A little girl holds her marbles in the bottom of her shirt
The boys play for keeps, and they cheat
She grasps the cool glass to her warm chest through the fabric
As if her integrity is fragile,
Like she was ashamed that she wanted to cheat when her marbles were taken away
The teacher asks why she holds herself like this
Tells her that the boys can see her stomach
As if something will be stolen before her body is full grown
Her belly button has never seen so much sunlight- or so many eyes
The glass breaks on the pavement as she covers herself
And if dignity were a porcelain doll, she’d be broken, too.
I call my mother after dance class so she can tell me not to waste my time on frivolous motion
I tell her I am reinventing a body
That boys stole parts before they were full grown
That if I learn to bend in new ways, I won’t break when they play for keeps and the eyes are on the outside
The broken marbles at recess make new people.
I see a little girl in a garden crying over her dead roses
She asks me how the garden can live after watching a beautiful thing die
I don’t know, I tell her
I tell her they are still beautiful somewhere in her past
That she’ll look at photographs one day and not remember when they died
But I know that she will
She tells me she doesn’t want to live when beautiful things have to die
I tell her that she is a beautiful thing
In her soft victorian dressing gown,
She is so young
I saw her framed in a museum once.
I wake up to two am in a college dorm room and start the day because I know that girl is dying somewhere
Sometime too long ago for me to be mourning
I look at her painting and don’t remember the day she died
If she’s lucky, she grew up and bloomed.
I’m falling in love with the campfire ashes floating up and kissing his cheek
My dad warns us that some are still hot, so we watch carefully just in case
We make up songs about hot tea to his guitar because he dare not sing about cold beer in front of my father
I’ve never felt warmth like cool nights and skin I never thought I would orbit
I’m caught in the grace of his feet swinging back and forth under the lawn chair
He’s a speaker for rhythms I don’t recognize but need to know
He calls me a manic pixie dream girl with her own plot line
Imagines me ruining a ball gown in a river
He is not the violinist my mom always said I would marry
On a good day, he’s a catastrophe rolling on the railroad tracks I’m tied to
Mother, we are late nights and bad decisions
No, I never got that tattoo but yes we’re going out again
Because he makes me want to hit the ground running
Convinced me that the sun orbits us, because
“it’s all about perspective.”
Ashes and smoked clothing like glitter and perfume
Like he promised mom we’d be home by midnight, and dad that we were running away already
I’m dancing on my tiptoes in the moment he makes a little girl’s dreams come true, not a woman
I can’t imagine a world in which I am grown up
Because he has chosen to grow up with me
I’m gonna kiss him, mom.
I was lying when I forgot about her dad's pickup truck
It's been over a year since I last got her lost behind the wheel. I can't believe she kept letting me navigate.
Loss of a memory isn't a lie unless it was everything.
My whole world was empty slushie cups on the floor of the passenger seat, a broken speedometer,
A river that is still carving its way up onto the trail with the new floods
A transformation is supposed to be a complete overhaul
A girl walks in, but a woman walks out
I'm lying to myself because I can't remember the sounds or the way her couch cushions felt
Her home smells different now
Her body is something I don't recognize
I can't tell if she has changed or I recorded over the tapes
When I am no longer a teenager, and she was just young love, and my old poems were just country songs on the radio that I sometimes recognize and sometimes don't,
When I am afraid to go outside here in fall because it's not the same
It's been over a year since I asked for familiar. My parents' house does not smell the same. My dog sings to different songs on the radio. I do not own a radio. I do not own a car, or hold a girl, or sing country music anymore. I don't get lost driving to rivers. I don't ride roller coasters or lay on rooftops to interrogate stars. I barely walk myself home at night.
It doesn't smell the same.
Glucogenesis makes the process sound holy
If we look closely enough, I'm sure that we would find plants are praying
Sunflowers are facing Him sitting on some golden throne of fire that's burning my skin
They do all of this work, and then we eat them. The sweet ones are the worst. Their prayers were answered over and over until they were saturated with sugars I am stealing
I cannot regret being alive. I cannot feel remorse as my fluid gives way to a vibrancy unheld by the entire person
The body is made up of millions of parts that decided they were better off constructed. Some parts have decided they were better off as parts and they invade our castles so we **** them.
Some of them make glucose. Most of them don't.
It's sad to only understand life through the pages of a textbook. To read about the life I took to read about. Cellulose is just glucose the body doesn't recognize. My papers were a body but my skin cannot be read.
I cannot feel remorse for being alive. I call my dog to me and wonder how his mind was put together. His fluid is all stitched up with body in between. He does not think about the little grass prayers. I do. I sit and join them but I do not pray because I cannot complete glucogenesis. I am not created. I will someday be soil and maybe parts of me will be used to make glucose and then I will pray because this is all I know of afterlife.
I am grateful that plants are religious.
I'm still bullying myself
over the sugar
in fruit juice
I'm still convinced
that I deserve the pain
It heals the sugar wounds.
I haven't thought
about skipping classes
or entire days
I haven't forgiven
But I forgive myself
For not forgiving
I'm out of breath
because this run
is your replacement.
I’m procrastinating on death
My mother tells me that grandma can barely breathe
I don’t believe her
I still call her on Sundays and just do all the talking
I’m grieving for someone who is still alive
When my mother tells me I can’t see her,
I nearly hang up the phone
She can tell I’m crying before I make a sound
In the moment I’m choking on my own vocal chords,
She knows I cannot hear her anymore
Death cannot make me a better person
I tell my mom that I wish I had been a more loving child
I’ve wasted time
I’ll waste the whole night washing the stages of grief off my bedroom floor
I will not find her in the bubbles
Death is not here
He is laughing at me with a timer I cannot see
He is waltzing around my grandmother’s home,
Some days he has a weapon,
Some days he is unarmed
Grandma tells mom that time is up
She tells me she is fine
I tell her about my day
I think about going to church
Then, I remember that asking for forgiveness is the most spiteful thing I could possibly grapple with
Forgiveness would be grieving for my own soul
And that is not why I am throwing away dead flowers
I save one, maybe it has some color left
Maybe I’m just seeing things
I press it in a book on a shelf packed too tightly
So I can forgive life for leaving its petals
And her skin
Maybe this is a prayer
Maybe it’s an epitaph
Maybe it’s my whole body trembling in little keystrokes and maybe they can hold onto her for me because I am not with her. I am alone in my bedroom wishing for a ghost to tell me instead of my mother.
When she’s gone-
My mother asks if I will want anything from her house. I tell her I want the sailboat pillow I held to my chest while throwing temper tantrums as a child. I’m stomping my feet alone in my apartment and Death says that he’ll wait for me to stop. I text her after we hang up to say that I just want my grandmother.