The Castles That We Carry Inside of Us

By Francesca Wilkin

Photograph by James Cole

Photograph by James Cole

 

Let's go on an adventure and make lists of the things we like;

Cuban coffee, wool socks, sex jokes,

cold winter days like the sides of a square,

 

theater, mint gum.

 

We can share a car with our paintings that

cramp up the back seat and

we'll strap them in because

we aren't afraid to die, but

 

we are afraid to crash and burn.

 

We can share an apartment with the elephant in the room,

all the things we never said strung up like

drying sage and hawk feathers,

we'll use it as a guard against the evil

we swear is there,

humming around our ears like wasps, and

we never considered that maybe it's

 

inside;

 

Behind the paintings we set over our eyes,

the broken-in windows and shattered glass of an

abandoned home,

 

we swear we're fine.

 

We'll go visit old friends who will say that

when we were kids we laughed more,

wore our hair longer,

and they will swear we grew up so fast and

we say

we're still the kids you once knew,

we still murmur baby-talk under our breath,

 

they'll hold onto our little fragments of lost youth like a broken lullaby.

 

They'll ask to ride along on our road trip, but

we will apologize and say

sorry, there's only room for two,

because the paintings buckled into our backseat

 

really aren't going anywhere.

 

We have stacks of books with broken bindings

in cardboard boxes

in our trunk

with our names on the flaps in

permanent marker,

and their covers remind us of dream catchers that did their jobs, the sand man, and

fairy dust.

 

We don't read those books anymore.

 

We carry reality around inside of us like

a coffin for the lungs,

beside wishes in glass vials,

swirling like dirt in the eddy of our own personal voids,

beside dust gathered on shelves that we

don't have room for anymore,

and their empty spaces create a silence

that only paintings,

riding along behind us,

 

can fill.

 

I know you aren't one for adventures,

but we can share the bed with all our dirty laundry and

stack books upon our walls like a inversed moat and

hang our own paintings in the hotel and

as long as

we don't get trampled by the elephant in the room or

eaten by the wolves of what was never said,

we can have just as much fun as if we were

 

alone.