"Everything can be saved, but I don’t
remember how. I will tell this memory
so many times that it will cease to be a
memory of anything but the telling."
A line is drawn in the sand. Some prop,
Some meaningless measure of loss,
Of cold, of days, of dreams and salt and stone.
Where did it come from? Inside my body, an infinity
Of cells dividing, strands tangling and coding me
Eternally into being.
I have not cut my hair since before everything happened.
That last summer. Communing
With some adolescent god,
My body softly in the grass. A yellow rose, and a sound
Like my grandfather’s old-fashioned slide projector
Suddenly I am watching through the frosted glass
Of my childhood best friend’s shower. Two thin and hairless
Bodies, pale as moonstone, my golden head bent close
To her dark one. Furtive whispers
About things we half-understood.
The smell of green hay and onion grass.
Crouched over a tin toy pot in the neighbors’ woods,
We were spattered to the knees with mud, stirring
The foul salves of our potions before marching
Home from war each night at dusk, emerging—
Triumphant and ravenous—from the husk of twilight
between the cursed forest and the kitchen door.
Twin beds in a blue room.
Two dead cats, an endless drive, and the whole world
As seen from the top of the Ferris Wheel
At the New York State Fair, on a rainy day,
After my first ride on a city bus, my baby sister
Home teething in my grandmother’s arms.
And then, finally, a long-haired woman with crooked teeth.
She is laughing. I toddle behind in my red striped shirt.
This is a false memory, but I know it ends
In our little yard next to the cemetery.
That single yellow rose bush, my young father’s hands
Cupped around a firefly.
Those years spent cross-
Legged in the grass before the advent of destruction,
Before the line in the sand.
Laughing as my aches all knit themselves into being.
May 29th, 2014
i. Rule number one: play by the rules.
ii. I am a Russian nesting doll. I am putting this feeling back inside of myself.
iii. Your secrets are never what you think they are.
White frills of the creek,
Dandelion boats and made-up names of crossings.
Honeysuckle, drifting in, the swollen teat of summer.
My woman’s body in my child’s world, the heaviness
Of the long-drawn sun as it sets
Over the rough-hewn stone wall capping the orchard.
Green hay, the squat bowl-cuts of peach trees.
Shorn branches plastered in pale chalky mud.
A tangle of sumac blocks the old path.
Beads of rain shatter against the window.
Here, I am the prophetess of yesterday,
Proverb swallowed by the wind, psalm without an audience.
Just a white clapboard church, the cathedral of trees.
May 27th, 2014
I am young; my youngness parades itself across my face every time I want to be taken seriously. The heat broke as the thunder ambled across the sky. My mouth red and dripping with strawberry juice. I have a rash on my right arm and I don’t know why.
May 19th, 2014
Today I caught a fox in the glare of my headlights. He trotted down the middle of the lane in front of me. I was talking to my sister about things I didn’t want to know.
Today I was riding in my father’s pick-up truck when he made a detour to get chicken feed, through a valley where everything is owned by someone named Martin. Martin’s Ag, Martin’s Garage, Jenn Martin’s Salon.
Today I went for a slow run and didn’t stop no matter how badly I wanted to. In the shower afterwards, I teared up over something I was angry about almost two years ago now.
The warm wash of tea down my throat soothes me, just enough. My body feels very, very heavy. I think today is over.
May 18th, 2014
My little sister’s friend has been here all afternoon. At twelve, she is as tall as I am, but freckled and round-faced, wearing a blue t-shirt and cutoffs, dirty sneakers, an orange bandana on her head. She looks like a younger version of someone I blog with, I think. Recently, it came to light that both she and her seven-year-old sister have been molested by their grandfather for as long as they can remember.
She is chasing a chicken around the yard, laughing. The fine, silvery hairs on her legs glisten in the light and there is a smear of dried mud on her calf. The chicken in question escapes every time and after some cajoling on the part of my sister, both girls traipse out of sight towards the tire swing in the oak tree on the south side of the house.
I remember the summer before middle school. The awkwardness and anxiety, the first unfamiliar stirrings of nostalgia for days when haircuts didn’t matter and bodies weren’t a mystery. I wonder what it’s like to have to worry about testifying in court when you’re supposed to be worrying about whether you’ll embarrass yourself trying to open your combination lock or whether you’ll be the last of your friends to be kissed. I wonder if, thirty years from now, this girl will resemble my mother, and I wonder if the specter of her abuse will maintain a silent presence in the lives of her own children.
At dinner, I serve her broccoli and ask the usual questions about school and summer plans. There is so much that I cannot relieve.
May 16th, 2014
Sometimes Amazing Grace makes me wish I was still religious. I wonder about my own deep-seated beliefs, what sort of need they are rooted in.
I burned through eight months
of dry leaves, flaking paint
the term papers and the bank statements.
Struck the lighter wheel and released
another hollow flare into the cool
blue bottle of the world.
There is nothing left that I want.
Nothing but trains
and the last glimmer of a Sunday evening
and every catch of light between here and the harbor.
Arms thinner than mine lock around me like a protection;
behind your back my delinquent hands
curl into a scared child’s fists and I tell myself
not to be afraid, not yet, to drink
in the sorrow and not yet the dread.
Always be the one to turn away.
Stronger arms now, my name like a husk,
like sandstone, like velvet.
Another small vial bursting
and shattering inside me with each embrace.
Here is the bed, the bare coat hooks, the cold kettle;
here is my hand, my breast, my throat.
Give me a story to tell them about this year.
I wash the charcoal sludge of makeup from my thin eyelids,
translucent as a bird’s in the screen-lit early morning.
Semicolons, the tangle of our knees.
Here is my bottle of tears and it is empty.
I pick the colored glass from my skin.
The sun swallows the highway and when my mother calls
I lose the skyline.
May 13th, 2014
Nineteen years are swollen in my throat. The humidity is oppressive and the walls of this house seethe with anger. Force your voice down into your stomach, turn the other cheek.
May 12th, 2014
You are the only person to look at me like I am the sun. Sometimes you are so familiar that I forget exactly who you are. You grab me by the wrist and pull me through the door, dramatically, as if we are two characters in a movie instead of two imperfect young women living inside of an afternoon in May. I collapse into you and we are laughing and we are beautiful. I swallow my fear and it dissolves into light and pollen and wings. You envelop the day and color my memories gold and I wish for all the world that I had the words for how I have missed you, but then I remember that I don’t need to explain these things. Not anymore. You are the only person I have ever trusted to reciprocate my love, the only person with whom I have nothing to prove.
May 8th, 2014
I am done with my last exam of my first year of college and I have the next few days to myself before going home and the sun is shining and the air smells sweet and sounds like quarreling birds and people are still petty and I am still nervous but right now I am happy.
May 5th, 2014
Whatever this is, I can’t manage to swallow it. Everything graceless and beyond the reaches of my self-awareness. Hands shake, bruises darken. Is this who I am always going to be?