He told me to flip my lenses
on my heart
until everything was 20/20
so he could read every letter,
secret, flaw, complexity
to see if I was pleasing enough
to his eye.
But I am not clear.
I have fractures in my glass.
You can’t see through cracks
or erase the vision loss they create.
I have stained color between my breaks—
I have made myself
amongst my wreckage.
He’d rub Windex on my skin
until I was translucent—
I am not simple,
or easily opened and examined
I am bright white stars in darkness;
the longer looked at, the more adjusted,
the more seen—
but I am an expanding universe
filled with outer space,
dark matter, energy
that I won’t light up
because it is mine.
Seeing is believing—
but you’re missing me
only believing what you can see:
I am so far out of your visible spectrum.
and feel the dust fall.
I check the mirror
six times an hour
forgetting what I look like.
No one has ever tried to sculpt me
into something far less beautiful
without my silence.
I am always the effect,
never the cause.
I let myself believe
I was a victim to circumstance
I create my own context.
We think who we wake as
is who we are
but consciousness is not meant
I have hours of mobility
to move myself.
I will be an alchemist;
I can change my skin to gold.
I am oxygen, carbon, hydrogen,
nitrogen, calcium, phosphorus,
tin, titanium, nickel,
arsenic, lithium, radium.
I am sequin-palmed;
freckled like sparkles on pearled powdered skin,
I am starlight.
I am no Ghandi
I will fight
my causeless passivity.
I will kick and punch at wishes
made on my fall.
I will not be the reflection I see.
I will paint my own portrait.
All the feelings I had inside
raised to the surface of my skin as purple bruises
and when they faded completely—so did you.
That’s a lie—
I touched burst capillaries for hours
circling fingertips around smaller circumferences
I knew the blue and black wasn’t healing:
but rotting on my skin
slowly sucking back in decay.
I took a hit to the teeth
you knocked out my voice
and it lies where my knees lied.
I liked that voice.
It had never been to the seashore
but sounded like shells jangling in a Mason Glass.
I’d press my lips to your ear—
you’d swear you heard the ocean.
I didn’t hear you cry,
I searched the floor to pick them up
(as I imagined I’d do at the beach
one day with you).
Tides had already taken some
and pushed in new ones.
I left the shells
and I left you calling my name
and I left “sorry, sorry, sorry”
and I left my white sweatshirt.
I liked that sweatshirt.
A Certain Kind of Emptiness
Your lies were hellos
(cellophane and see-through wrapped
around last night’s Hunan Wok takeout)
and I’d match your greeting
just to clutter your head).
I never understood
why we pretended to believe.
It takes a certain kind of emptiness
to steal a sleepless sleeper’s phone
and search messages in the bathroom.
It takes a certain kind of emptiness
to watch a thief go freely
and kiss him when he comes back.
I was pretty eyed when I’d cry—
soft in all the right places;
I’d hold you up to what you thought
was my heart.
You were mystery, nose-ringed and tattooed—
dizzying, dark, and a kiss on my ear;
you’d hold me up to what I thought
was your heart.
But in all this silence
we heard no beating—
(didn’t remember a sound
was supposed to come from
the chests we rested on).
We won’t see sour nothings
spoken from lovely lips.
We won’t look past the skin
across the ribcage—
the ugliness behind the eyelashes;
if one falls out
we’ll blow a wish.
Eyes Too Big
Allie Caufield wrote poetry on his glove
in green ink,
and I think I, too, stand outside the diamond
(caught in too many ideas of beautiful
to catch the moon if it fell into left field).
I used to hang my feet over the dock
and wait with line and lure,
but the euphoria of the catch
flurried out when I’d see hook through mouth
and I’d set it free without thinking what freedom meant
with two holes letting water fill the thoracic cavity.
I run ahead of the ball, body turned slightly,
eyes squinted, arms toward then sun
everyone thinking I’ve got it—
then I shut my eyes and let it fall.
(Something about the eyes being bigger than the stomach—
but mine are bigger than my heart).