Nobody loves me when I’m down. And can only see the swarm of darkness closing in on me. My eyes must look so small and bloodshot—fighting to see through bright flashes of light: alarms that never snoozed, constant and jarring.
Nobody recognizes me when I’m breaking. Code, character, promise, or self. My hands must turn into gnarled claws. These that used to build and tickle. Mine that were soft at some point. Now beaten and bloodied, fights that never ceased.
Nobody wants me when I’m dying. And poisoning everything around me. Excuses do not ever mend. Tears in the fabric or rips in the heart. My skin is greening from sickness and internal turmoil. My feet are numbing at the toes and my poor heart is struggling to fill my veins. Sluggish and heavy, aches that never soothed.
I’ve been thinking a lot about time and the passage of it. I can’t believe 2010 was 8 years ago. That so much has happened and changed, and that I can sometimes still feel stuck. Even with all that’s different about me and mine today, I feel unmoved and perhaps like my old self in a new body. I feel tinges of regret and guilt about choices I made and ones I had absolutely no say in. Feelings that would not have occurred to me even two years ago, when things were different but not so vastly as five years ago.
I was a hundred and fifty-six pounds When I met you Could cross the span of an ocean In one, two steps Filling up the space of myself With all the things I knew My preference for backwoods And ice-cold Minute Maid Prone to spilling myself into open arms And rebuilding my muscles So I could cradle my loved ones
I used dashes (—) to mark line breaks when quoting Ntozake Shange’s poem, so as not to be confused with her artistic use of slash marks.
The most useful piece of information I took from my intro to women’s and gender studies course was the reality that my lived experiences with harassment and gender-based violence are in no way happenstance. Nor are they the result of my choices in company, attire, whereabouts, or recreation. I am a single body inside a reality that has warped and misshaped itself into a place where “every3 minutes a woman is beaten— every five minutes a— woman is raped/every ten minutes— a lil girl is molested.”
What is so comfortable about the middle That so many choose to sit there While the rest of the world dies on the margins Starving on either side of a fence And fluttering white flags That would tear under the weight Of all the blood strewn across the east and west Of the middle
To teach tolerance Requires a level of tolerance I simply do not possess And compassion for the ignorant Who deem themselves not so violent Because they only pay the company that makes the guns And guns don’t kill people/ People—men with pent up emotions from childhood Women who believe themselves exempt Cowards hiding from the truth of themselves— Kill people