She thought she would crumble under the weight of it all.
What is real
and what is not.
The mountains towered over her
so she closed her eyes and she tried to imagine
her earth,
shaking and sinking,
exploding and reforming,
giving birth to the treacherously beautiful landscape.
But she couldn’t feel it.
It was so long ago that the ground stretched itself out,
like a blanket spread across the fiery core.
There were no lingering tremors.
She heard a poet once;
he described people like mountains,
these big tall things that could stand in any
metaphorical storm.
She used to like to think like that too.
Sometimes she thought if you compared people to anything,
it could make sense.
If you were creative enough.
People are like window panes!
They’ll block out the storm, but the wind still seeps in the cracks,
whistling softly!

She supposed storms must also be part of the analogy.
Apparently life was a storm of some sort.
So far, it had only felt like a generally gale force wind, with occasional
baseball-sized hail.
The wind was all right sometimes, on the days when it was just a breeze.
And the hail was cool,
if you were inside and all.
But it all got cold and old
after a while.
Maybe that was a storm after all.
In any case,
she now thought the poet was a lunatic.
She thought he should be denied pen and paper.
(Sometimes, she got irrational).
Because people were not like mountains;
not at all.
Mountains are strong.
Mountains never say stupid stuff.
Mountains never throw bombs at other mountains.
Mountains stay out of other people’s business.
They never make friends,
but I suppose that makes existence real easy for them.
When she looked at mountains,
she didn’t see something that would crumble.
When she looked at herself,
she saw pieces chipping away.
It was normal wear and tear, really.
Nothing extreme.
Nothing more than anyone else.
But it was enough to make her not like a mountain.
she was more like a city.
Planned and impressive and imposing to see.
Full of complication behind the gates.
People read books about traveling in cities,
and people read blogs thinking it’ll help them understand a person
without really putting in much effort.
That’s the city’s fault, you know.
The city shouldn’t look so hard.
I bet the city would tell it a different way.

But she knows,
that cities don’t fall all at once.
They’re beaten down,
brick by crumbling
Torn and bashed.
It is the fate of all great empires.
So unlike the fate of great mountains,
those everlasting pockmarks on an otherwise
abandoned planet.
Things that can’t fall,
in love or otherwise.
Resilient reminders of the inconsistency of things.
Silent watchers of refugees and
the ones who just need a hiding place.
When they finally crumble,
it will be time to do so.
But until then they will not budge.
The cities we build on them,
and the miniature cities inhabiting the larger ones,
will continue to rise and collapse.
Outside-in and inside-out.
(Sometimes it is the city’s choice as to the manner of detriment).
And the mountains,
out of friends and out of love and out of risk,
will stand.


There is a reason everyone loves a good story.
We will sit for two hours in a darkened theatre
as the lovers dance across the stage,
promising the world to one another even
as the world decays beyond the fourth wall.
We will throw our pocket money at the sullen box office boy,
with his long shaggy hair and freckly nose,
and he will push a ticket toward us.
enjoy the show
monotone through the speaker.
What he really means is
enjoy the intrigue,
the romance and the drama,
watch as the hometown hero with a dark secret
woos the mysterious girl hiding behind her books and her sarcasm.

But reality has caught up with the sullen box office boy
so he forgets his speech.
See, he knows.
He sees us go in and out,
wandering people clamoring to be whispered to.
The lovers on the stage see us too.
They stick their heads out their dressing room windows
and watch us file in from the
deafening streets.
From their vantage point, we are the glittering stars
and they are the ones hoping to understand.

We need the stories because life
is not like
the stories.
The sword comes slashing down and the hero parries.
The violins swell as the camera cuts close for the kiss.
She turns to go and for once,
he does not let her.
And for once,
she hears him out.
The magical world lies behind a curtain.
The phone rings and a life changes.
The lovers dance.

But it doesn’t work like that.
People don’t show up on doorsteps
and no one says the things you rehearsed in your head.
Life doesn’t happen like stories do
but we keep going back to the stories
hoping one day something will change.
Hoping one day
the tables will turn.