dani evelyn Nov 14

my hands are far too full
to touch the faces of boys
who have left me behind.
my hands were made for
holding the universe together,
for catching shooting stars
in the palm.
they are meant for
flying over piano keys,
for writing down all the words
i want to remember, for
making hot chocolate
on the latest of nights.
they are not there to
reach behind me
for someone who isn’t coming back.

it took twenty one years
but all at once, i feel like a person
who tucks her own damn self
into bed, who
stays up late drinking
wine with people she loves, who
wears a short skirt to the party.
all at once, i use lotion,
i eat vegetables, i only wear
clean pajamas.
i have picked myself up off the floor
enough times for my sadness
to stop being interesting.
my damsel-in-distress routine
had an expiration date, after all

and now, all my dreams are
everywhere all at once --
of getting married,
of having friends and keeping them,
of being the kind of person
i can be proud of being.
they are twisting through the soles of my feet
like vines, something strong,
with roots. i am sick of
fleeting promises and
flimsy maybe-nots
i am only in the market for the
deep and long-lasting.

and without even knowing how,
here i am:
the strongest thing you’ve ever seen.

dani evelyn Sep 24

I think that, from far away, I must look like a girl.  
every flaw de-magnified, every bit of too-much-ness
made lesser by default.
if you silhouette me, my edges are soft.
cast my shadow, she is fragile and delicate.
she is small and palatable.
she is the absence of the existence of me.

my body has become something i crumple and drag
underneath me like a dead thing.
i stuff it into jackets,
zipped up like a body bag.
it has been years and years
since the ghost-flesh of my torso has seen the sun.
i couldn’t tell you how it feels to walk outside
and not check the ground
for somewhere to swallow me.
i couldn’t tell you how it feels
to touch this skin
and believe that it’s mine.

if this body were an evening gown
i’d take it straight to the tailor –
i’d ask him to take up the hem
so i can stop stumbling.
i’d tell him to switch out the scratchy tulle
for the softest fleece.
i’d beg him to loosen it up around the ribcage
so i could finally
take one, real, gasping breath of air.

dani evelyn Sep 4

the fact of it is:
you can’t just
make me feel
like i matter to you
and then
it isn’t polite.
it is very unkind to my heart
and i think you should come back,
as fast as that car can drive
through new york city traffic.
i think you should wrap your arms around me
and spin me in the air
(like you did just three weeks ago)
and tell me
you’re sorry
for making me feel unimportant –
that you didn’t mean it –
that it was all a mistake –

you can ignore me and ignore me
but what i’m trying to say is
i won’t give up
on trying to reach you,
because that’s what people do when they love each other.
i’ll keep at it
until the day
you say, with words,
that you don’t want me in your life anymore.
that is all you have to do,
and i swear i will bury your phone number,
i will donate our memories to goodwill,
i will peel off all the skin you touched
and take it out with the trash.

okay, maybe i’m bluffing --
it's fitting, the last resort
of the desperate.
i am trying to say
a thing i cannot say.
i am trying to reach
through time and space
for a thing i cannot have.
i can’t think of a thing i wouldn’t give
for one last honest conversation.

and listen, we don’t have to be in love.
i may never stop thinking about
the night i slept at your house
but that is my problem, not yours.
i don’t need you to be in love with me,
i just need you
to be with me.

what i’m trying to say is
i’m going to need you to come back,
and this is not a request,
and i don’t know how to say this softly.

what i’m trying to say is
i am absolutely begging you.

dani evelyn Aug 12

cutting your hair
and packing your bags,
it’s drinking champagne
in your best pair of jeans.
growing out bangs,
unbuttoning shirts –
to think yours had been closed up to the
throat, all these years –
and everything, all white.
sunburned noses
and no makeup, it’s
less backward glances
and more plans
for the future.
it’s holding a conversation
and making eye contact,
it’s meeting a man
and letting your feet
grow roots.
more music, less running,
more danger, and more safety,
and it’s
finally, having a taste
for the classics.

dani evelyn Aug 6

we can’t say we like each other
so we drink vodka cranberry out of the same cup,
a pale substitute
for kissing.
we can’t say we like each other,
so you picked a leaf to put it in my hair
and kept a piece in your shirt pocket.
we can’t say we like each other
so i listen to your favorite band
and you take too long to say goodnight to me at the top of the stairs.

i can’t say i like you,
so i will say that
ireland will be lucky to have you.
and after that, ohio.
and after that, wisconsin.
and i will think about the night we sat outside talking at 3 am
and not about the literal ocean
that is about to come between us.
not about the way
you’ll hold the hand of a pretty irish girl
and forget all about me.

if i could rewind time
i would meet you ten weeks ago.
i would tell you i never want to spend time with anyone else.
i would bring you out to the soccer field
and we will look up at the stadium lights
as if something inevitable wasn’t about to happen.

we can’t say we like each other,
so we’ll say goodbye tomorrow
and stuff the things we wish we could say
under our tongue.
i will thank you for lending me that book.
i will wish you a safe trip.
i will not mention the piece of your guitar string
in my back pocket.
i will not say

dani evelyn Jul 29

i’m sick of the way you look me dead in the eye
and say you do not want me.
if there was a way i could curl up in the space behind your eyes
just to figure out what, exactly, your brain is going on about,
catch me hiking up the expanse of your cheekbones.
i wouldn’t miss it for the world.

thank you for making me laugh til my stomach hurts.
i’ve been thinking about the way you touched my back
for two weeks.
i don’t know how to make you understand
the way my heart opened all the doors
to make room for you
despite doing all i could
to keep you out

and the truth is,
i'm past the point of being able to deny you anything.
so build me up and break me down,
take my hope and let it shatter,
a vase on the kitchen tile.
tell me you love me
when we both know
it's not in the way i want.
tell me you'll stay
when we both know
you cannot do anything but leave.
put your hand on my back again.

but let me sing and kiss the broken pieces.
let me try to forget
that you ever even touched me.
let me make myself
i am better off.

dani evelyn Jun 23

restless twenty year old nights call to mind
warm sixteen year old ones,
running barefoot in the driveway,
sitting silent on the porch,
resting my head
on the shoulder of a boy
i thought i could predict.
at sixteen, i thought the best thing about the world
was that i did not have to participate in it –
i thought to shut my mouth and close my ribs
was a certain kind of honor.
i am reaching, reaching, reaching back to that girl,
wondering why she chose to throw all her joy away,
wondering if she knows
how much she must
how important it is
to learn how to care again.

if i could say one thing to danielle circa 2012
i would tell her to
buckle her seatbelt,
i would tell her to
remember the boy in the hospital bed.
i would tell her that
learning to open her chest again is
entirely worth the night she will spend
sobbing on the highway at 1 am.
i would tell her
to stop putting people in boxes,
i would say
to write more poems
that aren’t about dying.

maybe someday
twenty four year old danielle
will write a poem to me,
and maybe she will say
there’s a big storm
coming; maybe
she’ll sing sonnets to
the love and loss
that will one day buckle my knees
and send me running
into doorframes.
and maybe it’s okay
that i don’t have a raincoat.
maybe that’s just
how it goes.

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