Emotionments: Bite-sized Depictions of the Human Experience

Kyrie Garlic

Texas A&M University

UReCA: The NCHC Journal of Undergraduate Research and Creative Activity 2020 Edition


We dragged our bags into the night,

away from our tents,

shelter and security,

and into the unknown of the elements,

thanked God for His country.

The Milky Way was a dome over our heads,

holding us captive within the universe,

as willing members 

unable to float away.

We didn’t want to float away.

We wanted to float throughout.

Be all, see all.

Be the dawn.

Be the thunder.

Be the forest.

Be the heat.

Be the power and the beauty and the strength.

Partake in nature’s communion.

Swallow her celebration.

Let it swirl within us.


The mountains became us

and we became them.


We grew up in different worlds,

but I love yours

and you love mine.

Your holidays are family days

while mine lives 2,000 miles away.

But that’s okay,

because you’ve met them anyway.


My grandma loves you,

says so in letters,

while yours told me te amo

when we had milanesa

and it took me by surprise,

shocked the Spanish out of me,

but I love her too.


My accent is as good as yours,

but you speak the language

that flows in your blood

and not mine.


Our minds have intertwined

and our steps have synchronized

and what’s yours is mine.


We are two trees

from different soil,

grown so twisted together 

we can never be untangled.

Borders divide countries

but the blood in our veins

cannot stop the growth

toward the home we have built

in each other.


The rain came then,

in torrents,

like the breaking of a seal,

the trapped water

we had been denied all those months

aching for our earth.

My sister and I

heard the thunder from inside,

counted the seconds to lightning,

watched it flood our backyard

with white light.

The raindrops were percussion

bringing life 

to the grass and the flowers,

to South Texas,

to us,

two girls in love with the unfamiliar.

Struck by childlike insanity,

sixteen and thirteen,

we went outside.


The rain continued,

washing over us,

drenching us,

painting us with the unfamiliar.

It called for dancing,



Arms arching overhead,







the rain flowed into our pores,

found our bloodstreams,

reached our hearts,

and made us one with the water,

one with the storm.


We blossomed.


You know what I love?


When the bleeding stops

and I can say these things

and caress the scar

that used to stop me from living,

from loving.


Wasn’t it weak

to hide it beneath long sleeves

and smiles

and lies?

Lying with light

and color

and all the good I could muster.

Wasn’t it weak

to pretend the salt did not sting,

the sunsets kept their color,

the ocean kept her comfort,

to keep to myself 

the hurt that was mine?

You can take so much,

but not what’s in my mind.


You know what I love?


Feminine beauty and strength.

This is not about

skin or

sex or


Empowered women

empower women,

but if empowering

is stealing

and stripping away 

the love,

the worth,

the security

of a woman who 

dances just like you,

loves just like you,

makes music and

color and


just like you,

just like me,

just like ALL OF US

then why would I want a part of that?



is respecting

is loving

is forgiving.


You did not empower me,

but it’s my turn to empower you.


Do better.

I think you can be.

I think you are.

I think you are

beautiful and struggling and strong,

that you taste sunrises and

sing with the sea and

dance the dark places away

just like we all do.


I will never forget what you did

because it made me the woman I am today

and I hope the woman you are today is better.


Because empowered women

empower women.


Your turn.


The road unspools like an asphalt ribbon

as I trace the trail home

foot on the gas,

heart in the past,

Aventura on the stereo.


The green grass melts into brown,

the tall trees to brush.

Palm trees sprout along the roadside

and I erupt on the inside


with memories

that burst

bubble up

overflow into the physicality in front of me

so I can see my ghosts.


Down Combes Rio Hondo Road

I found myself

through sweaty summers

and campfire songs

along the Arroyo.


The Mile 2 West exit

takes me to the school

where I broke and rebuilt

the faith I had in the world

and in friends

and in men.


And finally

my exit:

a right past the hospital,

a left by the park,

and there rests home

with brick walls and 

the big oak

and Christmas lights up year-round


There rests home,

waiting for me

to crack the armor I built

when away.



Silence has been filling,




into the crevices

I cannot complete

with the love of those around me.


I do not want to dissolve,


beneath salty sea

as waves wash over me

and smother my songs,

as they stuff me up,

push me down,

wipe it all away.

Sand slips through wet hands.


I can see them




on the shoreline,

as though they can bring me back

without getting wet.

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