amaryllis (/ˌæməˈrɪlɪs/) – bears the name of the shepherdess in virgil's pastoral eclogues. it stems from the greek ἀμαρύσσω (amarysso), meaning "to sparkle", and it is rooted in "amarella" for the bitterness of the bulb. the common name, "naked lady", comes from the plant's pattern of flowering that blooms when the foliage dies. in the victorian language of flowers, it means "radiant beauty".
foreword: “The one consistency in my life, from childhood to the teenage years of angst and to the blooms of young adulthood, has been writing. I wrote to make sense of the world around me and of myself, I wrote to express myself, I wrote to connect to the world and to myself.
This is a collection of poetry written between the ages of sixteen and twenty. Brian Molko of Placebo, who was the soundtrack to my teenage years and the one who hypnotised me with rawness and alluring born-to-die sadness, once said that, when you are a teenager, you react to the world that surrounds you with great emotionality and intensity, with full heart. He mused that growing older is a process of finding semblances of sanity. This collection aims to illustrate exactly that; it is not written by an adult looking back with maturity, nor tenderness to their early years, but by the teenager who is in the midst of experiencing the turbulent highs and lows of being thrown into life.
This collection of poetry was a creative project I compiled as an undergraduate student of Creative Writing at Lancaster University. It includes unpublished work, as well as work that has already been published.
It is structured in three sections: ‘teenage angst’, ‘my loss is my root’ and ‘at last, light’, which chronicle the journey to adulthood through churn, grief, and joy.
You may notice that the poetry is written in lowercase. More than an aesthetic choice, lowercase marks the teenage search for identity and reflects how disconnected teenagers feel to themselves. As a teenager myself, I found it difficult to capitalise ‘I’-s, as it seemed as if I was proclaiming who I was before I knew.
This collection explores the beginning of the search for the ‘I’.
the cover art i fall in love with more and more every day is by Holly Robinson
the last few days have been tender, and last night i was happy to reconnect with a friend from university whom i studied film with. we exchanged kind words as well as poetry. after we both shared that we warmed each other’s hearts, i found myself thinking how much i treasure these brief moments of connection, yet how i often don’t enjoy them fully because i generally am so immersed in my mind palace and narratives, so overly focused on my insecurities, internal drama or questions of right and wrong that the beauty of life passes me by. i mentally noted a line i could have seen in a poem, ‘to bring and receive a little beauty to and from others is enough’, and i scribbled this quick poem this afternoon.
to live to cry a little to bring a touch of beauty to others to keep my heart soft even when i’m scared to feel my childhood’s wounds with tenderness to share my mind with fullness to come to understand the world with my fingertips what else is there
reflections written in the park i walked every day in during the most tumultuous years of my teens. as the trees have changed, so have i, yet as the trees have remained the same, so have i. leaving home with renewed faith in the only one who can deliver me: myself.
As time slowly unfolded, daylight shimmered through the loss, the ache, the anguish. Softness had been there, inside of me, all along: underneath the grief, underneath the relentless self-loathing and merciless depression, a sweet softness shimmered through.
🦋 Medium launched an invitation to writers on their platform to share their pandemic stories & experiences, in retrospect of hitting our 3-year mark following the outbreak. here is my own story, entitled ‘Daylight’. ☀️
In 2020, I spent nine months in isolation in England, out of which five were spent mostly by myself, save for the company of my pet-rabbit. Flight bans and regional restrictions resulted in solitary celebrations of Easter and Christmas, away from my family, who lived miles away from me, in Romania. I marked the completion of my undergraduate degree with a glass of wine in front of my computer’s screen, and my graduation ceremony consisted in taking a selfie wearing an academic cap I had ordered online. I held my 22nd birthday party on ZOOM and began my postgraduate degree in my bedroom.
The first months of the pandemic saw me grappling with grief, unease, and anxiety. My struggle was not with solitude, which I cherished deeply. Truthfully, I have always treasured the time spent with myself, which I often had to defend from family, friends, lovers. I love connecting with people and opening to them, but I crave quietude, I crave me, I crave meeting myself in stillness. Indeed, the first lesson isolation taught me was that I had internalised my need to be alone as something that I needed to fix. Furthermore, the need to justify my alone time to others had left me feeling inadequate. There was joy in letting that contraction go, gratitude in having endless time to spend with myself, and relief in not having to eternally explain my seclusion. In my tiny room, I explored boundless universes through my imagination, through books and poetry, I felt held by friends through the internet, and, in the depth of my aloneness, I realised how tightly connected our world is.
Nonetheless, my struggle dealt with the uncertainty of the future. I had tightly held onto the illusion of control for most of my life, and the pandemic roughly forced me to face that nothing had been in my hands all along. This realisation filled me with unspeakable dread. My mind spun restlessly, and there were many tears.
However, as time slowly unfolded, daylight shimmered through the loss, the ache, the anguish. Isolation offered me silence, tranquillity, and time: time to read, to study, to feel into myself, to observe my mind and my patterns. I learned to cradle myself, I taught myself gentleness and the importance of rest, I found the courage to ask for help when needed.
And, in the silence, the second lesson I was offered was that of trust. Isolation guided me to cultivate a heartfelt trust to the flow of life. I learned that I never had the power to obstruct, control or manipulate it. I began my days with the beautiful prayer written by Reinhold Niebuhr: ‘Grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change, courage to change the things I can, and wisdom to know the difference.’ And there was kindness.
This process led me to continuously unearth myself. At first, by way of tears, clumsily. And, as my fears began to soften, daringly. In the silence, my heart, jammed tight for such a long time, cracked open; it was heavy and silken, wrenching, and tender. I cried and I prayed, I wrote, and I danced. I laughed and I lit candles. I made amends and I drank. I howled and asked for forgiveness. I digested life and rested in the pause. As old wounds unravelled and mended, I felt soft and mushy, in awe with how much beauty and loss my heart could feel; all at once.
On a particularly tender night, I felt as if I finally returned to myself: as if I finally met myself for the first time. A quiver, a gentle ‘hey, that’s me’. And love, acceptance, marvel rushed through. Softness had been there, inside of me, all along: underneath the grief, underneath the relentless self-loathing, underneath the merciless depression, a sweet softness shimmered through. Life has unfolded sweetly since then; not smoothly or painlessly, but sweetly. There is an intrinsic sweetness that shines through: through the beautiful and the not so beautiful, through the silly, the mundane, the harrowing. Grace. On the very same tender night, I wrote in my journal:
‘Fears blossom into devotion in the palms of my hands. I bathe in what is. And there is only daylight.’
And I trust that there will be. As Mr. Leonard Cohen would sing, ‘There is a crack in everything. That’s how the light gets in.’
There will be kindness.
photo: mid-isolation in 2020, when my hair was wild & my mind heavy. wearing my mother’s dress.
*sing-songs*: my love was as cruel as the cities i lived in / and i’ve been sleeping for so long in a 20-year dark night / but now i see daylight, daylight, daylight