Noah, I’m scared that I’m dying
How have you been? Or where
have you been?
There are weird spots on my tongue
and I’m convinced it’s cancer.
I haven’t thrown up in two days
but I also haven’t really eaten.
I’ll count it as a victory.
Noah, I’ve got that pain in my chest
that feels like a heart attack,
but you’re not here to keep me calm.
You weren’t last time, either, but
I can’t go to the hospital
by myself, again.
The way they look at me
makes me feel worse.
Noah, it’s just anxiety. I’m not
dying, but my throat hurts and
I can’t stop coughing.
I’m not dying. I’m not.
Noah, what’s your last name again?
I want to send you a postcard
from Jersey, just so you know
how good you’ve got it. Wherever
If I take a deep breath, I can
hear the wheezing in my chest.
I’m not dying, but I must be if
I’m so afraid that I am.
Noah, will you come melt
my bones and take me to the
If they tell me I’m making all
of this up, I’ll rip my hair out.
I’ll kiss them.
(you) & keep your flickering body in a jar until the light goes out.
I’ll resurrect electricity when I find you on the porch.
// Your father might leave. Your mother might teach you the wrong
words for this. Everyone will be scared of the ending world
but I will build a new one & promise not to turn to ash,
to call love everything except
For awhile, all our mothers must burn.
/// You might kiss girls. You might not be
a girl at all. Your body might be at war
with your heart. You’ll take up arms, but find
a peace treaty. I’ll bandage the wounds
& feed the troops & swear not to make jokes
about my own body being Switzerland.
I won’t make any jokes at all. I’ll practice
//// If you meet the ugly of the world,
kill it with kindness & refuse to turn
your saliva to vinegar.
///// Our family has strong arms, but if the bridge collapses
& the current sweeps you under,
remember that I can dive.
Our lungs are even stronger.
////// There are monsters under the bed, but
they are only our own. We make them when we
refuse to love ourselves.
/////// This life is about learning
everything we can learn & trying
our best not to hurt anyone. Do not
sharpen your knowledge into a knife.
You’ll only cut yourself.
I’ll stop the bleeding if you do.
//////// You’ll see my own scars & this is where
all mothers must burn, that everything
in life sets itself on fire.
The forest will fall to the ground
but grow again—more wild.
The burns are saying that everything here
survived to show you how.
i hit my coworkers shoulder lightly and he was like “you’re going to make me cry like a girl” and i was like “what’s wrong with being a girl?” and he was quiet for a moment then he looked into the distance and whispered “the social standards they’re forced to live by”
I want to be able to tell you
that when we read Hamlet in class,
my teacher leaned back against the blackboard
and pushed his hands into his khaki pockets
and said he loved the way Ophelia died.
He said he loved how beautiful it was,
all that pale, all that lifeless, all that
you take my breath away forever, baby.
He said it so I could see the pink in his mouth
behind his smile. He had chalk on him
all day after. He had crime scene on him
all day after.
I want you to know that my legs
are so used to being crossed for you
that they forget when it is time to run.
It is why we fall so often. It is why the gravel
loves us most, skins our knees and our palms
and calls it loving, calls it intimate.
You and the gravel have a lot in bloody common.
I want you to know how scared my mama is.
She holds my hands to her sides and says
no boys, okay? No boys because they take.
Take, take, take. No boys because night has
their faces in all the corners, their sneers
painted into the sky. The crickets are actually
their whispers, okay? I want you to know
how fear seems to run in my family but
skip the male genes.
I want you to see how badly my hands
turn unsure when I board my train.
I want you to know that I’ve been reading
the same sentence of my book since
nine stops ago.
I want you to know that I’m not texting anybody,
that the woman next to me
is not my friend, but I will lean a little closer
to her anyway.
I want you to know that I have no keys with me,
but I hope my loose change sounds
like sharp to you.
I want you to know how safe is
a language unlearned and
I am second generation lost.
I want you know that I will remember
the colour of your eyes and always forget
the definition of compliment, of romance.
I want to read you a list of all that I want to say
and another of everything I couldn’t.
I want to tell you that
both lists are the same, as I
uncross my legs and fold them back
the other way.