot even open your mouth to scream “Why?” when He tries to reach out His arms to you, but rather you stand, brimming with boiling waterfalls, shaking your head in distrust as you turn away to start running again.

where is the start of your damage?

what made the first break in your mind?

I’ve found my freedom at the top of mountains too tall for demons to climb, but what goes up must come down, and I always came down.

it seems that now, I’ve stayed.

I was trained far more in cross country than in combat so when the mistakes I have made and the men who have made me mute and the demons who don’t dare stop their destruction finally catch up to me, I look for my open window instead of my weapon. and I run.

I am tired of walking the plank just because my vessel has the potential to turn from ship to shipwreck.

I am tired of calling it quits at the hint of connection.

I am tired of feeling guilt at the thought of resurrection.

but this life seems to spin too fast for my liking sometimes so I run to keep up, or to out last, or to not be left behind.

running away is what I do best

it’s what I do instead of being the lady that doth protest

but I’m tired of keeping my mouth shut and my lungs over capacity, I want to turn my forward motion into forward tenacity

I want to see the roses bloom where I plant them

 

you can stop running anytime, love, anytime.

the wind still blows even when your window is not open to feel it.

don’t believe what they say about once a goner, always a goner; the Lord will you meet you where your legs stop working and He will carry you to the finish line, stroking your hair all the while.

there is kindness the color of glaciers and hope as important as bees, they will rest upon you once you start growing, so start growing and stop running and know that your feet deserve a rest just as much as your mind does.

stop running and start growing:

you’ll find that your soles know how to take root, and how to take root quickly, you’ll find that your shoulders are mountains in themselves and your waist is small enough to slip through the cracks in their armor.

your hair is South Dakota wheat waving in the wind and your voice is the wind in itself.

your spine cracks like the trees and grows even taller and your ribs have the stars trapped between them.

just stop, take a break, take a rest, take a breather, take enough time to photosynthesize into a reminder that you are more terrifying that the things that chase you.

you’ll find that they might stop dead in their tracks once you do too.

Lyrics to Let Me Be Your Sun/Let Me Be Your Moon

I was out picking flowers

I had no concern for the hours

I had no concern for the time I was given

I had yet to realize I wasn’t quite living

 

So much life all around me

The bees and the trees were abounding

Nothing was painful but nothing was daring

But then I saw you and was quickly comparing the night to every day

The night to every day

 

And I sang:

 

Ooh, O Dark you

Ooh, such a deeper view

Ooh

Let me be your sun

Let me be your sun

Let me be your sun

 

Ooh, I’ve been waiting for you

Ooh, I will see this through

Ooh

Let me be your sun

Let me be your sun

Let me be your sun

 

 

You stayed there in the shadows

They all said you’d came from the gallows

but all I could notice was how you would smile

When I would sing just to make you stay there for a while

Please stay for a while

 

One day you walked towards me

I wasn’t scared or abhorring

Cause those who know death well know life all the more

And those who know neither I find to be quite the bore compared to you

All bore compared to you

 

And she sang:

 

Ooh, O Dark you

Ooh, such a deeper view

Ooh

Let me be your sun

Let me be your sun

Let me be your sun

 

Ooh, I’ve been waiting for you

Ooh, I will see this through

Ooh

Let me be your sun

Let me be your sun

Let me be your sun

 

 

Ooh He walked towards her, he walked towards her, he walked towards

Ooh he did adore her, he did adore her, he did adore her

 

I heard your song from below

And somehow knew where to go

Above to the land where no one wants to see me

I’d all but lost hope but in you I found meaning

 

How could someone like her love me?

The thought alone was astounding

So I took what I was given, was enough just to listen

I didn’t need much, just to have what was missing one day

I only needed one day

 

But then your eyes looked towards me

They weren’t scared or abhorring

So I came back here as long as I could

Just to listen and finally believe in good

Who knew I could, you’re` good, who knew I could

 

And he said:

 

Ooh, then I took your hand

Ooh, I know my past is black

Ooh

Let me be your moon

Let me be your moon

Let me be your moon

 

Ooh, though I come from darker lands

Ooh, I swear I’m a better man

Ooh

Let me be your moon

Let me be your moon

Let me be your moon

 

cancelled contract

he is growing inside of me even as you stare and search for new cracks in my surface

even as you watch with a wary eye for the weakening of my worn heart

even as you say your hands are out to catch me when I fall

even when I see your hands are shaking

 

he is growing and I am growing with him and I will not need your hands anymore

 

I know you do not know how to love me without needing a toolbox

burn that manual that was stained with my tears and creased beneath your hands before they began to shake

throw away those nails you used to pound into my skin telling me that the blood was painful but necessary, that the healing would come in time

bury those hammers in the back yard

those hammers you would hand out to the team of healers you recruited in my honor

those hammers that blocked the light enough for me to realize there even was light I had been missing

those hammers I tried to throw right back at you

give that wrench to someone else, to someone who is still in pieces, to someone who has yet to become a home for anything other than pain

break in half that staple gun I would press to my own skin just to show you that I felt no pain, just to show you that I was stronger than anyone else, just to show you that I was so empty, just to show you there would be no blood

squeeze out all that glue you used to bathe me in when I came home at the end of night with my own body scattered between my own arms, the glue you said would keep me together long enough for morning to come

burn those tarps you and the team would wrap my body in as I lay shivering on the floor

 

I am no longer a house for you to reconstruct

I no longer have a demolition wish for myself

I stand on the top of a crane called faith and I have no fear

though the wind blow and tempt me to fall into it’s cradling, lying arms, I stand firmly rooted, a million miles above the collapsed shack I used to be

and I shout “I am no building but the forest they want to chop down for wood!”

and I shout “I am no system of pipes but the rushing river they cannot tame!”

and I shout “I am no mess of wire but the electric shiver the earth feels when the lighting kisses her cheek!”

he is growing and I am growing with him and I have long since surpassed the cage I used to need to stay alive

he is growing and I am growing with him

he is growing and I am growing

he is growing

he is

You are Good with a Capital G

I’ve been writing a lot of music lately. I’ve been writing a lot of music and it’s all been sounding like nothing. I’ve been writing a lot of music about mountains and God and girls who don’t eat and nothing I lay beneath my fingers or behind my lungs seems to hold enough talent or depth or whatever you want to call it to be something worth listening to.

 

That’s been my problem for most of my life; being something worth listening to. Even today as I talk to my new friends and message my old friends, I find that my stories are led with a question and followed with an apology, I find that my mouth falls shut more than it falls open, I find that I lose a lot of words inside my head than out in the open air. And even then, there are very few people I trust enough to sit in silence with, without feeling the need to put something, anything, no matter how pointless into the air between us. There is just air between us.

 

This time it’s not a language barrier thing; it’s a people barrier thing. It’s my music sounding the same day after day and all the words I write sounding too much like 14 year olds listening to Panic! At The Disco. Is it wrong of me to want to write like a 27 year old listening to Grieg or a 65 year old listening to Radiohead? Don’t get me wrong, P!ATD got us all through a lot of our years, but I’m tired of being blonde and black at the same time and I’m tired of people mistaking my angst for youthfulness. I’m tired of keeping my mouth shut. But when I do open it to scream, I find that most of the time nothing comes out in time for anyone to stay long enough and if something does, it sounds a little too much like Lewis Carroll’s “Jabberwocky” to make anyone believe I am serious.

 

If I come home to find someone has shut my window while I was at school, I am afraid that the good spirits have already left after getting tired of knocking on the glass pane all afternoon long.

 

Maybe the music thing is that I am living too much here to have time to process what it has meant to be alive, maybe the music thing is my ears are too busy hearing a new continent to want to hear myself, maybe the music thing is I am much more empty than I thought. Or maybe I am enjoying being full for the first time in my life.

 

All I know is that I’ve heard a lot of laughter here that I want to remain belonging to the atmosphere instead of trying to trap it inside my piano strings. I’ve got notebooks full of scribbles and Word documents full of lines that rhyme, but nothing inside my mind seems fine enough to line up in front of you saying “Listen, this is mine.”

 

I wonder what it felt like to be David writing the Psalms, I wonder if “Divine Inspiration” leaves room for creative liberty and expression, or if the pen God held to David’s head felt more full of lead than ink. I’d like to think that God wasn’t exactly expecting the profound amount of anguish and sorrow that David put into the Psalms, but when He read them He found favor upon His creation because he saw that David’s sadness was good.

If you’re reading this, I hope you’re sadness is good, too. I hope you understand why the word “death” is feminine in Spanish and I hope that you have periods of time when whatever art you make stops coming to you and you have to take the energy to figure out why. Please don’t become complacent in your goodness, because things change and people change and you will sometimes have to rock yourself to sleep at night. You are good, with a capital G and even zeroes for O’s if you want, G00D. You are good and you deserve to eat ice cream at 10 in the morning and you deserve to know that even though God gave him the pen, David got to choose whether or not he put it to paper and started writing. Please choose to start writing, even if its just scribbles in a notebook or lines on a word document, please choose to start writing. You are something worth reading.

 

-HA

The Sea Will Rise

The Sea Will Rise

lyrics by Hannah Asfeldt

 

The world is howling and there is no light around. The wild storm magnifies the lack of hope that’s found.
Our cries distinguished not in wind that never ceases. For if we give up hope we’ll surely fall to pieces.

There is no submission in eyes made of mirrors
Lungs that hold their breathe will soon turn to glass

The sea will rise, the sea will rise, the sea will rise but we will not sink
Because in your eyes, in your eyes, in your eyes we are worth saving.
In your voice, in your voice, in your voice we’ll find promises of what’s to be;
With you we’ll breathe.
The sea will rise, the sea will rise, the sea will rise but we will sail on
In our eyes, in our eyes, in our eyes you’re a faithful God
Though we pray, though we pray, though we pray for an olive branch
We’ll sail straight through
We’ll breathe with you

Lord your faithfulness will lead me through these waters
Lord your faithfulness will lead me in the truth
I will gladly drown to show the world you chose us
I will gladly drown to show that I choose you

Though there is no silver lining in our vision
You have made the promise no more waves

The sea will rise, the sea will rise, the sea will rise but we will not sink
Because in your eyes, in your eyes, in your eyes we are worth saving.
In your voice, in your voice, in your voice we’ll find promises of what’s to be;
With you we’ll breathe.
The sea will rise, the sea will rise, the sea will rise but we will sail on
In our eyes, in our eyes, in our eyes you’re a faithful God
Though we pray, though we pray, though we pray for an olive branch
We’ll sail straight through
We’ll breathe with you

You baptize us when you bring the floods.
Hear a voice cry out, begging pleading “Father let us drown”
You baptize us when you command the floods.
Hear the world cry out begging “Father cleanse us in your blood”

The sea will rise, the sea will rise, the sea will rise but we will not sink
Because in your eyes, in your eyes, in your eyes we are worth saving.
In your voice, in your voice, in your voice we’ll find promises of what’s to be;
With you we’ll breathe.
The sea will rise, the sea will rise, the sea will rise but we will sail on
In our eyes, in our eyes, in our eyes you’re a faithful God
Though we pray, though we pray, though we pray for an olive branch
We’ll sail straight through
We’ll breathe with you