Stone Pillows: Pt I



“What will survive of us is love.”

– Philip Larkin



When you were stolen –

I was wrestling with air.


My friend collapsed onto the couch once we returned to my hotel after having spent hours walking around Addis. I was exhausted, but on edge. My room felt…heavy.

I frantically checked my luggage – all my valuables were there. I opened the closets, cabinets, I checked the shower, under the bed – I found no one. The act of searching tests the heart: sometimes relief looks like discovering what you seek, and other times it looks like nothingness. My only finding was the slight adjustment of a pillow, a towel and paralyzing fear.

Dawit, I think someone was in my room.

We did another sweep of my hotel suite, checked the patio and its sliding doors. We surveyed the room, and our memory. Perhaps housekeeping made an unexpected second visit, so I shelved my worry. Yet, once my friend’s ride arrived, I grappled with bottling my angst. He gave me tips and bid me farewell as I was leaving to Mekele the next day.  After saying our goodbyes, I closed the door, only to frantically swing it open just seconds later. Halfway down the hallway, I called out to him in a panic.

Can you please check my doors, one last time? 


When you were stolen –

I was wrestling with the night.


For the first time since arriving in Ethiopia, peace and rest felt foreign. I tossed around my pillows, my sheets, my thoughts. I felt incredibly uneasy and emotional – juggling the weight of my room and meeting my family in Mekele for the first time. My mind was in a frenzy and my body folded. I leaped into a coughing fit, a souvenir of the virus I had been fighting all week. I rolled over to check the time: 4:30am. My mind debated whether it was too late or too early. Regardless, I was awake. I unlocked my phone, a text message appeared with a link to an article and the words I’m sorry next to your name.


When you were stolen –

I was wrestling with God.

I wanted to kick in heaven’s gates.


I can’t believe you left us. 



If I didn’t promise you the last time I overdosed

That I wouldn’t experiment again

I’d probably be high as fuck right now

But –

I know, I know

That would be the easy way out…

And I’m always lookin for shortcuts, quick fixes

Tryna do shit my own way

But I guess life don’t work like that

When I asked to learn stillness this wasn’t what I had in mind

I’ve barely left my bed in 3 weeks

I don’t even be sleeping

I just be thinking all day n all night

Lyin there hopin the next time I rise

It’ll all go back to how it was

I been tryna talk to God – you know, negotiate

Swearin if He turns back time

I’ll do things different

You know be a better person n all that

I don’t think He’s tryna hear that though

I feel like He got me on do not disturb

And I don’t know if there’s a point in keep callin

But I do it anyways cuz there ain’t really nobody else to talk to

Without being a burden

I know that if you keep shit pent up too long

Your mind starts speakin n seein real nasty

I ain’t the type that breaks

But this bent me the fuck outta shape

So, I got a therapist

Cuz I don’t feel as guilty

Having someone listen

If I’m payin them

She askin me why I’m here

I don’t really know

But, I do

She gotta pull teeth out

To get me to say it

I guess I still didn’t learn

From you

That lesson on pride

But I get angry talkin

Cuz its not gonna bring you back

They say it comes in waves

If that was true

I could ride it out

But I’ve never felt this depth of emptiness

I’ve never not grazed its floor

The therapist gave me “homework”

Says I should write you a letter

But, I’m not ready to talk about you in past tense

The weight of those words is just too damn heavy


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