All that happened was on a bright blue day
I saw you bent over your bike in the heat
your bronze back arched with knobs of spine
as if the knuckles of some creature were
trying to press their way out of your ribcage
stretching your bones like hungry claws
All that happened was I fell in love
with the delicate curve of your skeleton
wrapped in freckles and blonde
All that happened was I returned home with
a sheen of sweat on my forehead
and a hunger for your heart
It’s been a while since I wrote.
It’s been a while since I felt safe in this body,
and curled into my thoughts for a rest,
without learning each breath by rote.
It’s been a month since Hell grabbed me by the ankle.
I was laid out on a hospital table.
When the man asked me what happened I couldn’t recall,
but my body tells the tale when it’s able.
This body shows the story I wrote.
I did it to myself. I put the pen to skin and it broke;
The Hell, I wrote into my fable.
it is no one’s business what i do to my body
with my body
or with knives
if smothering my wrists in bruises keeps me alive
how many times will the hospital take me in?
my sister is on another continent
humming with jungle creatures
and i am tempted to go to sleep in the snow
they say the body feels warm again
at the end of hypothermia
please don’t ask why
i hate trying to explain that i’m sad for
some things can’t be explained
there’s no reason
one best friend is in portland
one best friend is on another continent
buzzing with rickshaws, i guess
i am tempted to fall asleep in a bottle of wine
they say you feel very tired
in the final stage of cirrhosis
People see my body and stare.
Then look away,
Drawn towards me. They want to envelop me,
cover me, save me, protect me.
Shelter me like a roof. Catch the raindrops
from hitting my face.
My face is open to pain.
My face is a book of betrayal.
My face was painted with dying hope.
I am in love with being loved.
Having love forced on me- making love-
of having it shoved in me, twisted and jabbed
and my voice smothered and stifled,
hands ensnared, throat crushed.
Am I in love with this?
Drawn towards me, they want to envelop me,
smother me, wreck me, infect me.
Scatter me like ashes, spread me thin in a windstorm
so my body will never be connected
They tell me I am in love with being broken.
They stare, and they know my body is theirs.
It has never been mine.
There are cracks where past lovers shine through.
We will do that for you
so they tell me.
I called you.
A month ago
I left you a voicemail, cordial
with a tinge of plaintive.
Could you tell?
You were drifting on the Hudson,
teaching schoolchildren about tides
or sailing or algae.
Were you cold there, at night?
I think of you when I can’t sleep,
and want to apologize
for pointing that knife at you
when we were kids.
Being a kid
doesn’t excuse that.
I am also sorry
for using my hands and words on you,
or not using them at all.
My silence might have been
the most painful tool.
Tomorrow I fly away
to another home, missing you
We’ll share the sky,
gazing at the same fleecy clouds
and patchwork fields,
absorbed in our own respective storylines.
Mom always wanting to know
are those new? And where
did you get those pants, where are you
going tonight, when will you be back,
what did you two do and how is she and
have you dealt with what we discussed?
Mom always watching, me stepping
on eggshells all over the house.
Me creeping on tiptoe midday. Me
disappearing into my room where
I stashed the champagne.
With nothing to celebrate
I toast to blurriness.
I am sixteen.
Mom always nice, but not nice.
Mom comforting, staying up with me.
Mom slapping, brushing me off, Mom
with sharp blades in her voice.
Dad leaving the room, leaving, leaving.
Me asking for love and shrinking.
Me alone in my room.
Me in bed swallowing aspirin after aspirin.
I just turned sixteen, today. Me alone in bed.
It’s been a long time since I have written here about how I am and what’s been going on with me. I am reaching out now because I need support, I need affirmation, and reassurance.
I have been okay. And yet/on the other hand/also/somehow… I am not okay at all.
Things are good in that I have been getting outside, taking care of my body, and keeping busy. Trying to find solace in nature. But it’s not always enough. What about my mind, and my emotions, and mental health? I try to work on them, to focus on improving my emotional regulation and coping skills. But somehow that always gets pushed aside. School comes first. Work comes first. Physical health comes first. How do I take care of myself emotionally? Some days I’m not sure I even know how to. At all.
I have slowly been breaking down under all the demands.
I think I will have to quit grad school. Until now I have always found a way to power through my classes and assignments, push through the rough patches, and scrape by in the end. I don’t know if I can do that right now. It’s breaking me.
Facing the idea of dropping out of school is at once relieving and terrifying. What is my purpose if not for this degree and this career? Who will I become; what will I do?
I’m scared of what will happen if I keep going. I like this program but it is so emotionally demanding and exhausting. And I’m so tired. I just want to rest.