Poetry & Photography by Arsal Asal
She holds the shredded glass in her hand
A flare hits her face
She becomes a ghost
The Sun breaks the purity of her innocence
And her dance begins with fire
Her skin burns; her hair is caught on fire
Green turns to blue
Glaze in her eyes gaze
Dust suffocates shadows drift
Her eyes closed she rams the gloom
The waltz begins the envious flutter
The birth of the futile virtue
Deems the soul of the corrupt
It’s all dark but the royal follows the dusk
The jarred struggle to grasp
Yet he rumbles the foreign
And he endures the virgin’s affection
For the first time in his life
Feels with his eyes and sees with his heart
Love that is less passionate than he felt for a lover
Yet more affectionate than he felt for a sister
Lust that challenges coalitions forever
Greed of wanting to make her feel better
While fearing hurting her by executing her monster
A requiem for the wasted
Hailing the gullible
The wicked persuade him to be the victor
Though the sick will always struggle to part the utter
And that’s why he will end up being the joker
I met Emerald on a cold San Francisco night. Initially planning to become tipsy, I ended up becoming so drunk that I had to step out and take some fresh air. As I leaned my back against the brick wall, my eyes closed, tuning into the low frequency song that I was able to hear from the bar, I was suddenly awoken by the parched husky voice of a green haired woman: “can I bum one?”
Forgetting that I don’t carry cigarette packs because I identify myself as a “casual smoker,” I nodded my head. As I searched my pockets, I realized I didn’t have any. Then I realized I wasn’t smoking, either. I stood there confused––her large blue eyes gazing me. Before I could say anything she looked at me and went “Jeez, it’s okay. I can bum one off someone else, you just looked like a smoker.”
I watched her walk away and drunk-me became fixated on the idea of finding a cigarette, while lazy me was way too insecure to ask around. Frustrated, I leaned back against the wall again. My friends came out to check on me but I refused to go back inside. I was enjoying the breeze and the idea of going back into the bar was suffocating.
In my own intoxicated world, softly singing the tunes, I heard her voice again. “Here you go.” I see her holding a lit, half-smoked cigarette. I would have sprinted out of happiness––like Charlie did when he found that damn golden ticket––and I’m pretty sure my mind did sprint a mile in that moment. I took a drag.
That night, in front of a local bar, this woman shared her story with me. To this day, I’m still not able to remember the details. She was hurt––deep. She poured her heart into a drunk stranger because it was carefree. She didn’t rely on me keeping her secret, the terms didn’t apply, we were both drunk, and she was right.
Two weeks later as I searched my laptop for an assignment, I found a poem, written by me, the night of. As I read what I wrote, I realized a number of things: 1. her name was not Emerald, 2. I am a smoker in denial and 3. I probably needed to change my friend group, since I had basically chosen chatting with a stranger over hanging out with my friends.
But at the end of the day, in my own way, I tried to write a tribute to her past and, in a way to celebrate her existence. For that, she will always have a special place in my own existence. This piece, then, is for her––written my drunk self. Thank you, Emerald.
Arsal has created and collaborated on several short film and photography projects since 2014 both in the US and in her home country Turkey. She graduated from the New School located in New York with a degree in Media Studies with a concentration in digital filmmaking and a certificate in screenwriting in 2016 and moved to San Francisco, CA to work as a creative editor in a tech company. She was back in Turkey during 2017 for the production of her most recent short film “Kul”. She is currently obtaining her MS in Digital Arts degree in San Jose, CA. Arsal applies her background in psychology and business along with her passion for travel, activism and writing to explore and execute projects to represent the moving image and story telling.