Guest Post: The Fine-Tuning Of Unicorns

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As extinct as they are, you can still keep killing them, over and over. There a unique beauty in that. I guess it works equally for dragons, for unicorns and for lost souls, depending on where your sympathies lie.

“I hate being like this,” she used to say, as each new indignity stole a little more of her freedom. “I have never been so scared.”

What people saw when they looked at her was absolutely not the person she had always felt herself to be.

What they saw – or, at least, what she felt they saw – was an old woman… an obstacle in a shopping queue… a victim in an armchair… something less than what might have been.

It was all too much for a woman who had always resisted the stupidity of defining people by numbers – a woman whose spirit reached so much further.

In my eyes, she was still something truly miraculous. In fact, she was probably more that person to me than she had ever been –

which I guess is the curse of a society that somehow expects people to live the wrong way round.

In a world filtered to ponies, she was what I used to call my unicorn person.

You know what I mean, right?

It’s when you see something that rises bigger and bolder than anything you’ve ever known before. Maybe it’s a cloud whose entire journey through the world’s dying skies, whose entire cargo of ocean treasures, suddenly explodes in your eyes. Or maybe, for the purposes of the story, it’s a horse with a magic twirly horn, galloping where the traffic ought to be.

Doesn’t matter what it is. It could be any one of a gazillion tiny experiences that touch you deep down in the secret places of your spirit and leave you a little closer to forever –

and you know there is only one person you can truly share it with.

So let’s pretend it really is that galloping unicorn you saw.

Go to most people saying: “Seriously, I just saw this stunning unicorn!”

and they will say: “It sounds like a very nice pony.”

“No, really – this was a unicorn! Had a big twisty horn and everything… glowing like a big twisty glowing thing!”

“Yes, ponies can look strange when they gallop past you, can’t they?”

You can speak unicorns ’til you’re blue in the face, but they will filter it to ponies every time.

Not my sacred unicorn lady. Not her. She always heard my unicorns.

A unicorn voice will always save you from the limitations of ponies. It’s the kind of voice that holds your soul together when everything else seems to want to steal it.

It’s the kind of voice that tells you how needed you are, when every part of you that matters feels like it’s been endlessly dissolving in it’s own invisibility.

It’s the kind of voice that will still look deep into your eyes when you struggle to look back.

It’s the kind of voice that will tell you, over and over again, that you have no idea how loved you are, almost as though it is sharing some cosmic secret that was only ever meant to fall on your ears.

It’s the kind of voice that looks deep into the wreckage of your heart, sees through the scars and the pain and the anger and tells you, without a trace of irony, that you are one of the gentlest people on the planet.

It’s the kind of voice that sees what you can’t see in yourself, that says you are her rock when all you can feel is a heart full of jagged stony splinters.

It’s a voice that nobody but you has ever really believed in; a silence that nobody but you has ever heard speak.

At least, that’s what it was for me.

It’s the one thing I’ve ever known that really knew how to nurture me, and it will never stop living behind these eyes, no matter how many ways the world finds to burn the skies out of them.

There have been times when that truth alone has been enough to get me through the day.

It isn’t always like that. Sometimes, it’s a truth that breaks me.

Sometimes, I’m back with the jagged stuff again – the harshness, the lack of kindness, the indifference that creeps in between all the better stuff we ache to be.

And the unicorns are always lurking there, stalking the jungle of small judgements and unseeing souls. But they don’t really look like horses, whatever the storybooks say.

They’re the darkest, smokiest pieces of what we truly are, impossibly hard to pin down and painfully difficult to scrub off after the storm…

and they’re the greatest things we will ever say.

They’re not looking for a resolution or a justification. The world has more than enough right answers already, and they know this.

They’ve heard it all, sideways and backwards and filtered always into the same kind of pony.

But they don’t care. They don’t really look like magic horses.

They look like us… unfiltered.

See more of this poet’s work here:

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