If I Let Go of Atoms
by Azia Archer-DuPont

          If I close
myself off from the world,
become frozen flesh tonging
twisted nothings and empty words,
cautiously observe the way I shut my eyes
and how I blink darkness
with eager hellos.
My eyes shut many moments
too long, separating
myself from the moonless world.
If it is safe,
and what I mean by that
is if my eyes are still
closed, still searching empty void
for momentary daydream,
please whisper tender atoms
into my ears.
Please whisper.
Whisper atoms until atoms linger
along my clenched jaw, let atoms
pull my crooked spine
straight, atoms reminding me
I am not a shapeless void.
Sometimes I forget
that I cannot exist
half-heart beating,
          no tiny flame
in my belly. I’m terribly sorry
I’ve done it again.
Convinced myself that just my half
is somehow a whole.
How many ways can I try
to forget you?
It tears me into a soulless body
searching for all the smallest
parts, searching for atoms
to keep my eyes
eager, to keep me

IMAGE: “Closed Eyes” by Odilon Redon (1890).

NOTE FROM THE AUTHOR: This poem came to me on a particularly rough day, where my mind was slipping into patterns of isolation and depression, but I happened to be aware of it happening and in many ways talking to myself: “See what you’re doing?” “Stop running” — things like that. There are some things that make the darkness momentary, tolerable, and survivable. Hold onto those things, those people. Do not push away the love.


ABOUT THE AUTHOR: Azia Archer-DuPont is a mother, writer, maker and lover living in Minnesota. She is the founding editor and Editor-in-chief at Dirty Chai and the owner and publisher at Tiny Flames Press. You can find her online at or via Twitter @aziadupont.

AUTHOR’S PHOTO CAPTION:  This photo that was taken just before leaving California. I call it, “Leaving the sunshine but being pulled by the moon.”