i'm not exactly a person-
more like a body
filled up with
things i never should've known
and things i never could've said.
and i wonder what you'd do
if i could.
so i tell strangers, i tell you,
because i'll never have to
look you in the face
or see your eyes hide
behind walls that never had to be built-
there are bodies buried in those, you know.
i never wanted any of that.
the way i never wanted to be the girl
who ran away from womanhood as it approached,
because adolescence was so much sweeter
at four feet tall.
i sprouted breasts in panic.
my limbs stretched and the pains at night
weren't just from growing pains- they were from
not being able to shrink back down.
i never signed up to reach twenty years old.
i never wanted boys with sweaty hands
to touch me, i never wanted to see
that red flower in my bottoms until they did.
i wonder what you'd think of me
if i told you how i'm never fooled
by your husband, even if you are.
six trips to the bottle last night,
did you know?
because i could hear the ice
tumbling into his huge, plastic cup
i could see in my mind's eye
as he lumbered, at one, two, three AM
to the counter and held the handle over
that cup for years. in the morning,
the bottle had a third missing.
it was full yesterday.
but you love him, you swear,
so much, huh, that you married this man,
your six-foot puppeteer, six months
after breaking with your fiance
of twelve years.
rebound after rebound, i guess,
marriage after marriage.
but you love him.
so you don't see empty bottles accruing
before a dozen captain morgan's hit the recycling,
or how your only friends now are his friends,
or how toxic he is to everyone i thought you loved
i thought you loved me.
your youngest son thinks the name aerica suits him better than jimmy.
his problem is that he can't speak.
he writes letters by the dozen and uses links as links
to hope like birds and hearts as ladders.
he won't respond to anything, not a single name but insists,
you will treat me like the girl i am.
he has had asperger's all of his life and it took him four months to figure out
that the weird feeling in his belly was that he liked a girl.
at only sixteen he moves in with his father, just to escape.
and your only daughter,
she -- i -- spend all my time away from you,
not speaking so that he can't hear me,
with my fingers in my throat
and a razor on an inch of available skin
because a human can only take
silence so long before it becomes a scream.
i wonder how you'd feel.
i don't even have the heart to leave.
i poison myself day after day
so that you don't fall to pieces
like our house, or our family.
but if you did, i'm sure, with rough hands
and rougher words, he'd try to put you together.
maybe because he loves you;
maybe because he doesn't want to move back in with his mother.
so i just keep silent.
i've turned into a mute so that i don't hurt you
and just let it all hurt me instead.
i'm your martyr, not your daughter, not anymore.
i don't tell you about the nights
with red cups in my fist,
or the mornings i wake up with a boy i don't love
lying next to me, sometimes clothed.
i don't tell you anything
because maybe i can still be a child,
your porcelain doll,
beautiful and perfect the way strangers would say i was
as you'd light up like the sun with joy.
if i pretend i'm untouched and perfect,
you can pretend i'm still something to you
and you won't even know that,
if you look closely,
if you ever moved in to kiss my forehead goodnight,
or to wipe away tears on my cheek,
you won't see
that i'm cracking.