What if there was a dictionary of smells, like you could look up banana and smell that and then you could look up the air before a rainstorm and then your mother’s perfume from when you were a child and then the first person you had sex with and also your favorite coffee shop in the town you went to college in. I wish that was a thing.
all the things that I am trying to say
are falling into the cracks between my brain and my mouth
and it’s too dark down there to dig them out and give them to you.
I am good at silence.
my therapist is asking me to list my good traits
and I can’t stop thinking about that night
you drove me home in the snow,
hand on my knee,
and how you said you wanted this
but once I gave it to you,
I’m thinking about the paring knife in the kitchen
and how very soft the skin on the insides of my arms are.
peaches, pears, plums.
bugs often live inside soft fruit
and worm their way out once they’ve had their fill.
my therapist asks me why I tried to drown myself
and I can’t tell her that I was trying to drown the other me
I was surprised the water didn’t boil when I went under
I was so mad at you.
She hands me a tissue, says in her quiet voice,
sometimes holding on to something light
helps me talk about what I’ve already let go.
the water didn’t boil,
it froze over until I was trapped
underneath, slamming my fists into the ice.
There is a symbol in the International Phonetic Alphabet to indicate the absence of sound. It is the break, the pause that is born in the throat and the mouth, such as in uh-oh. This hesitation of the tongue, the freezing of movement, the void of breath—this silence has a symbol assigned to it. Of course nobody knows what it sounds like, but it is enough that it’s there. It looks like this: ʔ It almost looks like a hook that rips all sound from the person, rendering them silent. It resembles a question mark, as if to say, is this right? Are we right? Are we what was intended? Should we be speaking at all? Isn’t it against our nature to speak? Humans are funny. We invent symbols for nothing (ʔ) and for everything (∞). We have to stick our hands in every bit of the conceivable universe. We have to know everything.
The hyoid, the bone in the throat that supports the larynx and vocal cords, is not held to our skeleton by any other bones. It’s floating in a sea of muscles and tissues and tendons, alone in the throat. Just as we are alone in the world. Intelligence is sad, isn’t it? There is a bone in the face that resembles a butterfly. There is another bone in the face that looks like a ship. I suspect we are meant to get away.
One of the most highly desired moments in life is that point in a relationship when the opposite person is not yet a part of your life, but you already know they will be. It’s like a piece of your future has presented itself to you, a treasure stumbling into your life. And in those moments spent with that person, time is like a tangible thing, fluttering around just out of grasp and the best part about it is, it feels infinite. Because you know they’re in your future, you’ve nothing to worry about now.
Drop, shiver, and time to start over
Go through the motions, spin the globe
No use pretending you don’t dream, you know.
I know you think about running,
walking, driving. Going.
At night, I dream in color.
I dream clouds are blue and the sky is white,
does it really matter?
Flip through fashion magazines,
wish to be a fish with puffed up hair,
a mermaid, an empress, a sorcerer.
Tic, tac, toe.
Pouty lips, puckered nipples,
you’re still you after everything.
Too many curves in the wrong places,
I wanted to be the kind of person who could make the ground burn, unnoticed and uncaring. I wanted to be strong, silent, beautiful, thin. Elegant. Bright, round eyes and thick lips, mocha skin, bone straight and dark hair. I wanted to be cruel and beautiful, as Sandra would say. Later on in life, I would buy lipstick and a straightening iron to try to squeeze myself into a body that wasn’t mine. It’s funny how we look for happiness in the most ridiculous places. We attempt to fill the void with items that don’t fit, like a child stuffing a square block through a triangular hole. We obsess over those girls who look the way we want to as if by sheer force of staring and wishing we could clone ourselves into them. I have news for you: you will always be you. I am an overweight white girl with curly brown hair, thin lips, and glasses. Just because I am ugly doesn’t mean I don’t understand beauty. Perhaps that’s what made me into a writer—the desire to create beauty. Don’t misunderstand me, I am no artist. I am a writer. I take the world into me and send it back out in a way that makes others able to understand it. I’m standing on an island, I’m calling all the water to me. I’m a wizard, a dragon, a princess. I have feathers, talons, scales. I’m anything I want to be and everything I don’t. I’ve tried to change myself. I’ve followed the trends. I’ve counted up change but I’m still coming up short. I don’t expect anyone to understand me, I hardly understand me. I’m thinking of buildings, of coming home. I’m thinking of the smell of my mother’s cooking, the curl of her long, dark hair, the way she reaches up in the cupboard for some spice. I love you, is that enough? I feel like it’s all I have to give.