How much has it been?
How many sizes?
What are you doing?
Where do you do it?
What's your secret?
You ask me questions
About my body
Like I control what it does
And not the other way round
I want to open the valve
I want to say it's cancer
I want to shock you
I want to make you apologize for this incessant verbal intrusion
This ceaseless interrogation about a thing that isn't and never will be yours
Instead I just say I don't own a scale
I put a question mark after thank you
Because you imply I looked bad before
By highlighting how good I look today
Because this is not a compliment
When you could tell me how smart I am
I didn't do this for you
Or your remarks
I did this for myself
To stop the internal hatred
And yet that is still louder than you
Children are taught that you don't enter someone else's living space without an invitation.
That just because you might possess a battering ram or a set of lock picks, this doesn't mean you should use them.
That walking into a house that isn't yours will not only make the inhabitant unhappy, but you're also highly likely to get into trouble.
States maintain that you can lawfully kill an intruder.
This even extends to siblings: don't go into your sister's room. Don't mess with or take her stuff if she hasn't said it's okay. But, no, she can't actually kill you.
So why can't we use this same rule when it comes to bodies?
Why can't we teach boys that the person you want to play with will be much happier if you ask for permission to enter?
That permission explicitly says they want to be near you.
That permission is a validation of your own excellence.
That permission means they will reciprocate.
But we don't. We draw clear lines between houses and bodies.
Houses are sacred.
Bodies are expendable, they heal.
What we don't say is that a home invaded is more easily repaired than a body.
Replace a window.
Change a lock.
The house doesn't remember.
Doesn't carry the echoes of its own pleas down through the years.
Doesn't repeat the story to each subsequent generation to live within its walls.
Bodies have brains.
Brains have memories.
Memories bear pain.
Pain seeps into those who surround
Like a slow leak infiltrating walls
Black mold growing
Teach the law of houses to children. Inform them that their body is the only home in which they will ever always live. Inform them of the need of invitation.
Can I come over?
I am half sick of shadows
Curling and swirling
Reaching and never touching
Always one step ahead
Representing all the things I should be
She mocks me
With legs stretching into the distance
A tease how far I could run
With the lights off and the gates opened
Racing lightning and fireflies
Across distance unfathomed
Sitting here in this room
Watching long eyelashes blink against the wall
My silhouette a reminder of captivity
Imposed by no one
Enforced by nothing
But nonetheless entangled
You are dirty raspberry chai
Holding my hands for too long
Eyes so blue the sky competes
How are you?
Tenderness stinging my eyes
Comfort I didn't know was needed
In a place I didn't plan to land
I am spinning plates
Hoping one falls
Then I could just give up
Why do I keep trying?
But not making it
The inner maelstrom concealed
By color and laughter
Cemeteries designed to be inviting
Monuments marking the placement of human husks
They've never invited me
These sunlit places
Dappled with the grief of those left behind
Sadness mounded like grave earth
Seeps into my pores
These places aren't peaceful
Distracted from my own grief for the current loss
By the fear of stepping on the past
I don't believe in ghosts
Or an afterlife
Yet I worry my footfalls will be felt
Through all that dirt
By the one below
There are times when I miss you
The other half of my heart still beating
in front of me
The smell of your breath
Like warm milk
The stubborn cowlick that shows
when your hair is freshly cut
But missing and loneliness are separate entities
I am less lonely now than when you would lay next to me
I would reach out a hand
And you would move away
The gulf between us yawning
The bridge I felt I failed to build
I know there was no one else
It would have been easier if there were
A scaffold upon which to erect rage
A clean break
But I still love you
Part of me always clinging to lost hope
To traverse that well worn path again
Simply wouldn't work
I am not the same
Even if you are
The dust wouldn't settle
And neither will I
There was a time when the world seemed limitless. It expanded in all directions and went on forever. I could choose any road and go as far as I liked without ever reaching an end. At some point, that changed. Everything flattened and I approached an edge that wasn't originally there, nearly careening right off it into nothingness. As I teetered there, my toes curling over the precipice, the expanse was dark with not even a pinhole of light to betray what it held. It could have been everything or nothing at all. I reached out, felt for a handhold, found none.
It was then that I woke shaking, a sheen of cold sweat on my forehead. I threw my legs out of bed, slipped on a robe. I descended the basement stairs, the night silent house chose not to betray my movement. I tore into boxes, searching for something I knew was there but not in which one to look. As I went through them, I found other pieces of use, pieces of myself. I'd put them away thinking I'd never need them again but had been too lazy to throw them away. There was the piece that liked to write. There another that spent time on her body without shame. This one was comfortable being alone. That one, oh, that one wanted to be living art - song, and dance, and canvas.They were dazzling in the dank and glinted, beckoning me to take them into my arms, consume them, make them part of me again. A tentative sniff revealed nothing. I touched the tip of my tongue to one and it was at once sweet and tingled like a 9 volt battery. I put it whole into my mouth, swallowed without chewing. The tingle radiated through me, reaching the tips of my fingers, flashing like a sunspot behind my eyes and then there wasn't enough. Every box revealed something I'd been without, something I needed. I swallowed them all but never felt full. I stayed in the basement, taking all of them in until dawn shot through the windows. I knew there was more there for me, but someone was sleeping above and would soon themselves wake. Their dream was not dark, was not flat - theirs was limitless but only because they had taken my world from me, given me theirs in a poor exchange. I tended what I'd been given, but nothing could grow except the dark and it had nearly swallowed me.
I took the stairs slowly, begging the house not to give me away again. I slid into bed as if I'd always been there and soon he woke, kissed me good morning. I tried to keep my new old pieces, now reincorporated, from showing, but they shone brightly behind my eyes, emboldened my laugh, refused to again be contained. They were my world returned to me - limitless, the roads were mine to take and they were everywhere. It was then that I chose one - leading away from him. I left him reaching, his call echoing to me as I increased my lead. I could hear him saying he missed me, but he couldn't follow, didn't wear the right shoes, hadn't the means or motivation to go barefoot.
It was a long and lonely dream I'd been living, all the while sleeping next to someone else. Everything, or nearly everything, had changed while I slept. But as the world had changed, so had I.
You are an orca
I am a seal
snatched from my floe
Tossing me higher and higher
with each flick of your head
at first it feels like a game
Soar and rest
Squeal and breath
But with each descent
rending fresh wounds
exposing striated muscle
as I rise again
This isn't fun anymore
the peaks as painful as the lows
I don't have the energy anymore to say
Wouldn't know how if I did
For every high is new
And the brain plays tricks with pain
somewhere in the middle distance
that this will be consummated
In my very consumption
But I am designed
To be prey
You to predate
The natural order of everything
And I am low on the chain
I do it, too
To smaller, weaker things
(And they are just things)
Because they are not you
But they feed me just the same
In the shower mirror the half moons under my eyes are the color of dark plums, overripe and begging to become windfall.
So many nights I left you sleeping, dressed in the dark, started to run away. I don’t remember what stopped me, but I should have kept on.
So many other nights I burned myself in effigy or silently sobbed myself to sleep next to you. You never noticed.
So many days I begged you to look deeper, but you would only say that you didn't want to fight, that the project that was us was too hard.
But we were not a faucet to replace or a room to paint. We were a pair of lives forged together by acts and words, interdependent but requiring the same maintenance as any tangible thing.
Our bond began to crumble and I clung so hard to those falling shards as they fell. Hand over hand, I tried to put them back, believed that working alone, it was enough.
I bargained and pled, letting pieces of myself go instead of pieces of us. I was but a pair of forearms and hands left suspended by hope.
I wanted to see the strawberry moon
Shining full for the first time
On the solstice in 47 years
But the day has been long
Exhausting in more ways than one
And I am tired
I peer out my bedroom window
Wander around the house
Trying to find a better vantage point
But I am one house away
From the bottom of a bowl
Instead I see fireflies
Glowing yellow in brilliant flashes
First here and then there
I want to go out into the backyard
With a mason jar
Holes poked in the top
Some grass inside
And catch one or two
I'd give them a slice of apple
I still don't know what they eat
But I know I'd just forget
Find them dead in a few days
I've stayed up too late
And the moon I thought I would miss
Has inched above the tallest trees
Shining in all its June glory
Through my bedroom window
And the best part is
I can still see the fireflies, too