how do i explain all the lost time, the mornings
spent sitting motionless when i should have been
exploding like a star, throwing light in all directions,
crippled by inertia and the thought that no one may
ever forgive me, ever, and that i am still that same girl
from fifteen years ago, slinging blood and hate and pills
and we like our memories shaken, not stirred
but the trees have already dropped their acorns of ire
and my skin is studded with seeds that grow too fast.
my lighter is empty but i still have a box of matches.
i used to climb trees trying to be closer to the sun,
but it was just the reflection from the airplanes.
a satellite emerges from my head but the signal is lost
and i used to think freewheeling was fun, but now i’m
nauseous with regret and the downhill doesn’t stop
until you hit a tree limb the ghosts of some teenage
kids left in the street. all those things i never told you
are sealed behind the flesh that has grown over my mouth
and instead flood forth from my eyes, bathtubs flowing over
the porcelain lip of reason. i was supposed to be past all this,
i was supposed to be all growth like the lushest rainforest,
my brain a well-tended garden, my heart a conifer that never
would brown, and i would try to reframe this all,
but i have already dropped the match.
my head is a time capsule of memory:
bury me only to dig me up years later,
after the ribbon cutting ceremony
blessing the old graveyard for a new
we’ve got nowhere to build but up now.
inside: letters turned to cinder turned to ash,
a well-loved prescription bottle of pills turned
to powder, provider name and phone number
blacked out, just these four words,
take two at bedtime. then
an asterisk and a fold-out tome of
side effects, but maybe sleep can erase
these led lights and flat screen melodramas.
in the apartments, the tenants find their
kitchen drawers open and all the knives missing,
but the cat stays asleep on the windowsill
so nobody panics.
the walls are too thin. conversations
penetrate the membranes: “what’s it like to be alive?”
somewhere buried in that time capsule
is the answer to that, too.
at least i used to think so.
we put our mouths on mute,
and suck in the air conditioned atmosphere.
in another hundred years, this will again
be a graveyard, just not the kind you thought.
i wait for the ear plug to expand in my canal
after the first time, it’s hard to get a good seal.
my shoulders ache despite morning yoga
like rubbing your belly and patting your head
i can either breathe, or i can move,
but not both, not at the same time.
the ear plugs are for when i can’t bear
the whoosh of the air conditioner
the phone with its digital ringtone
the tin-can radios, talk-show droning,
cowboy twanging, disney theme songs.
i take a step towards the doorway,
pause and breathe, then take another step
lock myself in the bathroom for an hour,
staring at my face in the tiny round mirror
that is hung too high. a disembodied head
with shadows under half-lidded eyes,
compressed purple foam in my ears
–it fills an empty space for now.
all i want is your love dripping into me like an iv–
people drive by my window, boxed into their little
cars, their big cars, worrying about the origins of
the universe, and hoping that dunkin donuts will
have that cheese bagel twist they want. these days
i think about all of the people i have loved and how
presumptuous it is of me to think i know love, love
in a closed fist, love in a bandage. some damage
the hospital can’t treat. the bonesetter simply looks
at me and sighs, the surgeon puts his gloves on.
even my veins shy away from your love. they get
out the saw, let the acid tabs dissolve. here it comes.
i might have woken up
detached myself from you
like a shadow leaving an object
detached myself from feeling
and remembering what feeling
the rationale lacking
some secret voice inside me
intense, stormy interpersonal relationships
my hips are not meant children
children crawling out of them
children tied to them
children clinging to them
staring up with wide eyes
staring up with nightmares in their eyes
the reflection of their mother in their eyes
i knew this wouldn’t work. you can’t get away
with having your point-five kids because someone
will eventually coming looking for the other half
and they’ll call DYFS when they find the mess
and what of you?
with a kiss, i could send you over the cusp
a whisper of breath to send you over the edge
there would be no coming back, you say.
we can never go back.
these pills are virgin blue and cleanse my mind
of thought until i am a blank canvas but not meant
for paint or ink. hang me in a museum somewhere
under glass, titled: effacement.
i think (when i can think) that i might one day
go again to the lighted room with the buddha statues
and the plants, the brocade the on decorative hutch,
that heaven must be a psychotherapist’s office.
he reassures me that he never fucks his wife
and i swallow this as some sour pill, or else
let it dissolve like aspirin under the tongue.
but the throbbing in my temples doesn’t go away.
some days my head is a refrigerator. the grapes
wrinkled and the avocados turning pasty. some days
i remember that i can’t remember, and then every-
thing is okay, just before it softens and blurs out.
expand, moving up like a gliss on my heart–
my heart that beats too fast, arrythmic coagulation of uneven memory,
concentric pulses that light up your screen with a green dot–i am here—
no, i was never there. i am present between the shaking fingers of a hand
held up beneath light that might sooner sear than warm. first they thought
they could cure me, that pain could be poulticed with a pill to the head,
but pull the trigger and you begin to see where it all unravels. i begin
to think exorcism is the only option–
contract, moving down like an anvil on my heart.