I see the world two different ways.

Day-old tea and dried petals, spilled and scattered.
Broken mirrors,
envelopes left unopened.
Blotchy smudges of newspaper records,
and the words that left paper cuts.
Artificial flowers and smiles.
Bloody battlefields and fractured families.
Dusty picture frames, and memories
favored,
faded,
forgotten.

We use streetlights
to pretend the world isn’t so dark.

But this is not the only way.

Two a.m. comets and the smell after rain,
the sky dripping with expression.
Stained glass,
words repaired with touch.
Still whispers of libraries,
and books that understand you.
Oceans that sweep away sad sand scribblings.
Cream that swirls galaxies in a cup of coffee,
and clouds that tuck the moon in,
among sunsets,
sleepy skies,
stars.

This used to be a conflict—
one of the fiercest wars
that raged in my mind,
about which view to hold.
How can there be love when there is so much hurt?
But oh, how can there be hurt when there is so much love?

Wounds that heal over years,
scars that fade in days.
Gray, stainless areas,
and patches that burst with color.
The coldest night of a bitter winter,
and the kindest, warmest kind of tea.
Salty tears, and opened windows to dry them.
Shaky, wet whispers of “I miss you.”
Handwritten letters with no address to heaven.
A first hug in five years, eight years—
the complete feeling in your arms.
Grieving the Creator of the universe
with each countless round of the clock,
and still finding measureless mercy.

Hurt and love,
pain and peace.
This is balance,
this is depth.

I understand the shaken, decayed state of the world,
so far from what God created.
But it is not a murky mob of shadows either—
a bloodthirsty army of begrimed, begrudging clouds.
My rose-tinted glasses have darkened over the years,
but they still let the light in.
Because I can dance in the rain,
and I can also sit with the sky
while it cries.

I learned this from the stars,
talented teachers,
and the earth’s streetlights.
I think they are wise creations,
the way they stand in the dark, drowsy night,
and still they smile through the black sky.