Alone. There is no answer for this hand spun state of being. They whisper it as if it is something to be feared or revered or a little bit of both. The thought of an uncertain future, or, perhaps, a redefined present, is a monster they have no name for, and this is what makes them afraid. But here it is: love songs and suicide notes blur into each other when you find yourself lost in the crowd, and yet - on your own you develop a new sense of time.
Alone. Or: lonely. They use the words as synonyms.
And you begin to wonder, because the wondering is what you are made of.
Your wild and untenable heart spins all these things in the dream-wakening. Things like what might happen if you hung the ocean up to dry, salt crusted on your mothbitten skin. The moon wrapped up in cellophane and shipped to your doorstep. You wonder because it is all you know how to do, because of course this what it means to be alone, and the words pooling in your head are the ones with which you will the magic into being.
Loneliness, they say, the women with soft winter voices who wear their wrinkles as battle scars. Nothing a teaspoon of stardust and a good night's sleep can't fix.
It is the first hint you receive that you need fixing, that perhaps all these fragmented parts of you are supposed to fit together. That you were never anything more than a jigsaw puzzle.
You spin round and round. Wander to the edge of the street, call it a world. Gaze out at the universes past the dented stop sign on the corner. Wonder how many millennia it might take to explore them all and how many more to map out the ones hidden in your own mind.
Here is what you can't define, can't unfold: even in all this loneliness, you have never once felt anything less than alive.
It is not the act of existing that exhausts you; you see it as something reckless and radical. But existing in the presence of so many other galaxies: here is where you feel your light begin to fade. The loneliness makes you luminous. And you wonder why that sounds like a paradox.
So you learn to make a home out of your own mind, because perhaps you begin to realise that the wondering is the wandering, that there never was a difference. You find it easier, at least, to stop trying to piece together all those fragmented pieces and instead simply exist. To orbit your own planet rather than exploring the unknown beyond the hemisphere of your mind.
You learn to stop trying to find the stardust and simply let it come to you. You learn to embrace the aloneness as loneliness and to learn that neither was ever a curse. You learn that perhaps you have been the poem all along.
And you relearn to believe that that - if nothing else - is enough.