we exist on the other side, you and i,
hands outstretched into nothingness for a taste of what we know lies beyond,
hoping our fingers will graze just a wisp of what now haunts our bones as nostalgia,
head tilted back and tongue waiting for the pinprick delight of a snowflake
that never flutters down from the empty sky.
we press our palms against the icy barrier,
aching for a step into that alien realm we once called home,
wistfully window shopping for glimpses of a life we no longer have,
each lavish gown stitched from a blaze of silk-spun memories is an injection of envy,
for our pockets and our hearts are empty of the gold it takes to possess such vibrancy.

we exist as ghosts, you and i,
translucent figures tugged this way and that by the winds of a world that does not believe in us,
tumbleweeds in a barren landscape haphazardly careening over cracked earth,
each rock we surmount a pointless obstacle in our journey to nowhere
as cars filled with bubbling beings of delight shoot off toward a distant horizon.
we watch with perhaps the tiniest shred of a memory blooming from within,
but too many of our seeds have already been cast into the ground,
dusted with sand grain chalk we might have once used to scribble on sidewalks
but now lies inert while our phantoms drift overhead,
bound to this infinite in-between as instants drag into days and years fade to moments.

we exist imprisoned, you and i,
souls inexplicably drawn to a distant beacon that beckons in a honey-sweet voice,
bodies magnetized, hypnotized by its siren call dripping with promises and praises,
every passing second consumed with the drive to possess its glory,
become one with the utter perfection that resounds within it.
we are but marionettes in its puppet show,
strings interlaced in our every word, every movement dictated at its hands,
lost in a ghastly hypnotic dance, and yet we crave its approval,
vowing reach the summit of this cliff no matter how perilous the path,
knowing one day we will fall, but still climbing ever higher.

we exist in desperation, you and i,
feet sprinting across sand that seems to shift and writhe at each footfall,
the earth churning like ocean waves under an unseen typhoon
as our legs grapple for purchase and hands claw for any anchor, any safety
in this rolling chaos of violent clashes against an enemy we neither see nor comprehend.
we are each fighting a war where the opponent has infiltrated our minds,
where no-man's-land lies within our souls and internal battles rage in eternal fury,
where ideas twist in the leap from thought to consciousness
so that an adversary one minute is ally the very next,
and we stand, only praying the next soul under our sword is that who pollutes our veins.

we exist now intertwined, you and i,
hoping our combined presence does not thicken the glass to the other side, but that our effort will be enough to shatter it,
hoping that the tangling of our lost spirits does not shackle us tighter to the in-between, but that our shared buoyancy will carry us to the sky,
hoping our joint being does not bring the puppeteer more strings to control, but that we will be able to break free of its grip,
hoping the binding of our strength does not foster the enemy’s attacks, but that we can fight our way through, back to back, an island in this treacherous sea.

we exist now together, you and i,
still hesitant, still afraid, still struggling, still stumbling,
hands clasped over an abyss that threatens to drag us down into it with every breath,
but knowing that we will plummet or soar together,
anticipating the falls that will be more painful under our collective weight,
but knowing that rising from the cracked ground is easier together,
and so we exist together.
we exist as us.

JESSICA DAE is a growing writer in Houston, Texas. She fosters a passion for poetry and creative writing, with focuses on mental health, social issues, and personal experience, and has been working on the craft for most of her life. She is president of her institution's English Honor Society and has competed in selective poetry competitions.

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