This past winter was a dark one in my life, marked by periods of mourning over loved ones buried and a loneliness more severe than previous snowy seasons. A blessing and tragedy of living far from family is that when crises occurs, I benefit and suffer from a level of detachment due to the distance that separates; I’m no stranger to that sensation and have grown accustomed, perhaps even too comfortable, with my living in my self-prescribed exile. This particular piece was written shortly after my grandmother passed in December and though there isn’t anything especially revealing about the piece, I required some time before being able to share it. My grandmother was a woman bearing such a kind, generous, and warm spirit, and a woman of unshakeable faith; there’s no other person who has made me want to believe in the heavens more than her.
Ash and Snow
Written by Chelsea Marie Hicks
Frailty failed her lungs,
breaths left dangling in the space above her bones,
the dissolved muscles and grey skin drained of its glow–
the absent sting of sunlight an illusion as bold as sunset.
Life rarely leaves lovely behind,
though caskets cling to the remnants
as if at war with soil’s desire to consume.
I’m told there was a mountain behind the funeral procession,
one which begs the imagination to blur colors of ash and snow,
as if they are not the same.
In earth her body lay buried,
wrapped with silk,
drenched in smooth faith.
Her soul in a distant ascension,
legs a reliquary latched to the stairway made of scripture.
I was recently conversing with a professor who told me that all great writers struggle to go home. He said that these writers spend their careers writing pieces of the Utopian home that doesn’t exist anywhere else but on paper. All of the great writers, he said, write about escaping from their homes and the impossibility of returning to it.
This is for my home, my city, the place that my green heart belongs to.
Written by Chelsea Marie Hicks
The trees here climb up the hills and cover every inch of visible land as if they were protecting the soil from some threatening prey. Above, the sky remains a dull shade of grey that remains constant from October through April until one fine day when grey fades to blue and the sky is illuminated with remarkable color. Those first blue days in spring, the days when the sun looks down on us making our skin smile from the abundance of vitamin D, illicit a child like behavior as city dwellers, cyclists and indie kids marvel at the strange and unfamiliar sight they had almost forgotten. Main features of the city lie within its distinct sectors all of which exude unique characteristics and strike different emotions depending on who you’re talking to. The buildings, unlike most major cities, do not reach for the clouds here, but rather they lay low to protect the distant view of the snow-capped Mt. Hood. Connecting downtown to its uber cool counterparts are a multitude of bridges that lie parallel to one another and grow in size as you move down the river towards Vancouver. These bridges, almost as peculiar as the cities inhabitants, are themselves works of art featuring brilliant arches and frames of muscular steel. To any stranger of this city it would appear as if cyclists rule the land as they weave in and out of traffic, some brave and bold riding their ‘fixies’ and some serious and determined to race with the real boys. Coffee shops line every corner and drench the air with a caffeinated aroma that give you the jitters just by inhaling. Litter on the streets is almost as rare as a sunny day in winter and green virtually covers the city from its streets to its hills to its people’s thumbs. Everywhere you look, even in the downpour, you see smiling faces and not once a sign of an umbrella. The people here are weird, but friendly. The streets in some parts freshly paved and in others still the old brick from the days of shanghaiing. Hippies, homeless and habitual drinkers can be found mingling the streets at almost any hour adding to a perplexing personality that can’t quite be matched. Both dark and dreary as well as hopeful and beautiful, this is the city I love.