Instructions

you have to make the world shine,
you have to take the small sunny spaces
hidden within yourself,
the bright spots that refuse to darken
even when the clouds knit themselves into the sky
and the boy you liked
(bowed your curls at his feet)
says your glasses make your face look pinched.

you gotta take those brights stars in you,
the suns that burn on when the sky falls down on you,
tucked away where you forget,
sometimes,
that they exist.

you need to reach into you;
I’m serious, reach right in
and feel around your soul —

your fingers might brush
some nasty stuff,
and dirt could fall from the walls like coffee grounds
into the sink, morning after you didn’t know what you were doing

but keep going because
this is your most important task in this world

reach into that beautiful creature,
that fully formed animal of you,
and allow your palm to fill with warmth.
close your fingers around it
and do not worry —
a star this bright will never burn out.

so grip that light tight in your fist

it’s the most beautiful thing about you;
wear it like a shirt
and it’s a beating thing on your chest
and when you turn your back and walk away
it will warm their cheeks
and I promise
when you glance back –
because you will –
their hands will be reaching out
to grip the last bits of warmth you’ve left floating
amongst the dustmites in the air

-Helen Armstrong

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