Everybody is born whole
before they spend a lifetime
hollowing out. A home is just
a heart emptied of its residents.
A ghost is simply a soul
displaced from its body.
There are two ways to
look through a mirror, and
both you and your reflection
are seeing the same things.
Brown eyes can still burn
when one pair is full of life
and the other one isn't. Hands
can still be made from marble
when one pair is reaching
towards warmth and the other
is shying from the same familiarity.
Heartstrings pull taut when the
loneliness returns, as if to fool
itself into thinking that the heart
hasn't become void of life. It refuses
to listen even when everything that
you have become has been drained
from the spirit over the course of
an eternity you cannot express and
the light in your eyes has been
dulled into a brown that fades
into black irises and everything
that you know and loved has left
long ago. The remains of your ghost,
still searching for warmth where
it won't be found because ghosts
only inhabit places they knew in their
lifetimes but this body is not a home
anymore and there are no more mirrors
and no more hands to reach for and
everyone that has once lived here is gone.
Fisherman's Prayer, Redux
“Dear God, be good to me. The sea is so wide,
and my boat is so small.”
- Breton fisherman’s prayer
There are not enough stars in the sky
to have guided me this far without knowing
that there are shores up ahead. I have
always known about the storms – this is
not a new phenomenon. Not many things
in life are. On days like this when the clouds
clear only to cinch the sunset into dusk,
I close my eyes and remind myself
how easy it is to count my blessings.
Fun facts for ordinary prayers:
stars are always the first things to die in
this universe, but you’re still here. The moon
smiles at you the same way every thirty days,
but you can see one just as bright in the
mirror each morning. The sun always shines
brighter after a storm, and despite the odds,
you’ve braved every one of them thus far.
The sea beckons, with the call for
adventure and the promise of a beautiful
unknown. I don’t know much about
navigation, but I do know that there’s
no need to be afraid. The first rule to
surviving is to believe you will.
The light will always guide me home.
If I ever go underwater, I won’t be alone.
If I hold my breath long enough,
I’ll start to see stars, too.
Stephanie Tom is currently studying words, people, communication, and technology at Cornell University. She has previously been recognized by the national Scholastic Art and Writing Awards, the International Torrance Legacy Creativity Awards, and the international Save the Earth Poetry Contest. She was a 2019 winner of the Poets & Writers Amy Award and is the author of Travel Log at the End of the World (Ghost City Press, 2019). When she’s not writing she dabbles in dance, martial arts, and graphic design.