Burning

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It was amazing that I had saved the suicide notes for so long; as if someday I might need them again.
Personalized: to my boyfriend, my mother, my sister, the world.
I couldn’t bear to read them. My script was neat and blocky like a child’s.
The house was quiet and empty, fake adobe, sand-colored.
The trees lining the yard reminded me of other places I’d been. I felt safe.

I sat in the gravel next to the deck and gripped a lighter in the wind. I needed to make the papers disappear. The sun sank behind the cottonwood and piñon behind me, dimming the evening’s light and causing goose bumps to rise along my calves and forearms.

The flame flashed and danced below the first paper. Once the fire caught, it spread quickly, sending off surprisingly tall and scalding flames. I wasn’t thinking about what the letters contained; what lies I had been telling myself back then.

I was thinking that everyone has a future. There would be a friend’s marriage, an illness, a sunset, new sneakers, a birthday – something yet to occur. I was thinking about the cup of coffee I would have the next morning, with half and half in a handmade ceramic mug.

The papers crumbled into black-and-white ashes that writhed in the heat.

Were the neighbors watching, wondering what this girl outside was doing, crouching in the gravel with a lighter? For a second I thought I smelled flesh burning beneath the smoke.

We are all dying, but let it be unplanned. Let our regrets sink into the earth like ashes. Let us carry on as if nothing bad will happen.

Resolved

Why did you leave me that night
terrified, all alone in that big house
sloppy and stumbling and then throwing up
and not remembering and chewing pills
and taking long gulps of gin and vodka, why
did you leave, how could you?

And when she asked, “Resolved?”
I said yes.
And she marked it down on the chart then
said, as an afterthought
“I guess those things are never really resolved though.”

Hints

I drop them, breadcrumbs
as I trudge through the dark forest
Find me, Save me
Stolen away by mice
Trampled by leather boots
because my friends are looking at their phones

I throw them, handfuls
Save me, Help me
They fidget at the discomfort
of crumbs down their shirt, loosen the collars
What a nuisance

I am not hinting anymore
Breadcrumbs pour from my sleeves
Eyes dripping in pain
Everyone walking
looks away

Tightrope

I’ve been walking a tightrope between life and death,
waiting to see on which side I will fall.
I’ve become so wilted, anguished and bereft,
tangled up in your miserable thrall.

A ladder of scars ascends my sharp ribs,
each rung marking a body filled with pain.
I cannot climb down now that I’ve reached the top;
the winds howl for my soul in seductive refrain.

The decision lies now in my quaking two feet,
whether I’m to fight on or surrender.
All alone high above tiny houses and streets,
I realize I’m the only contender.

Saying Goodbye

I built a shrine for you.
A shark tooth, two feathers,
a jagged piece of crystal.

How does anyone say goodbye?
A kiss? A hug? A wave?

I need your blood running
down my arms, into my veins,
becoming me. DNA entwining.

Let’s go out together,
holding hands, a picnic of pills
before us, a celebratory glass
of champagne. Fingers meshed.

We are two, we are one,
we are nothing.