Keep Pretending

You have never laid a finger on me
but your grip holds
tight around my neck
and I have been gasping for air
since you first showed me
your temper erupting from
your palms landing on the
one you promised to care for

You proved to be a
volcano spreading your lava over
birthday parties and graduations

A tsunami ruining beach days and
washing away sand castles and smiles

You have never laid a finger on me,
but your grip left
bruises on my young mind
and you spent twenty-two years
pretending they weren't there

You are everything
I don't want in
a partner,
a friend,
or myself
and I will scrub your essence
out of my soul, mind, and body
until the only thing
linking us is our
last name

Blistered Hands

my blistered hands
have forgotten what it felt like to
reach for something that isn't
running in the opposite direction

forgive me if i doubt your love
for i have never held something
that didn't slip through my fingers
whenever i looked away

every time i wake with
a kiss on my cheek and
my heart safely in your hands

you are giving me
a break from
reaching because
you are
always
right here

5 Stages of Grief

1 – Denial
I rush to your room,
a small iced tea from Dunkin’ in my hand,
lemon 2 sugars

I see your face and the world is still,
the screams in my head the
only thing I could hear

“She’s gone”
and whispered “sorry”s from
nurses who don’t even look at us
“The social worker should be here soon,
she died 5 minutes ago
we’re still filling out the
paperwork”

You lie in
that bed in
a room
overlooking
the water and
it almost feels like a vacation,
though your face shows
no color

You lie there and
my tears are falling
like each of my eyes
a broken faucet,
filling the sink of
This Can’t Be Happening
until we reach the point of
This Is Not Happening

This can’t be happening

We go home and
the air around me is
imperfectly still,
completing the scene I created in my head.
You’re coming home soon
I’m going to see you again
Repeat
Repeat

I search for your voice
every time my phone rings,
I won’t eat pickles
except on cheeseburgers
because I’m waiting for you
to share them with

I walk into your house and I can almost see you

Sitting

Asking me what I want for dinner
and why I haven’t done anything with
those papers on the table
Almost

2 – Anger

Why did you leave me
You didn’t have to leave me
Not yet
It wasn’t supposed to happen yet
You didn’t even tell me
I need another day
just 5 fucking minutes and
I could’ve seen you.
Am I not even important to you?
Do I not matter?
How can you leave me here like this?

3 – Bargaining

Maybe I could’ve given you another day.
Maybe if I missed that concert the night before,
maybe if I sat by you all night and
didn’t let go of your hand
maybe you would still be here
maybe I could’ve helped your lungs
to keep breathing,
your heart to keep beating
I should’ve been there to save you

I’m sorry

4 – Depression

I know this is my fault

But I don’t know how to live like this
I don’t want to live like this

My heart is empty and
there’s no one to fill this space and
I don’t want anyone to fill this space
it’s not theirs
it’s not even mine
it’s yours

I see you in everything and
how can I get out of bed
knowing you won’t be there to
catch me when
I start crumbling

I am crumbling

I can’t stop crumbling

I don’t even want to live anymore

5 – Acceptance

One year later,

my heart still feels empty sometimes,

maybe most of the time,

but other times…

Other times,
I know I have enough of you to
fill the empty spaces to the ceilings with
photo albums and
home videos and
everything I learned from the
greatest teacher out there
(but nothing involving math homework
because that was never your specialty).

I don’t know where you are or
what you’re doing and
I could spend years trying to
figure out if there is a heaven,

but right now…

right now,
I am trying to fill that
emptiness in my chest with

everything you would be proud of.

Raindrops and Oceans

The rain creates streams on my windshield
as tears do the same down my cheeks,
soaking my t-shirt and,
though my vision’s too blurry to
make out the letters and
my fingers too shaky to
press the right buttons,

I find your name on my phone.

I hold my breath long enough to
press that green button and
listen for
your voice.

Too many times
I’ve sat alone
drowning in my own sea of
sadness,
not even attempting to
swim,

but now, I am suddenly
fighting
against the current long enough to
reach for
your hand.

You hold me
and that sea shrinks into a
puddle
for us to jump in
and I know

when the rain starts again,

you’ll be there

to hold my
umbrella.

Defining Your Worth

You are not defined by the
number of people with whom you’ve
shared that taste of vodka on your tongue in a
crowded bar. You are not defined by the nights
you’ve spent alone squeezing your pillow to
trick your mind into forgetting that the one
person you want next to you is
running into the arms of someone else.
You are not defined by the
shaking of your hands or the
knots in your back.
You are not defined by those
jeans that don’t fit or the
scars that cover both your wrists.
You are not defined by those
cancelled plans or
unanswered text messages.
You are not defined by the
girl who said she loved you while
planning her future with Prince Charming,
by the tears that soaked through your sheets or
the echo of her voice whispering
“I can’t.”

You are worth
so much more than your
speeding heart or
racing thoughts can tell you.
You are worth
so much more than you
can imagine right now, but
keep imagining because
one day you will be able to
wake up and say
truthfully
“I AM WORTH
EVERYTHING.”

My Coming Out Story

I took a deep breath and swallowed
hard trying to rid myself of the
fear that found a home
blocking my throat.
Words forgotten the moment they left my lips and you stared right
through me. I watched your mind
tracing every action and reaction you’ve ever seen that wasn’t the
typical
straight girl aesthetic.

“You really need to think about this”
That’s what you managed to say.
Think
My hands shake with every sound you make
Think
I do nothing but think
Think
I wouldn’t crumble your world with this news if I didn’t think
Think
I can’t think anymore

“This is a burden I don’t want you to carry”
Burden
I am a burden
Burden
You are burdened
Burden
But my life isn’t a crime committed in the dead of night with loaded guns and ski masks
Think
My life is not a sex scene in that movie you thought was kid-friendly
Burden
I shouldn’t have to bury my face in the sleeves of my hoodie
Think
I shouldn’t have to make up a comfy chair and carefully choose my words
Burden
I shouldn’t have to avoid eye contact with the girl across the room because I do not have a
dick between my legs
Think

“Are you sure?”
Do you think I’m fucking sure?
Do I need to provide a folder of evidence for you?
Should I film the intimate nights in a dimly lit room?
Do you want to be in that room when we brush against each other’s bare skin?
Would that prove it to you?
Think. Burden. Think. Burden

“Maybe it’s just her…”
Actually it is her.
That’s the fucking point.
Maybe I love her.
Maybe I love girls.
Maybe –

“Why don’t you try…”
No.
No I will not try to fit into your mold.
No I will not pretend for the comfort of those who can’t see past who I
fuck to see that I am a real person.

I am a person.

Please understand that.

Please, mom,

Understand.

Broken Home

When I was four, my mom asked me if she should divorce my father.

She looked at me through
tears in her eyes,
relocating
her right shoulder.
The wall she was
pushed into moments before
broke under the pressure of her
fragile bones and
she was barely standing.
I searched for her
happiness in
the ashes that used to be a
loving father and caring husband,
but the wind blew them away and
there was
nothing
left.

When I was four, my mom asked me if it would be okay to divorce my father.

She did not want her
children to be
from
a broken home,
so instead
me and my brothers lived
inside
a broken home,
broken walls,
broken bones.
But at least
the windows remained
intact.
At least the screams remained
behind doors,
behind smiles,
behind pretending.

When I was four, I got really good at pretending.

Whenever I started to speak,
I remembered that the
perfect strokes of this
painting would become
messy
if the words fell from my tongue.
I swallowed them like
poison
and they devoured
my wellbeing
creating scars to be
explained away by
pretending.
I got really good at
pretending.
My mom taught me well.

When I was four, my mom asked me if she should divorce my father.

When I was four, my mom didn’t listen when I said yes.