Before, fear was as present as a light drizzle on a cloudy day, 

subtly dousing anything that was undefended—

the pavement and the trees and the yellowed blades of grass.

You told me threat ran the streets beneath this rainy downfall,

but I felt its presence was disproportionate, as if the shoes it wore fit too big on its feet.

Across the street, the dog’s bark unapologetically roared.

Throughout drenched and inky nights, storms engulfed our home.

Behind our door, each knock from a stranger caused the bricks of our walls to crumble.

Yet, when the walls collapsed, you eagerly leaped, ready to fix it.

Your hands built the walls around me.

Your effort to keep me safe forged hope.

Your love became a solace—an illuminated refuge.

In a way, I like to think you were my home.

Although you spent few days beside me, you provided what was necessary for me to grow.

I barely knew you, yet you were the soil at my roots that allowed me to flourish,

the lighthouse that guided my stranded ship,

the beaming lamp in my darkened and unforgiving room,

the pure water that washed away any tainted fear.

However, I soon realized the roar of the dog was a simple bark,

storms brushed over our home whenever they arrived,

and your hands attempted to fix walls that were never truly broken. 

It seemed at the same time, you flipped the switch to the lamp in my room,

allowing darkness to flood in between each exposed crevice. 

You replaced “always” with “if,”

and light became currency, rarely clenched between my hands.

Like a stranded ship seeking an unlit lighthouse,

like a meager fern attempting to grow in dried soil,

the source of my growth was also the source of my decay.

I no longer fear storms or a dog’s bark or the knock of a stranger.

I fear knowing how to see light without you.

I am grateful for what you built. 

The walls, the safety, the warmth.

But I now know the danger of dependency.