In the beginning, the world was small. It could fit inside of my family’s house.
Outside, lived a rabid German Shepard, and the Kaneohe Marine Corps Air
Station roared across the glittering bay. The wide world scared me with its yellow
teeth, loud sounds, and sea cucumbers. But I had to leave my house to
go to school with the other snotty monsters. Later, school became a riptide yanking me
and my love back and forth across the country. Those were the days we scuttled
from rental to rental, a couple of academic hermit crabs. Meanwhile, my island
family was swallowed, one by one, by the insatiable waves. Over and over, I
found myself in the heart of the desert, an ancient ocean now immersed in sharp
light. In the end, the world was small. Yet, it could fill one hundred houses with
the shells I had shed.
There is a humble snail inside my chest. Thrift store white porcelain shell. Eyestalks
glancing the clouds like kite strings. It learns slowly, but it never forgets. I used to smoke
to force my snail into its shell. So it couldn’t see, so I couldn’t feel. Now I can make my
heart hide in its shell without cigarettes. But cynicism is brittle armor. Life will still crush
you, and march on. And since nothing in nature is ever wasted, other snails will eat you,
and crawl on. But more often than not, life has put me back together, shard by shard.
We all can be brutal boots, but also helping hands. It also helps to know about kintsugi,
a Japanese artform meaning “to repair with gold.” When a ceramic piece breaks, a
craftsperson rejoins its parts using lacquer dusted with gold or silver. These lustrous
scars render the pottery even more beautiful than when it was perfectly intact.
The greatest treasure
could be one’s humility.
A fractured heart, healed.
Sharon Suzuki-Martinez’s first book, The Way of All Flux (New Rivers Press, 2012) won the New Rivers Press MVP Poetry Prize. She was a finalist for the Best of the Net and a Pushcart nominee, among other honors. Her work recently appeared in Gargoyle, South Dakota Review, and Midway. Originally from Hawaii, she now lives in Arizona. https://sharonsuzukimartinez.tumblr.com/
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