my mother’s daughter

every time your words pierce my fragile mind, i find myself six years old again. staring at my thighs and wondering why they can’t look like yours
why i can’t be what you want

you have a funny way of pushing me away, then dragging me back into your twisted games, your crooked lies. i never wanted to see that the most lethal danger to my peace has been you

but yet again, i am taken back to when i am nine years old
and you don’t allow me an ice cream cone
not really a big deal, except i watch my friends eat guiltlessly as i sit staring at my thighs wishing i could burn them away

and now i think to myself, it’s always been the same with you.

because now i am thirteen years old and i step on that ruthless black pit every morning like clockwork
the digits burn into my mind, as i cry because another tenth of a pound is going to make me lose you

but i never had you, did i? i was always asking for things you couldn’t give
how selfish of me
unconditional love is too much to ask

and now, six years later and i find myself hunched over in the bathroom, doors locked, eyes watery, red scratches on my thighs
my finger has found a home in my throat and i think about how i could never find a home in you, and never will.

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monsters under the bed

little potted plants
white duvets
crinkled sheets
and a bleeding heart

dim lights
stuffed giraffes
my favorite sweater
and tear stains

how terrifying it is to
be in a place so safe
but feel so
in danger

19

i am from pigtails and plaid skirts and penny loafers with a lucky penny slipped inside
i am from therapy sessions and pill bottles stacked up in the closet

i am from sleepovers and ice cream dates and striving for perfect scores
i am from wet pillowcases and puffy morning eyes

i am from long walks with good music and running to pound away my thoughts
i am from scales and calculating the caloric value of a grape

i am from family dinners with jeopardy as background noise
i am from grieving three losses and praying i wouldn’t be the next

i am from writing and target runs and sleeping til noon
i am from whispers and name calling and sweeping sorrows under the perfect expensive rug

i am from shopping and reality tv and historical debates
i am from covering up the damage i have done to myself with sleeves and a smile

i am from the light and the dark
i am from always waiting for the sun

dear life

There are no words in any language to describe the feeling I get in my chest, like something awful is happening even though I’m halfway through a laugh with my friends.

I hate the way my throat grows a lump big enough that I swear it could crush my entire body. Sometimes I wish it would, because God knows it’s already crushing my spirit.

I’ll never understand how I can stare at a wall and feel so empty, so hollow, yet feel everything all at once. Underwhelmed yet overwhelmed by life at the same time.

I don’t know how I can sit across from a person every week, protected by four comforting walls and a promise, divulging every nook and cranny of my mind, yet still feel like I am losing control.

I can’t comprehend why it brings me comfort to cause my body pain. How a sting can feel like relief. Like the hurt is flowing out of me, yet regret and disappointed rage in.

And so the cycle continues.

gravity

my whole life,you’ve wanted me smaller

my ambition is too much
my thighs are too much
my brain is too much

you try and try to shrink me
but i refuse to get in your box

i can only imagine how much you hated that i made you heavy
weighed down
burdened

you carried me those nine months
but i’ll carry this demon a lifetime

             -i’m sorry, mom

worth it.

the heartbreak and pain
were not accidents
for they led me down a narrow trail
accompanied by old monsters
lonely and shattered,
i fought them off

there i was,
winding through the forest and crawling through the gravel
torn up

on an isolated and dangerous path
that led me right to you
and to myself

we live in a jungle.

it is the sly comments
the uninvited stares
the suggestive look
the desire-filled look
the i want you, i will have you, whether you like it or not look

every whistle
every step a little too close
leaves us trembling

do you see me?
your eyes gaze at me
but do you see me?

do your eyes see me as more than parts to be coveted and dreamt of?
do your ears hear me as more than a voice you’d like to silence with your lips?
does your mind comprehend that my shaking hands and racing heart cannot take another minute of your company?

because of you
my eyes see yours looking me up and down like a project to conquer
my ears hear a young girl catcalled in the streets
my mind cannot comprehend why it has to be this way
and my legs run towards the idea
that it doesn’t have to be
             —no more staying quiet

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