Selah, My Soul

Words and photos by Stacy Tan

I went to Swansea, Wales, by myself early this year to spend some time recuperating from a rough season. The sweet, bucolic town — where the Welsh poet Dylan Thomas was born and bred — is supposedly the second largest city in Wales; but to a girl who has spent her entire life in a bustling metropolis, it is no more than a small, seaside town where life seemed to slow down long enough for you to do the same. It latches onto your heart, and whispers, “there, there, you can be quiet here too.”

It was just coming out of winter and one could already begin to taste the edges of spring. On days when the sunlight managed to break through the canvas of grey sky, I would take long walks down the length of Mumbles Beach, right down to the pier. I walked for hours at a time, on and on, till the sky dwindled to a velvety darkness. What was I looking for, exactly? Answers? Forgiveness? Healing? Or was it a little of everything?

On reflection, I think it was mostly peace — selah, if you will — a re-alignment of both heart and mind to something that was greater than myself. Perhaps this collection of photos and poems will speak to you in the way that writing them has helped in my healing process.

1. rhythm

if your heart is a splintered log
let it ruminate in the
whitewashed morning
keel over from the feeling so keenly
the agony of being-
i am only filled with echoes.
& if the darkness touches you
does it also define you
(or is the silent promise of the light
that is to come)
& then all at once, over
lavender, the violet blinding spell
ending with the recognition
that i will never get this rhythm
i can only try



2. Stranger

She asked
where are you from?

I said
not from here

to which she replied
no one is.



3. (mumbles)

Beautiful, the drifting,
my tendency is to fall off the face
of the earth & never return
but hey, wait, a hair’s breadth
red, I’m coming round the bend

& I know here on this pier, the twist
is final – I straddle the dark thought
if you want to scream, let it out
the irrefutable rock tightened from
unhurried steps will absorb it well.

mumbles – the name of the place –
as lovely as the words “freckles”, “dappled”
it’s leaning into your ear & yawning
you have already happened.
slight as the next inflection of tongue

you have already happened.
& through the thicket, you missed it
thistle, whistle, missed it
oh, & then you found it
& well, God knows you’re trying.




4. Red Doors

Most days I am in love with the world. The sharp syrupiness of strawberry jam, the bitter kick of my morning espresso. Walking down the little lane that cuts through fields of wild grass, drifting through the mist that rises from it like steam. The red doors I see on the way to town —

one, two, three, four, five, six

I collect them and before the afternoon is over, I have half a dozen or so sitting in my mind’s eye. They are so out of place in the quotidian — so stark is the scream of colour that it lifts me out of daydream. I love it all, I am basking in the pleasure of being present; I am treading lightly on this beautiful earth. On days like these, there is always a quickening of heart, a deep appreciation for the little things, an unspeakable gratitude.

Most days I am love with the world, but then some days, I’m not. They are unsuspecting and they come like a suffocating wave, those sunken mornings and heavy nights. On days like these, I pray for strength, strength to remember all of it: the strawberries, the grass fields, the six little red doors, all of these bright beacons of hope in bleakness… I rub the memory on my chest like soothing balm. I breathe in, say again and again:
I’m still here

I’m still here

I’m still



…till I remember the rhythm. Till I remember it well. How could I forget it? It is sweetness; it is hope. It is within. It is there, has always been, will remain until the very end of age.

Selah my soul, selah.

STACY has always been intrigued by words & music from a young age & was amazed at what could be created when you strung the two together — a song. When she isn’t writing poems and songs, reading, or traveling solo around the world, she enjoys taking photos and writes at Follow her creative journey on Instagram @stacecake.


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