The breaking

I was 13 the day I broke my mother’s favorite vase

and she said

Isn’t it good that things make noise when they break

so that we know to move out of the way

as if shattering was a warning

rather than an end

So much of my life has been the putting back together

the hardware store glue

the coworker 7 years later who still sees the cracks

the way I am 13 again every time someone asks if I’m ok

I open my mouth and shards come out

or I am the shards

I have spent years trapped inside this throat

and now cannot find my way back into my body

I am the flowers crumpled into the carpet

how my mother never quite got the stains out

you wouldn’t have guessed

there was so much color just waiting

to live outside its body

But of course there was never a shattered vase

there was a bottle of pills, a pair of scissors & a lonely room

what I’m trying to say is

did anyone hear my breaking before I hit the ground

was there ever a warning?

but also this is not about the self-destructive tendencies of a girl

it is about the sound that is still vibrating off of these walls

the poems that are always the same

(the shattering is a warning rather than an end)

there are days when I stay in bed

buy ice cream at the deli on my block

watch two seasons of The Office in one day

& do not know if this is selfcare

or mental illness holding me hostage

My friend says “just get up & do the things you need to do”

and suddenly all the days I have done this

mean nothing and the days I have not are failure

I think about the walk to the subway

the people pushing up against me

the men who always stare too long

the professor who calls on me when my hand is not raised

the customer who yells about the wrong coffee

the way the smallest pieces of glass can still leave you

needing stitches

the way I still keep all my flowers in plastic pots

the way I am still so scared

of the breaking

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