Sequels and Shadows, Letter to a Teenage Self

By Sarah Hackley

Sequels and Shadows

Image © Shanna Waller (

Image © Shanna Waller (

Sequels ruin the fairy tale:
We imagine Scarlett with Rhett,
Cinderella happy.
We hang our faith on the loose hooks
of kindness and tenacity.

In sequels, there are only
more obstacles, more trials,
broken souls. Sometimes poverty
defeats the heroine. Sometimes death
brings nothing but fear.

Unfinished stories are better:
They float and drift,
transform into songs
bringing glitter to shadow,
hope to light.

Letter to A Teenage Self

Image © RaSeLaSeD - Il Pinguino (

Image © RaSeLaSeD – Il Pinguino (

Listen: It isn’t enough
to dull those pains.
There isn’t enough liquor
or willing men in the world
to outrun what you’ve got.
Cages won’t work: feelings
are like cockroaches,
there’s always enough space
to squeeze between the cracks.
You must embrace your sadness,
your joys, your complications
Lean in to all the comes.
Accept this is your lot.

Yes, your heart will break –
again, and again, and again,
as is has before – again
and again, and again.
But listen: It is better
to feel, to want, to grieve.
It is better to live than to hide
in plain sight, drowning
your self in experience.
The moments won’t, can’t
come fast enough
to keep your pain at bay –
no matter how intense, how varied.

Listen as you hold that dull blade
to your pale, trembling wrist
Listen to what I have to say:
This moment right here, now,
with the dark blue handle
of your sewing shears
shaking in your hand,
this moment is the start
of all that is to come.
Do not waste it.


sarah hackleySarah Hackley is the author of Preparing to Fly, a personal finance book for women leaving abusive partners, and Finding Happiness with Migraines: A Do It Yourself Guide.  Her poetry has appeared in numerous anthologies and journals, including the The Bridges of America: Homeless Poetry Anthology, Rawboned, Crucible, and the Austin Younger Poets Award Anthology, and on the walls of the Umlauf Sculpture Garden. She is currently at work on her first novel.

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