i don’t remember the day you told me
my eyes were like windows, and finally you knew
what all those people meant when they wrote those
kinds of things in silly romance novels—
i remember the day after,
when i woke up
in a panic because i knew my eyes were like windows
(that’s what you told me,
but the rest of me was no home.
i remember that afternoon,
when i was too afraid to see
you through my glass eyes and find you
looking for the other side. i remember that night,
nailing shutters to my eyes
because i couldn’t find myself without them.
and i remember the way you said nothing
the next time you saw me.
(did you ever really see me?)
you weren’t interested in hitting walls or
building homes—you didn’t want me to be home.
you were still learning your lost, still mapping new paths.
maybe that’s what you meant when you said
my eyes were like windows, maybe you just fell in love
with all the trails i left behind:
they probably looked just as lost as you.
i guess that’s why i can’t tell you about my sadness—
it’s the one thing i still cannot
1. i do not want to think.
2. there is reason for my irrationality.
3. sometimes, i want to grip your hand so tightly that my form rubs indents through your skin, my fingers pressed so deep that even those layers and layers of dead cells blocking me from your living body will remember how it feels to be warm again.
4. i imagine silly things, like old music playing through houses that do not yet exist, and pairs of us dancing in halls made for passing, kissing under covers meant for sleeping, killing fears in rooms built for living.
5. it is dark out now, the stars are bright and hot, and still all i can see is you, your outline papered against the shadows of shadows, black lines on black. i wonder when my eyes learned to strain for you and not the light anymore, my pupils dilating and constricting based on the distances we held between each other. all i ever feel lately is you, your presence controlling the rise and rest of the hairs on the nape of my neck, your voice commanding the swing of my lips, even though no one—no one should have that much power over a person.
6. so how did it happen?
7. i have grown deaf to my heart in the days since i met you—it rattles and shakes inside its case of blank white hurt, urging me to tell you how much it hurts to love and be loved, to be tied to someone else’s days and habits and emotions and thoughts and flaws and all. it’s always been the sum of their parts—their whole—that you’ve been falling into, whether you’ve known it or not.
8. what’s stopping me from listening?
9. you see, society has taught you to search for this other half you’re supposed to be missing, all the while reminding you to build up an entire “whole” on your own (just in case things turn out badly, of course). but now that you’ve found this other half, you don’t know what to do—you don’t know what sacrifices to make, what holes you should dig from your whole, what things you want to lose in exchange for whatever pieces they are willing to give. you just don’t know.
10. (i just don’t know.)
11. it’s true, it hurts so much to lose, to feel as though you are waiting around to be stuffed full of foreign parts and just hoping for a good end reaction, because you cannot forget the fact that people were made to different sizes and born blind to anyone but ourselves. you have blinded yourself now.
12. and so to love—what difference does it make?
she wrote him a love letter
on the underside of his wrist, a soft smear
against taut skin, laid over like a bridge
connecting the spaces between his highway
veins, as if she knew
that if she ever traveled those lines,
she’d need to build a couple
shortcuts along the way,
so she could always
make her way back to him
i told you how often i wrote of you.
you told me you stopped reading me,
Endings shouldn’t be this way. I’ve spent 17 years trying to create and rebuild, create and rebuild, and still I’m not anything recognizable: not anything good or bad, but simply a body in existence—a “survival machine” moving with purpose and without meaning.
I’ve learned that family can mean nothing and everything at the same time; I’ve learned the ways silence can save me, and, even more than that, I’ve learned the way words can free me. I’ve learned the difference between being safe and being free.
I’ve learned that loneliness is a lifetime companion, and that everyone else can only ever claim fractions of your life against the infinite space that your lonely occupies. I’ve learned to love it but to fear it—and so I’ve learned to run. I’ve learned to be selfish. I’ve learned a life of 17 years, but I don’t think it’s mine yet.
It’s a silly thing, I think, to measure myself in potentials; regardless, that is all I can see: the potential everyone has—and therefore I must have—and this potential that I have failed to convert into the actual. I’ve lived off of excuses up until now, and the perpetual feeling of being lost is only now starting to make itself known. People talk about “soul-searching” all the time, but I don’t believe that’s the problem. I already know where my supposed “soul” is—where else could it be but with me, inside me, slivers mixed into everything I do?
And I don’t need to be found either—I’ve been in this same exact spot my whole life, after all. I know that where I am now is only a small ending to a small fraction of my existence. I know that I am lost, I know that I am leaving.
I just want to know where I’m supposed to go.
and I cannot hold them.
She blew him a kiss and watched it sink
over him like an unwelcome draft, a cold
he was unwilling to catch—
And why would he want to?
Unrequited love was a sickness
no one ever wanted
when things got bad, my mother would always remind us
to “keep up appearances,”
to leave our weaknesses at home,
to make room for normalcy
even when you could barely breathe
in the space you’d been given;
because society bred heartache
—it didn’t heal it.
for a while there, i thought i could find that room and
create myself by sifting through everyone else’s lives,
looking through a venn diagram of the world
and finding all the pieces that matched
(my eyes crinkle like hers do
when she frowns up at the rain;
that is my mole,
crushed into the nape of his neck;
those are my fingers, working
the ribbon she is tying through her hair).
but when i turned to a mirror
i could not recognize
have i been keeping up
this whole time?