Dear body, thank you for surviving me

I find detox tea in the back of my mother’s cabinet

& suddenly we are both teenage girls

comparing waistlines in the bathroom mirror

my mother – hard from the years, yoga pants 5 days out of the week,

who doesn’t believe for one second in all that

“beauty advertising propaganda”

is suddenly soft

is insecure

I find detox tea in the back of my mother’s cabinet

& I am fifteen again

throwing up after dinner

sometimes real life is too human for poems

& I am only now learning to take up space

I say I am healed now

because my dinner no longer looks like numbers

like regret

but the truth is I still lift my shirt in the bathroom sometimes

enamored by my own smallness (on the good days)

there are moments that my worth lies

in the flatness of my stomach

They say that it is harder to recover

from an eating disorder than a drug addiction

that this willful hunger will take half of its victims

to their graves

Yesterday in an empty subway cart

I saw a woman spread out across three seats

& I think of how different we are.

It’s like that, I think

when you are used to being made smaller

you stay small even when there is room.

Today I am growing

& I mean that is every sense.

I can look in the bathroom

& see only a bathroom

not another way to lose the calories.

I can look at fat

& see all the ways I have chosen to love myself

rather than a reason not to.

There are the days I stand in front of a mirror

& count all the ways I could shrink

& then there are the days I see

the closed up scars

& the stretch marks

& all the ways I tried to die but didn’t

There are days I look at my body

& see only healing

I haven’t been able to get warm

My body is a graveyard of everything I used to be / there is ownership I can swear I used to have / the more you say a word the less real it sounds / mine / mine /my body was once mine / I don’t remember anymore / I tell my therapist that I sure am blaming a lot of my problems on my sexual assault / like that was the marker of before and after / the carving on my headstone / but the truth is there is so much and I have always been as soft as first fallen snow / just as impressionable / all these footsteps have left marks I don’t know how to cover up anymore / there are so many parts of me that have become foreign / how do you spit out an anger that is melting you in an unreachable place / and time doesn’t heal anything / in the sense that if you make me talk about it now / my words will be just as broken / just as slippery ice cracking down the center / just as flooded lake / just as / did you really think the winter could protect you from drowning? / Soon I will be 21 / someday I will dig up my own grave / because 15 year old me is just as alive as she was 6 years ago / the past doesn’t stop living when we want to kill it / I have always been as impressionable as first fallen snow / but there is more of me to come / the clouds are just waiting

 

So my good bitch depression is back

& I’m sitting on the library floor drinking a nasty spinach smoothie

like this will save me

like if I can clean my insides out with some $6 health drink

maybe it will reach the parts of me I’ve been digging dirt out of since I was 13

& the truth is I didn’t even ask for spinach in my smoothie

but now I’ve got it

maybe the smoothie lady is trying to tell me to stop being so self destructive

& I know the truth is she’s messed up like 5 orders before mine but sometimes

it’s nice to believe in signs

or omens

or things happen for a reason

it’s nice to think someone wants me to get better

library floor spinach smoothie

at least I am still functional

only a little late to class

only partially hiding in the bookshelves

I mean the place my depression chose to sit is half empty of books

& I can see everyone but at least they are not looking at me

I mean the places my depression chooses to sit are always in plain sight

but no one ever looks

or once I told my mom I wanted to die and she told me to get ready for school

I think a lot about how maybe my depression isn’t bad enough

once my dad told me about a man who’s depression was way worse than mine

I have heard so many well intentioned words that all mean “stop complaining”

hey dad I don’t think most people who kill themselves actually spend all day in bed but I’ll dig a grave out of every crevice of my body if it will make you understand I have been breathing in dirt faster than I can spit it out

my mouth is a shovel & my brain – a mudslide

I mean I will keep talking about this until I drown in my own grave

or leaves bloom from my tongue

as long as I cannot forget

you cannot either

& if no one hears me at least I will have created a garden to the sound of “someday”

to the sound of “today I am still here”

sun on the horizon

laughing butterflies out of my stomach

if poetry is healing then let this be my prayer

let me spill enough pain into words that someone remembers what I say

for all the days we are depressed enough for people to notice

we are still alive

for all the days screams feel like whispers

I am writing this poem in the hopes of postponing my own burial

but anyways you should probably know

I always wanted to grow into a tree when I die &

they can do that now ya know

there are forests full of second chances

untitled

when I came back to prague last summer you were the first person I saw

& yeah I was fine

just crying cause I thought you couldn’t hold a place

couldn’t hug home

& here you were

we stopped talking a couple weeks ago

probably for reasons we could have figured out

but I don’t think you wanted to

telling someone you aren’t worth their time

only merits so much sympathy before agreement

& I still love you

like I said I would

& you didn’t do anything wrong

just the only thing you were taught how to

like me

I always pick the people with the most scars

have lost too many friends to a world that turns them hard

the softest fruit always bruises the easiest

so I understand

why you left

or why I had to

there have always only been two options

you are either the knife or the cut & sometimes there is no more blood to spare

so you turn cold

so I leave

so I keep having dreams where you swear you hate me and I kiss your tired eyes

so you swear you hate me and I don’t let go of your hand

it was never me you hated

it has always been the blood

Empty space

“Dear survivor, healing is not a destination but a practice.” – Amita Swadhin

I’ve come to the conclusion that trauma might take up negative space | I leave pain in places I have been like a breadcrumb trail | I always find my way back to collapsing | healing asks me to take my medicine | says stability is more important than the poem | sometimes the line between artist and self destruction gets so blurry | I say I am a history of bad habits | healing says no | you are a history of breaking them | healing looks at me through inked over scars | says look how with every self destructive break your body keeps saving you and saving you | another version of this poem goes like this | last night I had a dream that I lost all my fingers | gone with whatever I was holding on to | the more I learned to live without fingers the faster they grew back | sometimes surviving trauma is not recovery it is just acceptance

Our Joy is All We Have to Fight With

I bite my tongue every time a man calls sexual assault victims “liars.”

This is not a metaphor.

I have literally been spitting out blood

ever since men learned how to speak.

When the sun sets

you are all the men in dark alleys

I was warned about.

Somedays you lurk in the concrete and street

lights of my own bed.

 

I keep having the same nightmare.  

Here, men listen to me like they do in waking hours

which is to say they don’t.

 

Once, I was drunk at a high school party

and a boy said he would kiss me if he didn’t

respect my boyfriend so much.

 

Once, I was drunk at a high school party

and I did not have a boyfriend

so the boy did not ask.

 

I have journeyed to the edges of myself and back

to satisfy insatiable men.

Here is to all the hours I have spent

crying to nobody.

Men don’t seem to understand that the messes they leave
do not magically disappear.

I am tired of cleaning up both dirty laundry on the floor

and the pieces of myself men have decided were inconvenient.

 

To be human is to take up space.

To be woman is to be more than the times I’ve said yes.

I mean, when I am not there for your consumption,
I still exist.

 

Today, my presence is bull in a china shop

and I am embracing every shatter.

I am every time I was told to be quiet

but I have forgotten how to take commands.

I am so tempted to believe in a world where I am not afraid

that today, just for a minute, I am not.

 

Years ago, a man sucked the word “no”

from my mouth, and hid it in today.

As in, I just re-learned my own self worth.

 

I will be an interruption of this tragedy.

Our joy is all we have to fight with

so lets be so happy

lets own our own bodies

so damn loud

we drown out the ignorance

with all this freedom.