The bottom of my dress
like a doily on the dance floor.
Feeling like a princess
As I held Mommy’s hand.
Twirling me all around,
Like a ballerina let out of
Her jewelry box.
My greatest dance partner,
To the best drummer in the band.
If you still lift your head,
From whatever held
When you hear my name.
And I wonder,
If you remember
The love we shared,
Until something else,
Grabbed your attention.
Spend the morning,
Wrapped in cold sheets,
My skin touching yours,
Your warm lips pressed to mine.
The sound of birds all around,
But your heartbeat loud in my ear,
The only song I’ve memorized.
The only thing that is certain,
Whether it comes today,
Or fifty years from now,
Hovering like a bumblebee,
Waiting to sting,
Or rushing out of nowhere,
Like a freight train,
Arriving at its destination,
Marking the end of one journey.
(your heartbeat loud in my ear)
You refused to removed
The small engraved dog tag.
And I didn’t mind
The soft, smooth silver
Cold against my cheek
As I rested my head
Over the top of your chest.
It wasn’t a distraction,
But more of a motivation.
I was just sharing
The same bed with
My husband, but my hero.
I was safe in the protection
Of your arms
And the warmth of your
Body heat under our sheet.
And I was finally relaxed;
No longer tense,
Because you weren’t
Out on a deployment or tour
But safe with me.
(at least for a little while)
But soft and gentle,
Like a bow around a present.
Keeping me safe and secure,
With just enough room to come untied.
To have you to wrap me up
In your arms again.
He was pale. Opaque,
His skin the color
Of a ghost.
For, that's what he was.
I could see right through him
As he moved in front of me.
He was so close,
Right before my eyes.
I wanted to reach out,
Grab him and pull him close.
I wanted to rest my head
Over his exposed chest.
I could see his heart beating
Behind his clear, glass, translucent shell.
For a moment,
He was still alive;
Until I reached
For his hand,
And couldn't feel his wrinkled grasp.
if you find yourself reading this letter,
i hope that i flash through your memories,
and you remember my pale skin,
soft like butterfly wings;
fragile like glass,
and you remember
the simple curves of my body,
lying beside your side,
on the opposite edge of the bed.
i wonder if a memory floats through,
and you remember the way my
eyelids fluttered in the warm sun rays,
covered by cold sheets,
protected by warm hands and
should you remember the way
the newfound promise ring,
fits upon my skinny finger,
and i hope the wrinkles
that surround the silver,
bring you back to this day,
when we were young.
We are not alone,
One broken heart
Does not cry,
Without others crying
Along beside it.
Does not shatter
Into a million pieces,
Without the help of others
Putting it back together.
Does not move on
Without the help,
Of another assisting in its recovery.
To everyone who’s been hurting: for we are all victims in this war of humanity.
We're two rain drops,
Racing up the glass
Of a car, moving through life.
Connected to me,
Like holding my hand,
Never losing me
Within the storm of life.
A sea of what seemed like a thousand or more faces sat before me in the pews. Solemn faces dressed in black, holding back tears stared back at me as I stood behind the small podium and your body lay silently in a wooden box next to me. I swallowed hard, trying to think of what I could possibly start this speech with. No words formed in my mind or thoughts. I looked down at my black chipped finger nail polished, my mind still blank. I took a deep breath.
“I’m sorry.” I muttered, “I can’t do this.”
I walked off the make shift stage, leaving the podium standing by itself, much as I had felt like I’d been left by myself that day next to the hospital bed. Walking over to the first pew, taking a seat next to his parents, I buried my head in my hands and started sobbing all over again. His mom put her arms around me and rocked me slowly, resting her chin on my shoulders.
“I thought I could do it.” I sobbed.
“Sh, you did fine.” his mom whispered.
Out of the corner of my eye, I saw Adam’s dad stand up slowly. Buttoning his suit jacket, he took my place behind the podium. He cleared his throat.
“No parent,” he paused, “should be standing where I am right now.” I looked up at the tall man, resembling Adam like he was his own twin. “There’s so many things I could wish right now,” another pause, “There’s so many things that I wish I knew.” He wiped an escaped tear from the corner of his eye. “But I can’t say that my son, didn’t die a fighter.” And I lost the battle to my sobs once more.
Adam’s dad finished his short speech by thanking everyone for coming and reminding families to hold their loved ones close. It’s something Adam would have wanted him to say and would probably even say it himself; if he’d been around. Adam’s mom, Christine, along with my own mom, held my hands as I walked up to the open casket one last time. Looking inside, seeing Adam completely still with his eyes closed and hands folded across themselves. He looked so peaceful, and reminded me of times when he’d fallen asleep while we’d been hanging out watching movies. I took a deep breath, and rested my hand over his.
“I love you.” I whispered. “I always will.” I’d like to think I noticed the ends of his lips flinch and turn up into a small smile, and his chest take a slight breath, but my eyes had only fooled me. Some more tears escaped and I stepped away.
Walking back through the church aisle in between the pews, people conjugated around glanced at me, and some patted my back or offered a smile. I continued walking to where the car was parked for the procession to the cemetery. I got in the backseat so that Mom and Dad could take their places up front once they were done offering their goodbyes. I stared out the window. The sun beat down and the slightest breeze carried pollen through the air. The beginning signs of Spring.
Arriving at the cemetery, the procession of cars all parked in an organized fashion in a marked spot in the grass. I opened my door slowly and got out. I pulled the cardigan that I wore over my dress tighter around myself, reminding me of your arms, holding me close. I stood in the sun, feeling the rays hit my face as I watched the pal bearers carry your brown casket to where the graveside service would be held.
I walked slowly across the grass, sidestepping headstones of strangers I’d never meet. The same familiar breeze that had blew at the church blew again, blowing my blonde hair out of my face. Mom walked beside me, holding my hand, giving me strength.
I stepped up in front of everyone, ready to give my speech that I’d overly prepared for. Drops of tears spotted the paper I’d written on the night after watching you take your last breath. I cleared my throat and wiped a tear that was escaping down my cheek. The same faces gathered before me. Some looked down and some watched me. Mom gave me a half smile. I took a deep breath.
“I remember the first time Adam told me that he had leukemia.” I started. I took another deep breath. “he thought for sure that I’d never talk to him again or hang out with him.”
I smiled at the crowd, remembering the moment like it was yesterday. A third breath of air, and the wind blew my hair once again.
“Adam was supposed to live less than six months.” I stated. “he lived for almost a whole year after the estimated time frame.” I smiled again. “Last week, as he was laying in the hospital bed, he told me that it was almost time.” I explained. “and I told him to just keep fighting. He told me that he was tired and didn’t want to fight anymore.”
Some tears fell from my eyes, creating fresh marks on the paper that I was barely reading off of. Instead, I had resorted to just telling the story from memory.
“He told me that even though he was losing the battle, he’d already won.” I continued explaining. “I had no idea what he meant. When I asked, he told me that even after learning about his terminal cancer, he’d won my love.”
The wind blew again, a little stronger this time, kissing the tears away from my cheeks. I returned Adam’s kiss by blowing one up into the air, towards the sky.
I want to replay
the roles of Juliet and Romeo,
Sneaking over for each other's company,
Feeling your skin against my own,
Draping me in your cologne.
And I want to wake up,
With my head upon your chest,
Surrounded by the warmth,
Of your button down shirt,
And the protection of your arms.
And nothing else.
I watch your skin stretch and retract,
Like a rubber band,
The tan color of your shell.
I can see the outline of your ribs,
As your arms reach up toward the headboard of the bed.
Your toes point,
Like a ballerina.
And after twisting your body to each side,
You drape your soft skinned arm over my pale waist,
Pulling me in.
I would never
Refer to myself
There's no blood
Stained on my hands,
Except my own.
If my bed wouldn't have turned cold,
I never would have known you'd gone.
Before the sun had risen, your car sped down the street,
And I stayed.
And now Im only a little bit sad.
I gave in once again, to a love I thought you meant.
As I've done over and over again,
Ill wait for your text, your call.
And when you never do,
it wasn't me, but all you.
“That’s what love does to you, right?” she asked. “It makes you happy, and content, and numb.”
She pulled up her sleeve, exposing the clean, ruler-straight scars; the damage coming only from a dissembled, silver razor blade. She moved her fingers slowly up her forearm, feeling the slight rise in flesh, like a train moving over railroad ties, as the skin healed over, creating the scar.
“What do your parents say?” I asked her.
“They don’t know.” she said in a soft voice.
“And if they did?”
“I’d probably be sitting where I am now, talking to you.” she said. “and living in some sort of mental institute for crazy people, along with others who have these same so-called ‘addictions.’”
I made a note on my clipboard. The brown, wooded board serving as a curtain, shielding the notes I was making about the girl sitting across from me. The girl with auburn hair, wearing jeans, a pair of converse shoes, and a gray sweatshirt. From the outside, no one would even suspect her as one to mutilate the skin on her wrist with a sharp tool.
“Do any of your friends know?” I questioned.
“No.” she answered in that same soft voice.
I made another note.
“What would everyone think if they were to find out?” I asked her.
“They’d probably be confused. They wouldn’t like it. Then they‘d probably hold one of those interventions, then ship me to the institute for the crazies.” she explained.
“So then why do it?”
There was a long silence. Neither of us said anything. I waited for her answer, as she put together the words in her head before saying them out loud.
“I like it.” she whispered. “I like the way my skin swells up and leaves the smallest rise of a scar.” she paused again, collecting some more thoughts. “It takes away all the other pain I’m feeling, it makes me numb. That’s what love is supposed to do.”
“It’s not healthy.” I told her.
“Is the kind of love between two people healthy? When it’ll all eventually come to an end?”
For the first time since entering the small cubicle after coming into the therapy center, she’d shown emotion. The soft whisper she’d been using the whole time disappeared, rising to a higher volume as she argued my point of self harm and how it isn’t safe. I sensed a hint of anger as she looked me dead in the eye looking for an answer to the question she’d fired at me. She leaned back into the small comfortable chair across from me. She took a Kleenex out of the box and wiped her fresh tears that had began falling down her cheeks.
She took a deep breath. “I’m not depressed.” she paused. “I don’t want to kill myself and I don’t want to die.” She took another Kleenex from the box. “But I know this kind of love won’t ever come to an end.”
“Until you cut too deep.”
each new shake of the square box,
another white stick.
the lighter to burn her death certificate
after her lips have already signed.
Every Monday morning,
My teacher repeats the same command.
"Look alive" she says,
Even though, I already feel dead.
Along with all the other days of the week too.
And add to that list,
The past few weeks,
And since you've been gone,
Go ahead and add the past year too.
That it's Monday,
But I know that's not true.
It's that you've been long gone,
But a part of me,
Still seems to miss you.
Your love is treacherous.
It lights my heart in flames,
Gasoline shooting up my veins.
Adding fuel to my fire.
But your love doesn't burn,
My flesh is raw and tolerant,
To your high degree of heat.
The return to the constant burn is simple.
Each new inhale provides,
That same addictive rush
The way the flesh swells,
the ruler straight, clean line,
where blood beads up on top of the skin.
Another tally mark to note the pain.
The swelled wound rising and conquering,
claiming the title to the throne of flesh.