This poem took three weeks to write.
Actually, this poem took three weeks to begin. Three weeks of picking up my pen and waiting, thoughts swirling, for something to become ink on the anxious page in front of me.
And when it finally did begin, it didn't grow like a seedling, reaching wide-eyed towards the sun, vibrant and lush and increasingly more green.
It sat like a rock in my gut, a ball of words wound so tightly together that for weeks no amount of elbow grease or bribery would loosen it.
Its gestation was like that of a real child, complete with the accompanying symptoms of discomfort, dizziness, and a perpetually churning stomach. So many times bitter uncertainty would rise up into my mouth, ***** fingers scrabbling at the inside of my throat, only to be swallowed down again and again as I blinked back tears. This is a feat easily accomplished when in the privacy of one’s own room, in the corner where all the pillows have been shoved and you’ve stashed a box of tissues for emergencies like this. But under the fluorescent light of high school halls, the task is considerably more difficult. There people notice when you’ve tilted your head to let your hair hide your face, when your eyes are glassy and red, ringed by damp lashes.
But then you remember you can do something with this baby bundle of words that you cannot with a real child; you can pretend it isn’t there.
So I did, though maybe not entirely conscious of the choice. All the same, who wouldn’t choose to look through the lens that makes the world seem, well, okay, over the one whose warped glass leaves you forever nauseous from the disturbing view before you. The swelling around your eyes will subside, the bitter taste of unease will recede from your mouth, and the knot in your gut will shrink until it is barely noticeable. You’ll suit up for battle in your transparent armor, made especially for convincing the world that nothing is wrong.
At least for a while.
Because eventually, your white kid gloves won’t be able to hide the blood on your hands anymore. And when it begins to seep through the soft fabric, you remember that everyone already knew it was there.
I’d been branded the villain on that Sunday months ago, with red hot iron so it would never be missed. Beneath it are “selfish,” “heartless,” and “thoughtless,” burned into my skin.
As though it had been easy.
As though I enjoyed doling out hurt and pain like chocolate pudding.
As though I was proud of the Lego house I’d crushed.
I’ve always been one for excuses. I don’t like when my words leave my mouth one way, but arrive on a listener’s tongue dipped in a foreign sauce and spiced to change their flavor. But even I know when not to be defensive. Because after all this, now that seemingly everyone knows of the crimes I’ve committed, I understand.
Go ahead, look at me.
Judge me for what I've done. Whisper amongst yourselves about my fall from whatever grace I had been clinging to. Snarl at my carelessness. Glare at me, isolate me, condemn me.
I have to live with me.
If there is one person who can truly understand the depth of the wound, of the pain, it’s the person wielding the knife.
I don’t need to be reminded that I made a mistake. But I also don’t need to continually be explaining why it wasn't all a mistake. It has been cathartic enough to unwind the strand of words that wrote this poem, digging out the marrow of my sorrow and analyzing it as truth or fiction.
I don’t need anyone else to comb me through with iron spikes of guilt. I sleep on them every night. Until you've slept beside me, until you've heard the voice I hear ringing in my ears as I try to steal away into my dreams, do not try to tell me you “know how I feel.”
That voice screams things too horrid, too terrifying to be uttered aloud.
I've learned a lot of things. I've learned that there’s no going to hell and back, no, once you’re there, you’re staying there.
So yes, I suppose if you like you can tell your friends I've moved in with Hades for good, if that is how you see it. But with his lengthy experience with the human race, he knows that pretending nothing is wrong does not equate not caring.
~to be continued~
This is a work in progress. Any suggestions are welcome.