Living Within Myself

In Belonging, Season 3 by Mary Oladejo

Within a world replete with cacophony 
My ears endure shrill sounds incessantly
My voice exhausted, I can’t make a sound  
My eyes burn from lack of rest, a sleepless bound 

I am in a place brimming with a surging mass 
As aimless blows upon my shoulders pass 
So packed, I gasp to catch a breath in vain 
Unfamiliar faces swerve and sway over and over again 

In every direction, people push through 
While I stand still, observing the chaos that ensues 
Deep in thought, I wonder where I'll go 
And who I am which I truly do not know 

Summoning some courage, I take a leap 
In whatever direction the wind may kindly sweep — 

The transient flow of humanity's breeze, 
Brings people near and far, as it may please. Good or bad, harm or peace 
Friends or foes, strain or ease 

One soul did whisper, hushed and low, 
That my skin should hide, too thin to show. 
Another took a look at my teeth with disgust 
And said to refrain from smiling too much 
Disheartened, I drew my sleeves to veil, 
My flaws and blemishes, my inner travail. 
And so, I pressed on, a gloomy sight, 
As the gusts of conformity howled with might.
I convinced myself that my visage was akin to a verdant hue, 
And that my voice was like a siren, warning of subpar views. 
To meet the standard proved a daunting feat,
Even mere normalcy, I found it hard to meet. 
What standard, whose normal, I couldn't ascertain, 
But the wandering faces, I yearned to attain. 
I attempted and faltered time and again, 
Frustration, a constant, unwanted refrain. 
I dwelt in a life where I couldn't take pride, 
In an endless parking lot, feeling confined inside. 
Each day, I cowered and waited for my chance, 
Yearning to be in front, to take my stance. 
But with hopelessness mounting, I let the winds blow.
And meandered aimlessly, with no real place to go. 

Amidst heavy rain or sweltering heat, 
In a haven do I find a retreat? 
My labor's shed, my pride's display, 
A glimpse of my soul, in its own way. 

In that little shed, the world admires my artistry, 
They applaud the great levels I have of its mastery 
But when the rain ceases or the air cools, 
Faces move on to their own jewels 
In the absence of my creative lair, 
I feel lost, invisible, gripped with social fear 
I go back again on the lone road 
With no will, I go on as though by the wind I’m owned.

And so, I wander long, but suddenly my senses return, 
And I find myself on a desolate lane, without concern. 
Shattered lamps flicker, trash swirls by the wind's reign, 
Starving birds cry out, their cries in vain. 

A mirror catches my sight, and I peer in,
There I see the age etched on my dear skin. 
Years gone by, lost in the haze within,
Swirling memories, faint, growing dim 
Tears and joys mingle in my mind, 
Their significance now lost, left far behind 
A part of myself hidden away from the world and myself alike 
A precious part the world had taught me to dislike 

As I gazed into the enigmatic glass, 
I beheld eyes that gleamed like starlight's flash. 
The white whiter than freshly fallen snow, 
The dark darker than the finest red Bordeaux. 
Rosy cheeks bloomed with a natural hue, 
Adding a touch of sweetness to an aura so true.
Pearly teeth, although crooked, gleamed so bright, 
Each one a testament to health and might. 
Every misaligned tooth bore witness to my growth,
 A story of how I became the real me that I know. 
My graceful frame, a beauty to behold, 
Well-proportioned and elegant, a marvel to unfold. Every fiber, every atom, every DNA, 
A chapter of my life, a story of my way. 
True beauty resides in joy and peace, 
And finding oneself within, a beauty that will never cease

As I release my thoughts, I ponder anew, 
What would life be like if to me I were true 
If I embrace my form and being, 
If I spend time within to understand the way I am feeling. 

So I sought guidance to dig deeper, 
To bring forth what lurked within me like a creeper.
I embraced uncomfortable truths and worked to sever,
The roots of harm that sought to bind me forever. 

With time I began to love myself with care, 
Reversing an age that came with despair. 
Affirming myself with positive thoughts,
Undoing the stubborn and malicious knots. 

I challenged myself in a positive light, 
Finding the courage within my heart to fight,
Against the fears that held me back, 
And the voices that would wait till late to viciously attack.

I redefined my aspirations and strayed from the crowd, 
With the refreshing breeze gusting towards me proud, 
Each stride, filled with bravery and finesse, 
Towards a brighter tomorrow and a happier address.