What the Birds Said
It’s not love if he can’t make you cry.
Forgive me, I am foolish, I am still learning.
Forgive me, there is still a child inside of me.
I am no longer afraid of the dark.
I am afraid of the light.
Swapping poetry does not mean we are in love.
Wake up, wake up. The sun is rising.
Fire, thunder, water, ice.
On a map, an inch is a mile.
Your teeth are stuck inside of your skull.
I like your hands when they are hurting me.
I like your eyes when they are not looking at me.
Don’t you ever get tired of giving giving giving?
Sometimes I play a game, where I lay perfectly still, eyes open, holding my breath, pretending I am dead. But my heart keeps beating and I eventually gasp.
My mom used to tell this story about how you have to poke a hole in the sky to let the light fall in.
My dad opens beer bottles on the patio, wondering.
Maybe it’s better to be struggling than dead.
I don’t know, maybe it’s not.
Maybe I am a worm waiting for talons.
Maybe I am hiding in the ground.
Nobody told me how goddamn tired I would get,
with the afternoons dripping, melting into evenings
into nights, nights without sleep or music.
Nights like glossy blackberries in my brother’s palm.
I’m sick of looking at diagrams of bones
and rearranging the flowers in my mother’s room
so they can sing her the right song,
the one to get her out of bed.
My mother’s sadness is a mirror that I am always looking into.
My mother’s sadness is a tangerine that I peel on the front porch.
The doctors ask her, “where does it hurt?”
and she looks at them through eyes like plums:
She drops her coat onto the floor.
I am tired, only tired,
shuffles to her bed
where underneath the sheets,
there is something small and beating
and I don’t have the courage to dig it up,
to bury it in the backyard,
to carve a headstone,
to say a prayer.
‘where does the living go when it stops?’
and I have found it.
by Amanda La Valley
I am always sad, I think. Perhaps this signifies that I am not sad at all, because sadness is something lower than your normal disposition, and I am always the same thing. Perhaps I am the only person in the world, then, who never becomes sad. Perhaps I am lucky.
I don’t understand how I’m incredibly sad even though I don’t care about anything.
It is said that the Messiah will come at the end of the world."
“But it was not the end of the world,” Grandfather said.
“It was. He just did not come.”
“Why did he not come?”
“This was the lesson we learned from everything that happened—there is no God. It took all of the hidden faces for Him to prove this to us.”
“What if it was a challenge of your faith?” I said
“I could not believe in a God that would challenge faith like this.”
“What if it was not in his power?”
“I could not believe in a God that could not stop what happened.”
“What if it was man and not God that did all of this?”
“I do not believe in man, either.
My parents’ sadness is a mirror that I am always looking into. It is a rain that I am trapped outside in. It is a rain inside. I can’t get away from it. My family’s sadness is a reflection of me leaning over the surface of a lake, my enlarged nose on the back of a cereal spoon, the darkened shapes of the room reflected back in a TV that is shut off.
I have learned a language that doesn’t get spoken. “I am just tired” means “I am sad,” or “leave me alone,” or “don’t talk about it.” “Please” means “do this for me because I am your family and I have asked you.” “No” means “because I said so.” We say each other’s names only when it is necessary. It is like an exclamation mark in a book, a balloon popping in a silent room, a bomb exploding in a city square. “Amanda” means “pay attention” or “what I have said or will say is important.” Occasionally “Amanda” means “please.”
It used to be that we weren’t sad. Or perhaps everything seems happy to a child. I was a happy child, I can say. Everything has a feeling. Mud, a bug cleaning it’s legs on a leaf, sprinklers at night, icicles. Everything moved me. Everything still moves me, but I suppose it moves me towards sadness instead of just an undefined emotion. Instead of feeling something, something feels like sadness.
Kayla wants to be skinny. Dad wants mom to love him. Mom will never be happy. I used to blame her for that. I used to wish for a mom who was normal. If I’m being honest with myself, I still do most of the time. It’s not fair of me, I know, but I still want a mom who is like other moms. A mom who is happy all the time. Witness the following conversation:
“Mom? Do you want to get out of bed?”
“I know you’re awake.”
On Account of My Learning to Love You From a Distance
What if we could dye the sky a color everyday so we would both know how the other was feeling? Like if I woke up one snowy Saturday and the clouds were yellow and I could know that you were happy without me. Or if you happened to glance out of the window while you were cooking dinner and saw the sky was green and you could know that I was sick to my stomach from missing you so much.
What if I watched a lot of bad science fiction films and turned into a crazy rocket scientist and invented the teleportation device so we could see each other whenever the thought popped into my mind? What if I could invent a brain that was a teleportation device so I could think about you and we’d be together? I have to tell you, we’d probably never be able to be apart.
What about skin? What if I could come up with a life-size doll that looked like you and was covered in synthetic skin that was an exact replica of the texture and color of yours, down to the last freckle and microscopic valley? What if the skin doll was controlled by my thoughts so that if I wished you were rubbing my back so that I could fall asleep and not feel so alone, it would automatically move? Too creepy?
What if I was able to light the neurons that remember you on fire inside my brain, burn the memory of you out of my system so that I could forget about you, like Joel does in Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind? Do you think we’d find each other again? Do you think we would want to?
What if I built a machine that sucked all the sadness out of people, like the way liposuction surgery sucks the fat out? We could make soap out of the leftovers, like they do in Fight Club, except when you washed your hands they’d turn blue and I could know that you were sad about me the way I am sad about you.