conditional

guilt suffocates me like cellophane
each layer clinging tightly to my body
one for each year of heartbreak

she says her love wraps around my being
what she doesn’t know is
it fights so hard to break through the barrier she has built
it pulses against me
unable to penetrate the 19 layers of pain she has provided

and through tears
she whispers,
“you know i love you, right?”

despite all her cruel words
she expects me to know this
to wholeheartedly embrace it

i can see it,
but i cannot feel it
for guilt and shame overwhelm my senses
and suddenly i am drowning in my memories
admitting to a love i do not feel

wrapped in this godforsaken cellophane,
a gift from my mother
i am bursting with emotion, yet empty

wrapped so tightly
desperate for love
i walk around suffocating
desperate to feel
something she cannot provide

         —i know you did your best, mom

my person

when you cry, i can feel your tears streaming down my own face
and when someone stabs you in the back,
i find myself bleeding, too

i’ll never forget the way you took all my sorrows and burdened your own heart with them

and now, it’s my turn to take the weight

after all, what don’t we share?

so here’s to our indulgent lunch dates, repeated so many times that the wait staff know our order by heart
to the way you rushed to my side with my favorite milkshake when i had my heart broken
to our reality tv-filled monday nights coupled with laughs and pistachio soft serve
to sharing everything from our favorite bubble tea to a therapist

here’s to flamingo-searching and bargain-hunting every time we shop, and laughing the whole way home
to family dinners and nights in the town we call our second home, ending with screams of our favorite songs down the highway
to all the times we answer each other’s urgent texts at 2am, choosing each other over a good night’s rest

and most importantly,
here’s to you
the biggest blessing in my life
and the reason i kept living
i will never forget you

—the best friend that became family

recovery

i use to swing along the line of life and death in my mind
teetering with reasons to stay and reasons to go

how could i ever think such thoughts when there are sunsets that make even the most pessimistic of people stop to gaze,
with hues of orange and pink and lilac
covering the horizon in swirls and gradients so beautiful that only the naked eye can capture its true essence

how could i ever think such thoughts when there are sunday mornings filled with pancakes and my father in a small café
hearing the clinking of coffee mugs and the strange yet familiar laughter of strangers

how could i ever think such thoughts when there are beaches with velvety sand and a symphony made up of gawking birds and the sound of the ocean kissing the shore,
filled with naps in the scorching sun and the reading of new novels that have been left in my bookcase for months

how could i ever think such thoughts when there are soft kisses and passionate kisses laced together with sweet smiles and the whisper of “i love you”, leaving even the most grounded of people up in the clouds

the sad thing is,
i know exactly how i could think such thoughts
because they once took up all of the vacancies in my mind
they are unwelcome visitors that still bang on my door from time to time

to the broken:
i hear you,
i see you
i will hold your hand until you see light again, just as people have done for me
and i will walk with you until the heaviness turns to feathers of hope