by Mary E. Lowd
Originally published in New Myths, December 2019
I am a cracked crystal vase holding a rainbow cloud. The colors leak out through the cracks. The crystal is too rigid; it can’t contain them. The colors are too strong, too big. Too bold. And the crystal is precise. It desperately wants — no, needs — to be precise. But the colors have no patience. They can’t wait for precision. They happen. Whether the crystal is ready to contain them or not.
You think this is a metaphor. The crystal is my analytical mind. The rainbow is my feelings. My heart. And that’s true. It is a metaphor, but metaphors aren’t what you think they are here on Earth.
You think that metaphors are stories that hold some truth. Different metaphors can hold different aspects of the truth, can describe the same situation from different angles. But they’re all made-up stories, and we’re lying in bed, with my head on your shoulder, no matter how many stories I tell. I could be a labyrinth with a key in the center. I could be a gryphon, torn between its lion nature and its eagle ways. But I am still a human girl, and my head is on your shoulder.
That’s one kind of metaphor. But there’s another.
An accurate metaphor.
An accurate metaphor is more true than all the other possible metaphors for the same space-time object. It’s so true that in some sense — in another space-time plane — it’s not a metaphor. It’s the actual fact.
I am here on Earth with you, describing my feelings and the insecurities that cause me to try to control them with a breakable, rigid vessel. My fear that you’ll hurt me. That we’ll give up on each other. But I am also a creature of glittering angles, filled to bursting with gaseous colors, striding across an alien world, underneath a sky like stained glass on the other side of our space-time continuum. Only a twist away.
And you’re there with me. Your colors are escaping your glittering crystal exoskeleton too. Because you’re afraid too. Afraid of failing. Afraid you’ll never understand me. I am too complex.
But I love you, and when we embrace — our rainbow selves and our crystal selves will come into perfect alignment, because you love me too.
And our love heals the cracks and soothes the colors from a roiling billowing boil down to a wispy whisper of pastels.
So hold me, and I’ll hold you.
On a planet with a toxic atmosphere — no sky that beautiful could be painted by gases our human bodies would find breathable — universes away and also right here, we’ll be calm together.