You saw me friendly, eyes always crinkled in a smile,
even venturing to describe me a rose of society.
And though I had denied it then, embarrassed,
I see the resemblance now:
A storm frees itself from the burden of a bright, heavy seedpod.
It is left to grow in a suffocating darkness, stifled in height.
Its bud trembles under its own weight,
yet the seedling nurtures itself with the audacity of hope
One day the quivers grow less frequent,
and its sepal begins to open, blooming.
But so strangely.
Its petals are too dark and small to be considered beautiful.
Its leaves are infected by plague.
And the thorns.
They grow thick and long,
sprouting from every side of its inelegant stem,
flourishing in the dark as its petals droop,
guarding against the greatest danger,
a stranger with a gardener’s heart happening along.
So don’t come near to draw sunlight to my petals, away from the dark loneliness I crave
because my armor of thorns will tear you apart.
They’ll dig deep into your flesh, drawing blood
while I can only watch helplessly from afar.
I’ll shed tears of pain over your hurt
but it’ll be too late because you didn’t understand
that I cannot be freed from this cage that binds me,
this shield that preserves me.
I cannot be salvaged and put together,
broken petal by broken petal,
for I am in all essence,
just in an unfathomable way.
From the thoughts of a friend:
I saw the strangest thing today.
A rose was growing within a stone’s fissure.
That’s not normal for them.
I figured if I could replant it in my garden with its own kind, it would grow into a nice rosebush.
After all, it’s gotten pretty far on its own, imagine how it’ll thrive in ideal conditions.
That’s what I thought anyway.
Funny thing is, the plant won’t budge.
Once, I saw a really beautiful bed of tulips and then spotted a tiny dandelion growing horizontally underneath it, engulfed by the shadows of the other flowers. I thought that was beautiful in an ironic way, so it was one of the inspirations for this piece.
The rose in the poem is struggling to grow within a rock’s crevice, and has an irrational fear of someone that could essentially heal it, a gardener. And for the narrator in the metaphor, the gardener represents a friend, or someone seeking closeness. The friend sees the rose and wants to replant it and care for it. But the rose doesn’t comply.
I wrote this poem to explore my introverted nature I always thought of as a burden. As a Muslim, I realized the importance of interacting with people and being friendly to dispel the various stereotypes they might have. But being socially active was mentally exhausting for me. Even asking my fellow classmate a question was a struggle. I spent a lot of time having this inner conflict, should I be more extroverted or just keep within my comfort zone? I wrote this poem in response to that.
As for the answer to the conflict, I believe it is important for a Muslim, in these times especially, to be active within their community and at the same time fulfill their personal needs. For an introvert, that means being socially active but also taking out some time to spend alone. Have I reached that point of balance yet? No. But I do have the determination and stubbornness of a certain rose, and if I can put it to use to try and overcome this, I fully believe that one day I will, insha’Allah.