I can’t craft beautiful words for you.
I don’t know why,
Not for lack of trying, of course,
And not for lack of feeling.
Just know that
Today you reached through my skin,
Past my ribs, between my lungs,
And brushed my heart with a fingertip.
Four words are less frightening than three.
I’m glad you won’t turn a page
Until I’m done reading.
Absence made the boy grow fonder.
You told me it was real now,
And I’m still scared sometimes
Or cautious, maybe.
But when you looked at me
Your eyes like that,
oh wow, oh wow—
I’m falling for you too.
Having fun with a new mic. Still bad at filtering out noise. But enjoy. It’s been a while since I spent too much time on something.
Sunday afternoon. It’s sunny out but you shut the curtains and turned on the light. It’s artificial, like today. It washes out your skin and turns you sickly. The bags under your eyes are apparent. You age under the bulb.
You sit at your desk, frustrated. Homework is not as simple as you had thought it would be. You don’t know how to solve these problems. That’s not a surprise. There are very few problems you know how to solve. Add these to the pile. Feel helplessness well up in your chest. You’re going to fail. Accept it. You are not an A student. You are not good at this.
The phone rings. Dad. You answer it. You listen as he tells you what to do. He is always telling you what to do, and so is your mother. You haven’t done what he wanted you to. He is angry. He yells. You listen. You get angry. You don’t yell. You say yes when he asks if you understand. You bite back a curse. You hang up. You sigh.
Rise from your desk. Look at the food piled on your fridge. Put a hand in a cereal box. Take it out. Bring it to your mouth. Chew. Swallow. Hate yourself. You’re used to this.
I look very much the student today.
My collared dress
shows through my
and my boots
almost look like
part of a uniform.
In my lace tights
and my half-shaved head
I am a guerrilla schoolgirl.
It is obvious that I am no more and no less.
I want to, I dunno
snort cocaine or
inject heroin into my
arms or maybe, like
jump into the river
off the Washington
or strip naked and
shout through a
to a speaker connected
Just to have a story to tell.
This part of life,
psychology tells us,
is a search for self among
the piles we have spent
years stacking up,
not sorted or ordered
just random bits and pieces
that I now have to sift
through and set up in
straight rows so when
someone asks me who I am
I actually have a clear
answer that won’t
bore you to tears.
I am too splintered right now, and too full of words.
There is no college
course on how to
alphabetize your soul
or categorize the
tiny stupid thoughts
catapulting about your
brain among the formulas
and the literature you have
read and cried at and
felt with parts of your
heart you don’t have
a name for yet, no,
there is no SELF 1001;
there is no professor
and no final exam.
You must teach yourself to yourself.
So class, let’s begin.
When the sun came in through the window
to show me the slope of your nose
and the curve of your lips
and the soft curl of your lashes,
I thought, well,
I could write you out in equations:
slopes, curves, and curls.
Calculus makes room for you.
Or perhaps it would be more romantic
to sketch you in soft strokes.
Sweep you out in circles and lines,
dark to light in greyscale shades.
Or maybe I should angle a camera
fiddle with settings I don’t understand
to soften the sun that spills out
over your lovely face, and capture you.
Or I could weave you into notes
and tones, and thoughtless rhythms
strum strings and beat drums
and sing you out for the world to hear.
But I won’t, I thought, because
You are here, and I am here.
And I don’t need mathematics or art,
photographs or songs.
I need my fingers
To gingerly trace your nose
and your lips and the hollows of your eyes,
Tactile and solid.
I’ve come a long way.
I only trust what I can see in front of me
Someday the feelings will be enough,
But for now I will only trust what I touch.