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Jan 2015
I.
Identity?
For so long, I've felt like I had none.
I am a piece of college-ruled paper
ripped, torn, taped to a back alley wall
with names and dates and places
all written in a rainbow of Sharpies
by people with faces I cannot remember;
my handwriting with the cursive "f"s
nowhere to be seen,
words I'd written so long ago
buried beneath the influence of everyone else.

Who are you, when you're no one
except everyone?

II.
I'm sick.
I am years of not getting out of bed.
I am missed school days, late-passes,
a truant.
I am doctor's notes.
I am a pile of handwritten prescriptions.
I am one white
two orange
one pink
and two multi-vitamins.
Misdiagnoses,
tests,
exams.

My feet melt into the blue and grey carpeting,
my arms turn brown like the worn-down stain of the armrests,
the receptionist knew me by name
until "next week's appointment" slipped off the calendar.

I am episodes of crying in crowds
or crying alone.
I'm haunted by mistakes remembered only by me.
I am up or I'm down
without knowing what's between.
My brain leaves my body and I can't feel my hands
so the bottle of Advil moves up one more shelf.

I am told to lie on my medical forms
so I won't be held at arms length,
or treated like someone who's different or strange;
but that's just how I'm treated at home.

III.
I am nothing more
than the result of years of torture.
Two bra sizes too small.
Four dress sizes too big.

I am nothing more than a waistline,
which would be fine
if I had one.

I am not pretty enough.
I am not beautiful enough.
I am not good enough.

And I will not be joining you for dinner.

IV.
I push people away
but long for them to come closer.
I run, keep my distance
but, when you're not looking, lean in a bit closer.

I text boys 300 miles away
but pretend he's right there beside me.

I'm gullible, I'm weak.
I fall for anything, I fall for everything.
I forgive too quickly and I love too much,
I set myself up for the fall.

V.
I'm a disappointment.
I'm wrong.
I'm wrong.
I'm wrong.

I forget my chores.
I forget responsibilities.
I forget rules, I forget deadlines, I forget lines in the play.

I forget numbers and facts and formulas.
And when the grades come back
I remember
what a parents' giving up looks like.

VI.
I'm difficult.
I'm needy.
I can't drive,
can't make my own appointments.
Can't sign my own papers, can't run my own errands,
can't buy my own dinner,
can't call my own shots.
I'm difficult.
I hear myself say that I don't have a choice
But the sigh in reply says,
I'm difficult.

VII.
I love the wrong gender.
I swing the wrong way.
"I always imagined my daughter walking down the aisle
with a man who reminded her of her father," he says.
"I'm just disappointed," he says.
So I bring home a boy
and Mom says,
"Thank you -
I promise, it's easier this way."

Some girls tell their families when they find their first love,
but mine will stay hidden
in the box with the K
filled with letters and gifts and "thinking of you"'s
collecting dust between the wall and my bed.

VIII.
I am numbers, and numbers, and numbers.
Weights, heights, exes, mistakes -
too high.
Grades, standardized tests, word counts and successes -
too low.

IX.
I'm deluded.
Always telling myself that if Mom really loved me
she'd put me before the glass of wine.
Convincing myself that it's my fault
and that I'm selfish, petty, judgmental.
I'm hurt.

I'm hopeful.
Waking up to the overhead light in my room at 10
when Dad comes home from work -
asking me how my day went
and closing the door before I can reply.
I'm silent.

I'm lonely.
Clinging to the siblings of friends and partners
desperately wanting a family.
Constantly jumping from partner to partner
desperately needing a hug.
I'm alone.

X.
With all my shortcomings
with all I do wrong
it's hard for me to find when I do something right.

But of all the things I'll never know,
I know how to feel, I know how to care.

I'll show you passion like you've never seen passion before.
I've seen gods in mortals and mortals in gods,
I've felt fire inside me when it's icy around me,
I've painted the Sistine Chapel with the notes of F. Doppler,
I've sculpted the moon and the stars and the sun with my heart,
I've loved with the urgency of the wind of a hurricane
and I've forgiven like the sand did the Atlantic high tide.

XI.
I forget so much,
but there's so much more to remember.

I'll remember your dreams, your hopes, your ambitions,
I'll remember your tears on the sleeve of my shirt.
I'll remember the days of the sweet uncertainties,
bus rides and text messages and scarves and "good morning"s.
I'll remember the day my heart fell for yours
(ticking, ticking, like the bomb in the birdcage).

I'll remember the album with the songs named after planets,
and I'll remember when you couldn't meet my eyes to the lyrics.
I'll remember the confessions from the football field bleachers,
even next year, when there's an empty chair in the orchestra.

I'll forget all our fights, even the ones you never will,
and I might lose some of our laughs,
but I'll never forget passion at 4 in the morning,
or slow-dancing like middle schoolers at high-school dances,
or your body against mine to old SNL re-runs.
I'll always remember the times you let me in
and I'll be here in silence for the times you still can't.

I'll remember our promises
of dreams and forever -
plantations in Greece, Italy, Spain.
Love letters and presents hidden around our camp cabins,
four years of love, friendship, promises
dissolved in a haze of disdain.

I may not remember the quadratic formula,
I may not remember Newton's third law,
but I'll never forget how you make my heart hammer,
even when you forget me.

XII.
I am
forgettable, only wishing to be remembered by someone, someday,
sad, looking for joy in things big and small.
A hypocrite, begging for proximity then crawling far, far away.
I am miserable, but passionate.
I am identical, but a glaring mistake.
I am what-if's, maybe's, and might-have-been's.
I am quoting Jethro Tull songs in my confessions.
I am words in my head that will never escape my lips,
I am words on my lips that should never have escaped my head.
I am things I'll never say and stories I'll never write,
I am singing in the shower, dancing in the halls,
I am running across busy streets in April
and sleeping in screened-in porches in June.

XIII.
And every time I wake up alone,
I'll stand in the yard, look up to the sky
and remind myself that the sun, too, is alone
but can still warm the earth with its love.
inspired by walt whitman's "song of myself"
for an english project.
madeline may
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madeline may  anywhere but here
(anywhere but here)   
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