Your Desert


Half the battle is drawing the lines
the other half is deciding
which side to occupy
which space not to share
which lines to scuff
even erase

I used to stack my lines
until I built up shaking walls
surprised when they collapsed
I was tumbled over
a squiggly burial ground
I ceased

My finger, that toe, my nose-
the part doesn’t matter
just that they broke off
one at a time until I was
so much blood
gritty remains

I’m trying to say something
some grand statement
a meaningful, sweeping promise
but with words that chime true
not “it will be okay” because
it’s never okay

Not really. Not ever. “Okay”
is a lie. A sweaty, meaty lie.
Is it ever all right? No.
I’m stumbling here.
I’m a foal after birth

So, the truth (that tricky bitch)
is to remember that sides change,
wind in the desert and lines fade
but you still get to choose
every moment you live
where you stand
and who you allow
to stand with you.

Shawna Ayoub

Shawna Ayoub is an essayist, fiction writer, poet and instructor with an MFA in creative writing from Indiana University. Some of her work has been published in The Manifest-Station, Role Reboot, [wherever], The Huffington Post, The Oxford Review and Exit 7. Her writing explores the intersections of race, place and survivorship. She writes with honesty about her own experience in order to transform pain.

8 Discussion to this post

  1. Sigh,
    “Not really. Not ever. “Okay”
    is a lie. A sweaty, meaty lie.
    Is it ever all right? No.
    I’m stumbling here.
    I’m a foal after birth
    I knew this place…
    Good piece <3

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  2. Does Okay have to be a lie? Elusive, yes. Distant, definitely. But a lie? I still hold out hope.

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    • I think it depends on context. There are some things in life that never stop hurting even after we find that space of healing. I don’t see it as a negative. Being honest with ourselves allows us to set a firmer boundary and remove the “not okay” from our lives.

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  3. Elissaveta says:

    This is a truly beautiful poem. I hope you’re okay though and this is a way to express a morose feeling that won’t hang around too long…

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  4. […] Your Desert was written for someone I love. Now that I type that I’m noticing a trend. The work I’ve written out of love for others is the work you all pick up and share. Since my whole reason for writing is to help just one person, that’s fine by me. […]

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