i don’t want you to know me

i want to walk past you on the street
raise my eyebrow and look at you
while we pass under the streetlight
and swing my hips
so that you turn around
and turn back to your friends
to whisper about me

i want our shoulders to accidentally touch
and i want you to feel your skin tingle
beneath the shirt you wore
--the one that is tight on your muscles--
hoping you would see me

i want you to wait for me by door frames
to walk me to class
and live for the moments i giggle at you

i want you to find my fears
and ache to protect me from them

i want our lips to touch
and i want yours to part
and breathe in
because you couldn’t have imagined
a first kiss
like that

i want you to be unable to stop thinking about me
keep my name on your tongue all day
until you dial my number
and call to talk to me

i don’t want you to know me
because i want you to fall in love with me
all over again
  Feb 12 Rachel Birdsong
you will never be forgotten.
your name twisted into metaphors and colors and distractions will forever
be painted across pages and pages of her favorite brand of notebook,
no matter how many she burns
there will always be one she forgot,
and she will only find it once she had almost forgotten you.
she will find the one Papyrus notebook
and all of your metaphors and colors and disractions will come flooding back,
just like how the ocean in your eyes
flooded her heart all those years ago.
Rachel Birdsong Aug 2017
leave me on the roadside
to walk on tumbleweeds
and sleep on dustclouds

away from the fingers that
pull open my jaw
to see what sin
last rolled off my dry tongue

away from lights
held against my skin to
confirm that my blood runs
red blue
like theirs

away from park benches
with my name
scratched in their wood
and my blood smeared
on the concrete sidewalk
leading to them

away from megaphone voices
even when your head is between
your sweaty palms
and bent knees
still find a way to scream their
discontent at the way
you buttered your toast that morning

leave me on the roadside
i will be lost and alone
but i will have only
my scars
my skin
and eyes following that damned yellow line.
Rachel Birdsong May 2017
there is a single scratch
on the waxy hardwood floor
from where she broke
one night in august.

a single, jagged line
where her feet tripped on the broken frames
that held fleeting moments
where her chin hit the ground
because her knees already had
where her hands couldn’t let go of her own lungs
to catch herself in time

its submerged now
in a puddle of crimson tears
and surrounded by
shreds of her white cotton sweater
with the ink stain on the cusp

you see
she was trying to fly
but her shoe laces had grown to vines
that crawled up the sides of houses
and into the drainpipes beneath the city

she wanted to dance on cloudy pillow tops
sing the lullabies her mother whispered into her dreams
pull sunbeams through her fingers and tie them into her braids

she hadn’t learned
skies rest on the ground
clouds need valleys to cry on
the earth must turn for the sun to rise
to fly you must have the floor to leave.
Rachel Birdsong Apr 2017
lace your hands on either side of my ribs
and feel my
pinky-stretched muscles
twist and grind with the earth’s orbits

tap your finger on my temple
and listen to the
bones hollowed-out
by termites that run on memories

hold my wrists above my head
and look at
the stretched skin of my stomach
so translucent
you can see the treasure map I etched all over me

these bodies are sponges
absorbing the wind
into our hips
and sprawling our fingers to try and
catch the air and stick it back into our lungs
muscling through the salty waves
that stain our cheeks a raw pink
and erode our invincible confidence
and chip our pearly smile

we grab for our surroundings
with a dying necessity
and sew them into ourselves
so that we are patched into an identity

so when we are tired of being ragdolls
pieced together by our triumphs and failures
we begin to choose any fabric
regardless of the color, shape, or size
just to cover the holes we have created

then we face the mirror to see our what is left

we are disappointed not by our own mouths
but the ones on the faces behind us
looking past their own holes and into our own

where you can see
the taught fibers of stretched muscles
the tunnels termites have created in ivory bones
and pale skin pulled tight around panting lungs.
Rachel Birdsong Mar 2017
for a moment consider
wiping away hardened edges
smearing the razor blade lines
of your rusted smile
of your painted rib cage

imagine the terror
no—the horrific beauty
of a new self.

who would be your ruler
to measure your growth;
or would you grow at all?
would you fall into the same
ash-colored patterns your mother sewed into your dresses
and polished into your patent leather shoes
only acceptable on Sunday mornings?

how would you redefine your name
that has grown to fill the teeth inside your mouth
and weigh down your jaw bone
with jagged cement?

and honey
even if you could do all of those things
where would you go?
who wants to know the carcass you washed clean,
void of those scars behind your left knee cap
and that freckle on your temple?

what of those sunshine laughs
that colored your bedroom walls
and crocodile tears
that littered the linoleum bathroom floor?

new beginnings are frivolous
with the same canvas
the same acrylic paints
the same brush strokes

you’re left with an original copy.
Rachel Birdsong Oct 2016
there is a reason
woman is shaped
with the curves of an hourglass

the shouldered top
in which rests the weight
of threadbare words
covered in the crimson paste on chapped lips

the ever-slimming waist
the hips that hold our hands
with fingers that slip between
our cracked ribs
and pull. tightly. inwards.
to make it harder for that damned sand
to waterfall through

and the wide feet
with train-track paths behind them
that lead through middles of mountains
fly over valleys of sugarcane and wildflower
and beneath trenches woven deep in the ocean

there is a reason
woman is shaped
with the curves of an hourglass

that pale, fine time
that slips from
the tip of a rough tongue
and through gritted teeth
falls into the hollow bones
of the hips, legs and ankles

at the moment time leaves her
the sand is now full
of chipped mountain rock
sweetened with sugarcane
colored with specks of yellow wildflowers
and salted with kisses from the Atlantic.
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