I am not old, yet.
My skin is not powdery and white, see-through like a paper lantern.
But there is a part of me which
When I dare to reach for someone I love
Reaches with brittle ***** fingers, soft and cold and fluttering like white moths
That edge closer to a flame until they catch.
There is a part of me that feels old, and fragile.
And already even in the crest of my youth I’ve cursed this body
For its frailty, its needs.
It suffers and complains, always crying out for something,
Never sated, never still.
I’ve said it feels like living inside a porcelain doll
A look, and cracks can spider out along an arm,
A word and blood can bloom beneath the surface, seeping up into
Bruised pictures and symbols.
I must always be gentle,
I must always be
Too passionate, and fissures form, marring the cheek, spreading like shadows thrown by a lace curtain.
I stare out, burning to touch everything,
And yet I pull back:
To dare is to risk, and I’ve seen
Both reward and loss.
I have seen a thousand shining colors spread across me like sunrise,
Warming my skin,
Calling to me like prayer until a bit of light escaped through the spaces between my atoms and reached another person’s palms,
But I have also seen the pale, flat shards of myself,
Sifted through white dust in dismay
For a salvageable portion.
Indeed, there are rooms in this world where sharp edges of me still linger
Waiting in obstructed corners and beneath heavy refrigerators
To gouge a foot or snag a hem,
In the dark and hollow places where they flew when I shattered and could not gather them all.
I have known
My own fragility,
How maddeningly breakable I am
And how difficult to mend.
And there is a part of me now, always,
Which whispers to me when I would be bold,
“You are not old, yet.
But wouldn’t you just love
To live that long?”
*title is a quote from T.S. Eliot's The Lovesong of J. Alfred Prufrock