Pedigree

“Someone with your pedigree…”
Your words hung heavy in the air days after they traveled across the table
I fear you meant it as a compliment, how else could they be so sincere?
They weighed me down like chains tethered to my past
In ways that only lineage roots you to a name and material wealth
They dragged behind my steps like endless lines on a receipt:
The girth of my hips, the cinch of my waist,
The width of my shoulders, the sinews of my legs,
The depth of my eyes, the fullness of my lips,
The strands of my hair, the arch of my brows,
The thoughts in my mind, the degrees on my walls.
Am I thoroughbred enough for you?
Are my markings exactly those for which you search?
Or will I become another ledger neatly folded in your pocket
Perused when hope is thin and need is high?

———
“Pedigree” by Azul Serena

Heartbreaker

“You’re a heartbreaker, aren’t you.”
It wasn’t a question; it was a statement.
How like you to believe the truth of your assumptions.
But I played along.
I let you tangle me in your feathery string of words
Round and round until I lost my breath
And blended into the blurred surroundings of your starry night VanGogh
Desperately searching for the edges and angles
Anchoring you to me and us
Knowing I’d shatter against the impenetrable wisp of your love
Leaving behind painfully beautiful fragments of life.
But I played along.
So yes, I’m a heartbreaker.
I’m a terrible breaker of hearts.

———
“Heartbreaker” by Azul Serena

Invisible Women

Invisible women
Wives of men, Mothers of sons.
You ceased to exist the day your body was sold through the holy sanctity of matrimony
Stripped of your father’s name and prettily cloaked by your husband’s name.
Do not be fooled.
Your new identity comes at a price too horrific to name: Erasure.
You are no longer Eve, daughter of Man, autonomous person;
You are now His Wife and Their Mother, invisible woman.
Nameless, faceless
Worthy of mention after you’ve birthed a son to carry the family name.
Worthy of shame after you birth daughters, poor souls condemned to expunction.
Who are you? Where have you been, seen, heard, felt?
Tragically no one but you will ever know.


This piece was written as a response to my many observations of the gender politics that riddle family gatherings. Whether knowingly or unknowingly, the men in my family have the habit of introducing first their sons by name, followed by their unwed daughters by name, briefly mentioning their married daughters as “My daughter, so-and-so’s wife,” and introducing their wife last as “My Wife.” They don’t mention her name and rarely ever turn to look her in the eyes when they make the introduction. If she’s lucky her husband will make a half-hearted wave in her direction; but that’s a veritable rarity. With this behavior he enforces a hierarchy that clearly renders women invisible, worse than a second-class citizen.

———
“Invisible Women” by Azul Serena

My Violin, Our Love

I’ll know that I am ready to commit to you and our relationship the day I learn to love you the way I love my violin. Within seconds of laying eyes on my violin I knew that it would change my life forever; however, it was years before I understood my transformation.

The violin challenged me to persevere when I was on the verge of hopelessness, and to rejoice at the minor victories that come with mastering its complexity. It was a humbling experience that taught me that its beauty was a reflection of my commitment to learn, refine, and perfect the foundational techniques.

There were days when the music flowed effortlessly from my fingertips, giving me a false sense of grandiosity. I, the violin virtuosa, was unstoppable, brava, a prodigy! But inevitably, time and again I fell from that precarious precipice; the pain was a direct correlation to my arrogance. In those moments, I, the apprentice, was too eager and inept to be granted the honor of touching the delicate instrument.

Thankfully, soon enough – or maybe not too soon – I learned that the joy of being a violinist doesn’t stem from the ability to play beautifully, rather it stems from our ability to transform the screeching sounds of our rigid fingers into the driving force that wills us to practice for hours on end simply to hit that note and play that rhythm.

Thus, the day I learn to embrace the fact that love requires more than fluttering lashes, rosy cheeks, and puckered lips, will be the day I learn to treat our relationship the way I treat my violin: gently, reverently, passionately, patiently.

———
“My Violin, Our Love” by Azul Serena

Of Life and Hair Loss

These days he spent a few extra moments in front of the mirror, lamenting his loss with each tilt of his head. He didn’t tell his wife this, but he kept count of how many hairs he’d lost overnight; she’d never believe him. It appeared that last night’s casualties amounted to four: three from his temples and one from the crown of his head. At least these days the recession had tapered off to no more than five hairs per night. He sighed deeply as he gently caressed his hair before opening the door and stepping onto the cold tile floor that led to their bedroom.

He was only 24 years old when the hair loss began. At first he didn’t pay it much heed. It was unthinkable that his luscious tresses – the same ones that women envied – would succumb to this mundane tragedy. By the end of that year he could no longer ignore the truth that stared back at him every morning when he raised his head from his pillow: he was balding.

Initially the fear was nothing more than undiluted vanity. He liked running his fingers through his hair while he talked to pretty women. And he certainly liked the sensation of the rushing wind ruffling his hair as he biked across the city. Losing his hair was equivalent to losing his power of seduction. Preposterous.

Now it was a matter of practicality. A balding head implied years of wisdom and an unquestionable resignation to Life’s many whims. He had neither. He had energy to expend and goals to contrive. He had bravado. But he certainly did not feel complacency. How then was he expected to live with this unwanted burden? (Or lack thereof considering the lightened weight of his head.)

It was tragic to realize that he had set the value of life on looks and vanity. Nevermind that he had a roof over his head, a loving family, and a solid college education. Looks and vanity were his downfall – he was the true son of the fallen angel. He was human. Thankfully, as a true human he also had undying hope. He knew beyond doubt that his hair would never grow back, but that didn’t stop him from hoping otherwise. Maybe this hair loss had its benefits after all.

———
“Of Life and Hair Loss” by Azul Serena

Cosmic Collision

We were both comets
Fiery and raging with purpose
Searing our paths through the vast universe
Leaving a wake of wispy granules
Ready to join in the creation of greatness
Confident and unerring in our trajectory,
An empty vastness of potential unfound and untouched
Beckoned us forward and onward,
Until we crossed paths
And paused.
Nevermind that the manifold mysteries of the universe
Rushed past us as we lay suspended in time
Quietly learning our silence and melodies
Intently studying our wars and our peace
Slowly learning our purpose
As individuals in a world of infinite infinities,
As Titans in a world of our own
Born of a gentle collision of cosmic proportions
With fires more potent that the steady flame
Of our singular passions.

———
“Cosmic Collision” by Azul Serena