SPOTLIGHT: And the Universe Said ‘I Love You’, by Candria Slamin

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And the Universe Said I Love You

Drink with me, for tonight
is a good night. No, there is no
holy holiday or summer celebration, but
it is a good night because we still
take in the oxygen from the trees
and still give the trees back our carbon.
Drink with me because the barley
and the potatoes and the grapes
still grow to give us this drink. Let us dedicate
our first sip to the first calloused hand
that picked the crop at all. Come,
sit with me, barefoot in the prickly
grass. Let the dirt cool our soles. Hold
your glass with me up to the night sky.
Let our toast shine in the light of the moon
and the stars. Drink with me and let us
marvel at how we may be the only ones here,
the only ones able to drink, the only
ones breathing and floating through the cold
of space. Let us marvel at the wonder
the blackness of night gives. Let
us yell up to it. Let us hear the empty
echo we leave that dies too quickly.
Drink with me, my sister. My brother.
My sibling, my cousin, my fellow reader
sitting on a rock adrift in the nothingness.
Drink with me, for tonight we are here, together again.




And the Universe Said You Are the Universe Tasting Itself

Alive in the void that was itself,
Chaos reached into their chest,
splayed their fingers out to touch
every bit of the nothingness
that made up them, and then curled
the fingers inward. Clenched
their hand into a tight ball, and pulled
it out from the chest of black.
In that moment, the words everything
and nothing still meant the same thing. But,
as Chaos opened their grasp, nothing
became everything. Their meanings
spilt from the other to hold
hands in the rapid, white hot birth.
And as the universe began,
as the stars burst into gas and flame
as the dust became rock became planet,
as the single cell became many,
as the fish became you and me,

the void became mother.



And the Universe Said Made From Nothing But Milk and Love

Sometimes, I think of the children my mother did not get to birth. Of the tiny cells that did not stick together. Of the tiny mouths that did not form and then did not suckle on the milk that makes. Sometimes, I think they were little Chaoses inside the womb, a void alive in itself. Sometimes, I wonder if they, too, looked beyond what we cannot see —into the far reaches of time— and liked what they saw. Pulled themselves apart again. Returned their atoms to the skin within my mother’s womb and waited for me.



And the Universe Said I Love You Because You Are Love

Little niece of mine,
the first time I held you I briefly understood
why people have children. The weight
of you, all 5 pounds ½ ounce of you, felt
like the whole of this blue Earth in my arms,
and the sound of your sleeping breath must
have been the sound Existence made
when the first amino acids clung to one another,
and the heat of your tiny body must have been
the heat of the first explosion to spill it all
out into the void of before, and when
your little hand came up and squeezed
my index finger, I understood
why the stars must have given their carbon to make us.


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