This poem is for Ember, a friend I made in chemistry graduate school and who later convinced me to try writing poems about my chosen family. A lot of what we have bonded over is shared struggles with depression and shared attempts to write poetry about them, though her poems are generally far better than mine.
June 2018, in Catonsville, Maryland
It’s easier to love someone else,
when the dark shadows envelop you
and refuse to let you love yourself,
and try to drown you in your fears.
If self-love was all they stole,
one might easily flee into another’s arms.
But they do not give up so easily,
and assure you that no one else can love you, either.
So it takes the truest courage
not only to love, but to trust
a friend to let them see inside your heart,
to let them try to calm the monsters there.
And that, I think, is what I love most
about you, chosen cousin, chosen sister, dearest friend:
that we can trust each other through the dark,
to tend our hearts’ demons and keep us safe.