Suddenly, the ground moves and you’re transported to another world like an elevator rising slowly up. Only it’s moving so fast that you can’t take in where you’re going and who you’re becoming. The only thing you have with you is something you’ve loved for the longest time. While the elevator moves you cradle it. When you step off the elevator you take this thing to your face and breathe deeply. Only it doesn’t smell like what you love anymore. It smells like confusion and disappointment and you break down and cry. Because you can’t remember what it smelled like, you can only remember the way your heart fluttered. You won’t feel that flutter again. Or maybe you will, but it’ll be forever away and it’ll be a spasm not a flutter, because you’ll remember how that elevator broke you, how moving through time was too fast and too scary, like a roller coaster and the cart flies off the rails, and you’re just falling forever and ever and ever. You want that smell back more than anything. But you don’t have it anymore. All you have are aching fingers and tear-streaked cheeks. All you have is a memory you can’t remember.
I am nothing but twenty knuckles and a heart made of glass. The reflection of my muscle is you.
I watched you dance
through films over eyes
that are something like mosquito nets
drawn around queen beds, and nothing like
what love should feel like. I imagined being in love
should taste like summer or chai or chapstick or jazz.
You’d forgotten that through screens
you can see the vague outlines of things,
words have a little bit of meaning,
everything is back to front,
but sometimes the end makes more sense
than the beginning. It’s dark and quiet
and I don’t get stung by nasties carrying
diseases and discontent.
I wanted love like a poetry book
where life is sleepy and sad
and sweet like death. You gave me
love like malaria and heat waves
and not being able to hear jazz
— The God of Small Things, Arundhati Roy
I’m too old for sandwiches with the crusts cut off, for Barbies, for Deltora Quest, for milo milkshakes, for running through the sprinkler on a really hot day, for playing Hide and Seek, for showing my mother my drawings, for getting out of chores, for bedtimes. (I do them all anyway with joy.)
I’m too young for responsibilities, for a credit card, for job-hunting, for CV writing, for virginity, for alcohol, for peer pressure, for marijuana, for hands on my breasts, for showing a boy secret parts of my body, for falling in love, for writing something meaningful. (No one cares if I’m too young; I deal with it all anyway.)
I wish I weren’t too young for having people not trust me when I say that I’m in love.
I wish I weren’t too old for fingerpainting and playdough.
Sex, rice pudding, simply breathing, reading poetry, murder, colours, smiles, silences, the night, what happiness tastes like, what happiness doesn’t taste like, the last pages of a book, bitten down nails, tendons that ache, glasses of cold milks, ‘I love you’s, no kisses, eye kisses, cracking your spine, aromatherapy oils, staying in bed til late, waking up before the dawn, longing for arms, craving for touches, desires for certain tastes, long walks, summer heat, snowfall in the morning, when we remember that we are just animals.
I don’t know how I am lonely when just outside my room there are two sprawling trees with their leaves that brush against my windows, when there’s a dog barking loudly at eleven at night in the neighbourhood, when my parents are sleeping off their drink just down the hall. I don’t know how I am lonely when everything seems to be alive, and even if it’s not, then it once was, and even if it wasn’t, then all it takes is our imagination to make it so. Imagine if my comforter could talk to me, could wrap itself around me when I’m sad, could sing me to sleep when I’m all dehydrated and my cheeks are wet. Imagine if the lights could dim themselves, knowing when I needed silence and darkness because sometimes it’s when we’re stumbling over discarded memories that we find what we didn’t know we were looking for. If books could talk, do you think that their pages would agree with the way their author touched them, do you think that the words written would be the best way to imagine whoever is inside the story? I have a bookcase filled to the brim with books by my bed and I’ve only read maybe ten of the hundred there, and I like to pretend I know what it is to fall in love with stories. But the point is that there are thousands of people not just in my room but in my head, in my wrists, in my fingertips, on my tongue and underneath my breasts. The world will dissect me and there’ll be all these silent sleeping people inside my chest because they didn’t ever learn to talk when my heart was quiet. We only learn to talk from our parents, by imitating the weird and funny shapes their mouths make, by contorting our faces until they twist and a rumbling comes out of our throat and for the first time people understand what we want but never who we are. I can’t be a writer if the people inside me can’t talk, can’t tell me where they’ve been and who they’ve seen and the time they made love to the girl in the lingerie shop while her supervisor was busy sneaking cups of brandy from the kitchen. I don’t know, I don’t know, I can feel them weighing down my breath but even so I’m lonely and I just want to escape into the night, but I know if I leave the trees outside my door that I’ll feel guilty. And besides, there’s a boy who sleeps when I wake and who dreams, I like to think, of my bed and my skin, because I dream of his smile and his wit, and soon he’ll stumble into our bed and everything will be okay. I’ll still feel lonely but at least I won’t need words anymore, because he’ll understand me from the way our fingers touch when I pass him a mug, or when I sigh his name in my sleep, or when I bite down on his lip and scream beneath him. It’s okay. I’ll be lonely but so will he and the people inside me will be silent because I’ll make my own stories with someone who will love me for not making any sense at all.
with the arms that are branches
and the smile that is thin and cracked,
hold your arms around her waist.
If you squeeze tight
you will both
In the bus stop there are two people
and one person
and the sun does not reach the corners
where the shadows are.
From across the street
you watch them
because the wrinkles on her hands make you sad.
If you hold her tight tight tight
her skin might stretch smooth
It is December
and this moment
is the end of your life.
we will make and remake ourselves.
We will wake up
and her skin will be smooth
and your eyes will shine
and you will be
If you may, please hold yourself
inside yourself. Don’t let the nebulas
and the comets and the clouds of stardust
go wandering outside in the dead of the night.
Keep your hand on their shoulders. Murmur their names
in Arumenic, English, Latin, the language of zero gravity.
In this galaxy, it is warm with the kisses of starlight.
To know that I am but one shining girl in a world
that turns while staying still beneath my feet:
as breathtaking as your first kiss
behind the school bike rack,
running late for dinner.
You see, I am happy being small,
being just me & loving just you.
I ask that you console the stars
and keep their light from shining too far
and too dimly. Keep yourself within.
Love. Love. Love.