“Speak to me. / Take my hand. / What are you now? / I will tell you all. / I will conceal nothing.”
When I was three I broke my father’s nose
with a bat. He said he never had migraines
before that day, but now has them frequently.
I have them several times a month. I earned them
when I hit him square in the mouth. I know better
than to hit people, if not for the trouble,
then for the karma.
My crown must look, to everyone else,
like a white, glass bottle. Empty.
Someone is always aiming at my face
and trying to pry it off, to claim it
as their own. Sometimes their throws hit
right on the cheek, the lip. Everything splits.
bleeds. Looking at my broken face
is how I know, I have your eyebrows. They have to reconcile
their actions sometime.
Someone should say, whatever you summon
you sleep with too.
I believe that I am going deaf
in my left ear. This seems appropriate
for my twenty-third year, the hard earned year.
Some sounds are more audible than others. I hear movement
of water, some voices no longer carry. The trouble began
when so many others failed to hear.
What are you thinking? They have permission to ask
anything of me.
Do you remember my sister Anne? How she killed herself.
Carbon monoxide poisoning. I have her nose,
sometimes I wonder if I am not smelling
the scent of exhaustion. She says
the parts broken apart are actually whole.
It took a violent pulling apart
to understand the fragments are the whole.
I locked myself in the car on Thursday.
I prayed so hard that the lights went out. I left
the church and they think I have no religion.
I begin every prayer the same way, each night. God is the only
one who sees everything. Who believes.
prayer is the only intimate act I have left. Then
the neighbor’s dog barked & scratched at the door. There is nothing,
after all, that I know to be sacred. If I had been good
this would not have happened.
I believe in that.
I wanted you to stroke my hair. My dark threads,
tangled like the darkness in me. Last night the blankets slid
off the bed. If we had been more traditional,
you would have placed it over my body. You would’ve turned off
the lamp and shut the door. Then you would walk down the hall
to take yourself to bed. I would have known.
Did you know?
She said you are a gift,
you change the lives of everyone
who meets you, for the better.
I disagree. She said too, you should learn
to be selfish. Take it back, turn away from it.
Best of all, she says prepare yourself
for the worst.