Skeleton Keys

I locked my heart in a steel box the first time it crashed into my ribcage backed by my anxiety, leaving bruises that will never go away

I wrapped it in chains when my best friend announced that I was sleeping with all the guys in my 3rd grade class when I didn't even know what sex was, leaving me alone at the lunch table with my tear soaked lunch box and my poetry as my only company

I buried it in darkest parts of my soul when my 5th grade dance ended with a limo full of everyone but me, parked outside my house, music so loud that sleep wasn't even an option

I pushed it down deeper and deeper until I only felt its beat when it was repeating words on max volume

Worthless. Failure. Lost. Sick. Crazy. Dramatic. Mistake. Burden.

I threw away all the keys when I ended my first relationship and tried to go home but he followed me around every corner to explain how psycho he thought I was. I'm still afraid to be anywhere near his house

With my heart locked up tight, I learned that keeping my head up and shoulders back was enough to show everyone how together I really wish I could be

I learned that people will ignore my cries if I smile for just a second, ignore the cuts traveling up my arms if I lie and say I fell

I became content with living behind walls so tall that no one could climb over

But you –

You come and listen to the words I can't get myself to say and understand the thoughts that run backward in my head. You ask about my heart and my world freezes for my heart remained in that steel box for far too long and I don't know how to explain this to you

You want to know, you want to understand and for the first time I think that maybe I could tell you, but I don't even know where to begin

it's going to take me a while to find all the keys and before I let you unlock this box, I need to know I can handle its contents on my own

I want to know my softest, most fragile parts before anyone else can touch them

I need to get to know myself again

without the boxes, the locks, the chains, or the walls

before anyone else can see everything I've been hiding for so many years

Published by

Nic Rasmussen

A Brooklyn-based poet who has a lot of feelings and writes about them quite often.

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