person feels a wave of heat through their neck and face when struck with a thought of their ex boyfriend. a ninth grader gives them a ***** look. person leans against a cold cinderblock wall and relaxes their face. focus on the empty space between the eyeballs and the brain. feel the limp arms and identify the beat of a pulse running through them. repeat after me: self care is boring.
paul laurence dunbar knows why the caged bird sings. he never wanted to be an elevator operator. it's a point of privilege. person asks a ninth grader if a bird could see the wind, the river, the sun. "oh... no..."
one thing person notices time and again is that when these students drop something they do not pick it up. they let someone else do it. where person is from it is not like that. students would not help person like that, they think.
person remembers one time, when they themselves were in the ninth grade, dropping their lunchbox in a crowded hallway and picking it up swiftly in the next step without slowing down. a tall boy behind them said "smooth". person felt proud at the time. person feels good remembering this.
lots of things have changed recently.
i make eye contact with myself and ask why i won't stop scratching at the insides of my ears and well you know nobody should have to look at themselves in the mirror and i know i told you before how sorry i am for thinking you're cute but the voice you heard wasn't even mine, not really, and an instagram post won't solve anything because when my eyes are closed i don't know where my hands are and i thought my roommate was home this whole time but she just came in so who walked the dog? was it me? is this like when i called from the kitchen floor and you wouldn't come over, or more like the time i thought you were going to die and spent the night in your barn - no it isn't like that, couldn't be like that because i learned to skip class and sing with birds.
the first time i got kicked out of a public restroom i did not tell my parents but when home and used my mother's mirror to have a staring contest with my scrawny eight year old reflection (and of course i could not defeat myself). i threw away the hand-me-down cutoff denim shorts and begged for pierced ears.
i can't fit between my hat and my boots and still you treat me like i am here - you think you need to face a certain direction for me to hear you and you think if you whisper quietly i won't feel the electricity moving from my face to yours and back and back and back
your toes tickling my toes (are these really my toes?) how can i be sure you aren't imagining that i am someone else? i have lined my stomach with reasons why i cannot think of someone else
can't help but worry
i do not want to be alone anymore
too fast, too scared, forever. there's a walt whitman reference in here.
i know what it is like
when your fortress of solitude doesn't look like you
you get looked at but somebody else is being seen
i know because that happens to me too
i don't know whose body this is but i want
her to come back and make it convenient again
that isn't really it, definitely not it
i don't know what i want
i have to write this because i know if i said it
or read it out loud
it wouldn't be my voice that you hear
and that's the whole thing, isn't it?
i'm sorry i called you cute but i
wasn't talking about You i was
talking about your idea to kiss my nose
and the message you left on my refrigerator
that was you, in there, i see you
i know that you are in there and
i am in here too
this is the hill we will die on
— The End —