anxiety as a spiritual practice

what were you worried about
last night?
before you finally drifted off,
having doused the last of the fires
burning the backs of your eyes,
the last of the wild awareness
roaming your skull.
do you remember, now, as
sunlight threatens to pierce your
eyelids?
now: this too-early morning, an
insistent child wailing you awake
from sweaty, intermittent
slumber.

if you don’t remember, i can
remind you.

lack of sleep will kill you young; and
sleeping while Black will kill you young.
living fat will kill you young; and
loving queer will kill you young.
being femme
and crazy
and poor
while defiantly claiming joy
as yours
will still kill you young.
but try to forget this, and
seize the morning!
let yourself see life anew.
each day, you manifest
your destiny.
right?

what were you worried about
anyway?
you have no savings,
you have debt, and
you have love, yes—
but love is alive
and what can be loved can die.
does grief stick to your teeth,
wear out your jaw,
prop your eyes open past dawn?
does it transmute memory into
paper-thin skin,
silk smooth but never as strong?
think about that, while you
fix your breakfast and
churn butter in your belly.

a simmering background
radiation of unease,
hiding under a forced smile,
mocking the corners of the day.
a spike in temperature,
a sweaty upper lip,
a shaking hand,
a deep breath
before you enter the store,
before you enter the room,
before you speak your truth.

and also: a vivid consideration
of others,
a prompt recognition
of shared discomfort.
a stolen grin, a kind joke,
an eager and fervent celebration
of our humanity.

then the discordance of dusk;
its strident refusal to choose shadow or light
troubling the waters,
stirring the silty bottom of your psyche.
because you, too, refuse
to choose between,
to tend the present and neglect the future,
to worry the future and not lament the past.
like a scryer, you consider it all,
and it is all-encompassing,
all exhausting.

night falls as relief and challenge.
can you abandon the material and
dance with the ethereal, release your
hands from their sculpted grip
on the railing, allow the crumbling earth
to fall from your feet?
and you must rise in the morning
because you must drive in the morning
and you must produce in the morning
because you must survive in the morning
so you need to get some rest.

what were you worried about
this morning?
when you turned from the awe
of the astral realm and the sun
slipped slivers of star under your
skin.
did you remember to call that
friend, the one whose mother
just died?
did you remember to lock the
front door and turn on the porch
light?
while you lay here, ponder the
tragedy of hierarchy, the unending search
for meaning in the meaningless,
the anguish of the oceans, the death
of the cosmos, that awkward moment
over dinner,
how much you weigh,
how much you earn,
how much you’re worth
(are you worth anything at all?),
how much you miss her,
how much time is left,
how much time you wasted,
how much time until you rest.

or,
inhale. exhale. burn bright.
conjure portals
with your smoke-rimmed mouth,
touch cool glass blue to your lips,
find the quiet within the shout.
repeat this spell three times,
count what-ifs instead of sheep,
wrap your head in satin and pray:
not to be forgiven, but
to sleep.

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