Maybe sometimes you do things
just to see how far you can go.
You’ve always been so far up on a pedestal-
maybe sometimes you jumped.
Not that anyone could tell.
You’ve always been clumsy.
Now all your bones are healed wrong.
So something’s off- in the way you stand,
And the way you walk;
The way you can’t look anyone in the eye
for fear they’ll make you go back up there
make you climb so high your ears would pop,
and no matter how loud you screamed
no one could hear you, not really.
So maybe sometimes you like to push the limits
just to prove them wrong
just to prove you’re not a nice girl
prove you’re more than a retired wooden puppet, dangling on a string.
You want them to know you haven’t had it easy
They won’t know from looking at you-
there’s nothing where they can see-
and they won’t know from listening
because you can’t tell them, can never tell them,
they can never know the truth;
can never know of pictures burned into your memory,
of bruises that still ache on cold nights
of all the ways you were finished before you ever began.
They can never know.
But you want them to see some darkness.
So you break the rules,
you break the chains
So easily and so often
until you’re free falling,
and that’s when the terror should hit you
That’s when you should think- I’m not this lost, I’m not this broken-
but you don’t;
you don’t think of anything.
People are screaming above you,
can’t hear them, not really.
You close your eyes and stretch out
And embrace the fall.
I was not always quite this mad.
There was someone, once.
Someone whom I drove away,
Long before he knew.
Someone once whispered,
deep in the dark,
that someday soon, I would soar.
That I would rise untouched from the ashes,
Leap, and the wind would swallow me with a roar.
We sat huddled in the mud
for but a few more minutes
until he grew his wings-
(just like him).
He grew his wings,
And he flew away.
Two days, I grieved.
Then, I learned.
I taught myself:
that strength was solitude.
So I built my fortress,
Tall and strong.
The bricks cut into my fingers
For anyone to see,
“Here stands a fortress-dweller,
Whose wings were killed by fear.”
I taught myself:
That there was more to life than dreams of flight.
So I made my suit of armour,
From metal and the weight of my heart.
I taught myself
That freedom would ensnare me.
So I rode into battle,
Day by day,
Until the only foe was me.
Then I fought myself,
Day by day,
Until the madness took me,
Swift and bare.
Today I stare at the pink of a setting sun
Through the gaps in the brick.
All at once,
Ripping through my shoulder blades,
They are shrunken, shrivelled and bloody
(just like me).
I try to take flight
But the scars of my sins anchor me.
I try to scale the wall
But the scars on my hands restrain me.
I try to plead
But the scars on my sanity forbid me.
So I sleep,
Cold to the bone,
Shackled for eternity.
As my eyes slide shut, I hope.
I hope, once more,
For two people huddled in the dark,
Sharing secrets and a laugh.
This time, I wouldn’t drive him away.
This time, I would hope-
For a stellar, magnificent flight.
You inhaled deep as you kissed my cheek
Your body was smaller in my arms that day,
Smaller than that yesterday.
I would watch it grow smaller still.
The rough burn of your stiff sari raised the hair on my arms.
I pressed my cheek on your head,
and decided to learn.
Short soft hair you hated,
Perfume and powder and lotion,
A blend of smells of home.
Your childlike grin as soon as you caught your breath,
Laughing at a well worn joke, together.
That time the mixer spilled
Chocolate milk all over the kitchen counter,
Even though it wasn’t your fault.
That was where your softness lay,
Beneath your quick temper and your strength,
Nestled between your love for me
and your love of the radio
And the way you saw things coming;
You were soft in the tears you cried for me
And that cradling arm of yours that protected,
Even though nothing was your fault.
When I remember you,
I remember your softness:
Your hand beating softly to an unknown rhythm on my arm,
Lounging on the bed together
On a summer afternoon as warm
As your smile as you sent me off to school.
No one will understand my metaphors
When I speak of you.
No one understood you,
Not when it mattered.
I watched you carefully live your life
So I carefully place you in my words
And cling to your hand
To make you stay.
Some stories are better left deprived of an ending,
A fullstop snatched away so the tangent hangs from a ledge,
Maybe like a jaw snapping shut halfway through a yawn
But perhaps more like an exploding chocolate milkshake-
Leaving kitchen walls painted with its essence,
An empty cup,
And a hand to hold it.
I seldom slow down to truly ponder-
Thinking is a dangerous game-
But it hardly takes a second to crave.
(So I do,
Even as someone calls out my name
Over and over, until it is time to hide and be brave.)
It hardly takes a bit of sense
To consider a candle
Long past its time,
Still bleeding out uselessly-
The blind keep urging on a flickering flame
When they should blowing it out.
Someone thought to play a game
So here I stand, ever thinking,
Ever planning, ever falling short.
Ever missing, and ever missing out.
Ever wishing, ever aching,
Ever learning thankless lessons.
Ever seeing too clearly.
I would blow it out
Ever so swiftly, none would notice.
No ripple in the darkness around:
Regression to the quiet.
A constant groan would even out,
Tucked safely into a crevice of eternity
Never to be found.