love letters

Dear Me You,

You don’t have to smile if you don’t want to. People will still say it–“smile!” but trust me; you’ll learn very soon to smile when you want.

Grow out the relaxer, cut your hair. Trust me, you’ll be a new person. You will feel beautiful for the first time; I will not describe this, as you must feel it for yourself.

You’ll want to spell Isabelle without the “le” on the end. He will insist on the “le.”

You will never be perfect. This includes motherhood. So kiss Bailey and Avery and relax, you’re doing fine.

Take a deep breath. Go to New York. Stand beneath the arches, but don’t smile. The picture will be perfect.

Take the job. It will just be a job, but the money will be alright. It will devastate you in the end, but you will be better for it.

Write. Write often. It won’t always be great, but it will be cathartic.

You will feel most alive when you are in New York City. It is just as you imagined.

Look at George and Bailey and Avery. Watch them often. Take fewer photos. Remember what you didn’t capture.

That fluttering in your chest, the butterflies that you were afraid of—that is happiness. Look around and appreciate the perfection in the imperfections.

Trust me. It will be worth it, I promise.

in pursuit of something beautiful

She has never been beautiful to me. I don’t mean to say she isn’t pretty. She’s top heavy, to be certain. Like she spent so much time staring into the mirror perfecting what was already gorgeous that she let the rest of her go to seed.
Parts of her are breathtaking, and seeing them is always breathing for the first time.
Parts of her are grotesque, rotten and soft in too many places. You learn to ignore these parts, even though you stand the risk of catching what festers there.
People say she’s beautiful. They say it and they set their mouths and narrow their eyes and you are to agree with them or you are to go elsewhere.
“Sure,” you say. “She’s beautiful.” They proclaim her lovelier than the rest, with more. That’s why the others hate her, they say. She is more than they are.
But she says this looking into the mirror, and the mirror smiles back, and she forgets that beauty is not created in a vacuum and she is not the world. She takes up a great deal of room, and even the spaces that aren’t hers have her name on it.
She doesn’t see how beautiful the others are.
You wonder about them, but you dare not avert your eyes. You wonder if it was ever okay to question her aloud. Not now, but you think once. Once upon a time.
Not for you, of course. Never for you.
You long to be alive within her, though you will never be a part of her.
You’ve spent so much time staring up at the possibility of her you can’t see past her otherness. The things that fade her and ruin her.
You want to leave. You should.
But where to go? What beautiful brilliant splendid things are there? You spent so much time trying to make her beautiful to you, you forgot what beauty was.
You are afraid to leave her. How to say it?
I want to leave.
What to say? They will ask why. Why? It’s perfect. She’s not perfect, but we know her.
There must be beauty here, you insist. Just not here.
You leave. You don’t completely abandon her, if it would indeed be abandonment. You don’t think anyone would miss you if you left her, but you can’t completely let go. You want to see another side of her.
You want to see what they see when they pledge to her and die for her and dare you to question her. You want to know what they know when they tell you she is better.
Surely they know something you don’t?
Surely there is beauty in her?
Surely the decay that ruminates within her, the desolation that you see, surely that is only in the part that you see.
You leave in search for something beautiful. You hope you don’t have to travel too long. You’ve been without a home for long enough already.

Submit

I will not submit.
In my former ignorance
I might have said yes.
I might have begged for it,
And inside I would be raw
And hollow,
But I would have said yes.
Now?
I will not submit.
I have unlearned what it means
To be trod on
And abused
And my mouth does not work
To beg.
Take everything.
I will not submit.

Precipice

Light?
Light.
Out there in the dark
unknowable deep
Luminescence. Dim
And unsteady, but
Present.
Tattered torn nothing
Crumbles behind
Jagged rocks reach up
Like death below.
Ground beneath stills
And settles.
I could wait.
The ground bubbles
But does not move again
Perhaps it won’t.
Darkness deepens here,
And I could grin
And bear it.
The ground rips apart
And I am everywhere
Hanging over the precipice
With a vine, a lifeline.
I could pull myself over
And settle on the ruins.
In the corner, beyond the precipice
Light. Dim.
Unsteady.
But present.
I release what is
And reach
And reach
And reach
For what could be.

pretty words.

You gave him pretty words so that the truth of him
The truth of You
Doesn’t turn to ash in your mouth.
When you push the words out
They are bitter
But it doesn’t last as long.
The sting of the bruise doesn’t hurt as much
As the scar the wound makes
So you pretend not to see it,
Pretend that it was always there
There there was something in the way
You looked at him, you made him
That way.
You forgive him this.
You love him.

He left. He trod on your heart and he left.
You were broken and bleeding and
He stopped to clean your blood
From his shoe.
And he kept walking.
Your heart stopped.
Again and again it stopped.
You waited for him to come
For it to beat again.
He did not show. He wasn’t ready.
You forgive him this.
You love him.

He was with her while your bed grew cold.
While time wound down for you
He spent all of Your time
with her. You waited for him
to find himself. For him to bring you back with him.
He did not come.
Love brought you back.
It did not come from him.
It was not sweet or pretty.
It did not warm you.
It stung you. The ache of the deadening muscle
Of your heart
healed itself. It stretched and shuddered
And beat again.
Without him.
Your face cracked and shattered
But your smile returned.

He came back..
He whispered in your ear that he was stupid
Over your shoulder his eyes locked with hers
You said it was you.
“I’m the stupid one,” you offer. He accepts this from you.
It is familiar. He is home.
You did not say that he made you that way.
You only said that he made you.
He does not tell you that he found himself
In the arms of someone else
But you forgive him this.
You love him.

In the dark you are lonely
And hollow
and lost. And you have lost.
He takes this and makes it his
He steals your grief from you
And he leaves to find himself.
You are lost again.
You reach for yourself
The person that you grew
In his absence.
You can’t remember her.
Your bed grows cold
But you wait for him.
You give him pretty words so that
The truth of him
The truth of you
doesn’t turn to ash in your mouth.
You give him pretty words
So that
The truth
Of him
Doesn’t turn
To ash
in your mouth.
You forgive him this.
You love him.

year eight

You brought home wilted flowers and cheap
champagne.
I scraped the razor up my calf with the phone tucked under my chin, while you struggled with your tie and blew smoke rings from the bathroom window.
We both ignore the neighbors making up again.
The champagne was flat but I drank it from the bottle, the ache of the support panties crushing my ribs.
My nails chip as I shove them into the heels, the blisters on the balls of my feet crying out.
You toss the tie onto the bed that you glare at. I roll my eyes at you, and you reply, “I didn’t say anything.”
You cast another meaningful glance at the bed.
I swallow my guilt with the last of the champagne.
You grab your coat and I rake my eyes down your body. You deflate as if I have pierced you.
“What’s wrong with what I’m wearing,” you demand.
“Nothing.” I sigh.
The eyeliner on my right eye is a dream; the left is a cross between a raccoon and a caricature of a cat burglar. I remove the lipstick from my teeth and darken the right eye.
You don’t notice.
You turn on the radio and I roll my eyes.
“What’s wrong with my music?” you demand.
“Stop whining,” I sigh.
You ignore the parking space that I point out to you. We are late for our reservations by the time we hobble into the restaurant from the mile distance from the entrance to our car, me with support panties resting somewhere beneath my navel, you with your tattered boots and an outfit that says “help me.” We are careful not to touch as we are led to our table.
We haven’t been here. I have begged you for years to take me, as all of the people who know say that it really is the best in the area. You remark that “we’ve never been anywhere this fancy,” and my ears burn.
Why are you you?
You are self righteous when you order your domestic beer in lieu of a nice wine or a craft brew, but we both falter at the sight of our plates. You cast a knowing, smug glance in my direction, but you do not speak.
I attempt to talk to you about politics and justice, but you can not engage me. You attempt to talk to me about sports, but my eyes glaze over and I almost die of boredom into my plate.
Tears melt into the rabbit, who actually died of natural causes. As I chew into him forcefully I smile at you. You smirk knowingly.
We leave hungry. We don’t order dessert.
The drive home is silent. I take off my bra in the car, and you beg me to take my feet from the dash.
I think you’re an asshole.
There is a cloud ahead. At the same time we remark that it looks like a man praying.
You reach over and you grab my knee.
“Did you shave? You missed a spot,” you offer.
“You look like you haven’t showered,” I reply.
Later we share the ice cream that you said you didn’t want. There isn’t enough for both of us and I sigh my frustration loudly and often.
The neighbors make up again.
“You want to do it,” I ask absently. You roll over and squeeze my breast.
“If you do.”
“I don’t.”
You go down to turn off the lights and return with my water. You hand me the book I left on the kitchen table. I offer you the glasses that you wouldn’t find on your own.
We clasp hands as we sink into sleep. I push you away from me and cocoon myself in the blanket. You shiver under the sheet valiantly.
“I love you,” you whisper.
“I love you, too,” I reply.
“Happy Anniversary.”
“Happy anniversary.”