safe.

i’m not sure how to do this anymore.

i keep thinking about how absolutely unfair it all is.

do people ever remember the things they do if it didn’t viscerally impact them, but it altered someone else’s personhood?

i don’t ever want to give the past and people who have hurt me that much power. what does that say about me?

i’m so tired of going back to this, but what else can i do except write?

i can be happy and relaxed, but out of no where, i just feel so small and sad that men always take things without our permission.

i think the hardest part about it all is that i compartmentalize my life in ways that make it nearly impossible for me to be fully honest with the people i love.

i am so angry, so angry, so angry.
and then on some days, i am okay.
i am happy, even.
i wouldn’t be this person without that hurt.

this poem is dedicated to the men who have hurt me in big ways and small. i’m not happy with it yet, but like life, it’s a work-in-progress.

Safe.
4.30.19


i have never felt safe with a man–
not since you.
not since early morning, glazed eyes, limp arms, heavy heart,
soul-floating.
 

out of body experiences are not
always
euphoric.

i have not felt safe since
5 months of acting–
brave face,
plastered smiles,
heart-racing, fingers laced
l o v e,
we called it.
my performance was so convincing
i nearly believed it too.

i have not felt safe since
dark club nights,
white fingers, condescension,
alcohol and swaying and not enough time to say
no.

i have not felt safe since
hot hands, clocks ticking,
cars and traffic and too much noise,
shallow breaths,
followed by months of silence.

when i think about
the fear i feel,
i also think that
living in safety
does not mean we are
where we belong.

sometimes a poem
is a placeholder
for the next hurt,
because there is always
a next time.

sometimes it is shock absorption,
a place to lay your head,
a salve for throbbing hearts.

sometimes,
the poem becomes a swan song,
becomes a fight,
helps you route your way
to happy,
to closing doors,
to safety.

 

when things aren’t good.

i carry fear
like breadcrumbs;

leave a trail behind
so i know
how to get back to
broken.

there will be a time
for maps
later.

there will be a time
for arrows pointing
north.

there will be a time
for warm lighting,
soft pillows,
writing our feelings.

but for now,
there is dark.
there is cold.
there is never-ending
silence.

for now,
there are bedsheets.

for now,
there are silver spoons,
frozen fingers,
half-eaten pints of ice cream.

for now,
there are tear-soaked
sleeves

for now,
there is sleep.

and when the morning comes
here,
it is still dark.
it is still cold.
it is still silent.

worlds.

i imagine worlds
within worlds
where girls are whole;

where wood chips are the only things
that graze our knees
that scratch our skin
that break us open–
require us to become
bandaged.

where dizziness comes from spinning
in silly circles
eyes closed
mouths turned up,
smiles.

no hurt
no bottles
no smoke;
nothing we want to forget

i imagine a girl
in a world
who dreamed of love
and trust
and never questioned if she could be
whole again;

who never became disappointed
by how
human
it all is.

What Happens When You Reach a Certain Age

And no, I’m not talking about the oh-so-ridiculously high drinking age of 21 (thanks, America).

Being considered an adult is circumstantial.  Life in America tells you that you become a legal adult at 18.  You can vote, you can be drafted (with some considerations), you can start doing your own damn laundry (although you should probably have started doing that on your own way before that).  The government can treat you like an adult and throw responsibilities at you, but for some reason, your parents can’t, or don’t, or won’t.

So, when you finally reach an age when you are perceived as a real life, normal, human person with enough emotional capacity to pitch a tent in, it’s a little strange.  Because all your life, you’re given excuses for your behavior or your points of view.  When you’re a child, you’re naive.  It’s cute that you think you want to be a ballerina scientist princess singer.  When you’re a teenager, blame the hormones.  It’s “just a phase” that you slam doors and whisper expletives under your breath when you fight with your parents.  When you go off to university, you’re homesick or stressed out.  It’s fine that you’re preoccupied with deciding on a major or juggling classes.  And all throughout your life, no one tells you things.  Not real things, anyway.  Adults are a part of a not-so-secret society and until you’ve reached a certain age, you just aren’t invited.  People shelter their children, anyone’s children, from emotional and physical realities because they think it will stunt their growth or traumatize them to no end.  No one really talks to you in a way that is normal.  Conversations are not real conversations. And you’re expected to just be fine with that.

And then suddenly, sometimes with warning and sometimes without, you’ve reached a certain age. It sneaks up on you most of the time.  I know it did with me.

One day, when you call home, your mom doesn’t just say she’s fine.  She’ll actually tell you things about her life.  She’ll still give unsolicited advice, because that’s what she does.  But, she also asks for your opinion.  She asks because she needs affirmation and consideration–something that you just couldn’t provide before because you hadn’t been that certain age quite yet.

And now you are.

And one day, when you phone your dad, he’ll tell you what’s really wrong with grandpa.  He won’t say it’ll be alright like he did with grandma.  You were young back then, so it was okay that no one told you the truth.  But now you’re a certain age, and for some reason, that deserves the truth.

The thing with being a certain age is that it isn’t a sturdy, standard age.  It comes in ebbs and flows.  You get exposed slowly, incrementally, and then all at once.

You’re no longer considered a child that didn’t know better.  Sometimes you just don’t think about it though.  It seems like a natural progression, but when you look back, you realize that it’s only been one year or two or three since you were just a kid. And now, you’re just a person that can provide support and words of encouragement or bereavement or whatever kind of emotion is necessary for a particular time and place.  And in a way, it’s kind of for lack of a better word, nice.  You are, at a certain age, considered a real person capable of contributing your own voice and thought.

It’s not confusing or extremely uplifting.  It’s just nice.

Because the relationships that are the nicest are the ones that are mutually satisfying.  Traditionally, parents support their children.  And it’s not to say that until you’re a certain age, you don’t appreciate their affection and love.  It’s more that when you do reach a certain age and you find yourself helping your parents as much as they help you, it just makes more sense.

And, I find that when you reach a certain age, you stop thinking about reaching a certain age.  I don’t know if I’ve hit that obscure number yet, but I think I’m making my way there.

When you reach a certain age, it’ll be okay to see your heroes sad.  It makes them human.

When you reach a certain age, you’ll stop saying you’re older than you really are.  The pre-mature wrinkles won’t be sources of pride anymore.  You’ll hate society for being ageist, but you’ll do everything in your power to not be called “old”.

When you reach a certain age, you’ll believe in love.  And loss.  And love again.  It will still be hard to let go, but it will happen.

When you reach a certain age, you will still care what people think.  You’ll just learn that it matters more what you think.

When you reach a certain age, you will see that no one is immune to hurt or heartache.  You will also see that no one is immune to smiles or kindness or a really great smelling loaf of bread.

When you reach a certain age, you will stop saying you will get to it eventually.  You will get to it today.  You won’t wait for a tragedy to strike or a parent to yell at you.

When you reach a certain age, you will sometimes wish you stayed in touch with everyone you ever were friends with.  You will soon realize that it’s okay you haven’t.

When you reach a certain age, you will understand that what you think and say matters.  You will apologize when you do something wrong and stand strong when you know you are doing something right.  You won’t be ashamed for not following the crowd.  You will be a hero in your own right.