2. When the men in the car speeding down the road hurl fowl profanities at you, remember that this is not a show but your life and you are not an attraction for their eyes to feast upon.
3. Darling, a few years from now when your daughter comes home with warm tears running down her cheeks please remember that her shelter has not yet been built and she will allow you to enter for now - appreciate this, use this wisely. Do not allow her to go to bed with self-hatred in her veins and self-blame in her heart. Pay no mind to her attire, draw her attention away. Teach her that her outfit is not her consent. Teach her that her voice matters. Teach her to roar. Your words will echo in her mind and years from then her daughter will hear the same echo. You are a part of a movement. You are creating an army of powerful women. Darling, put on your war paint.
4. Baby, you are not a delicate flower, you are a lioness who’s beauty is in her self-belief, in her self-worth and in your ability to survive in a world where the odds are against you.
5. You are the sun’s burning rays.
6. You are the moon’s gentle glow.
7. Put on your war paint.
is a living room wall
with awkwardly placed photographs
hiding fist-sized holes.
If my heart really broke every time I fell from love
I’d be able to offer you confetti by now.
But hearts don’t break. They bruise and get better.
You call 911 and tell them I’m having a fantastic time.
i. he says, “you’re perfect,
you’re perfect,” and i feel the word
crawl into my diaphragm and collapse
like a dying star against my rib bones. it
burns like cigarette smoke when i try
to inhale, crowding my lungs.
ii. my mother used to play a game with me:
if i was crying, she would give me a glass
of water and tell me to be fine at the bottom of
it. she said, “bet you can’t get rid of the sad
by the time you’re done with that.”
i have become a professional in putting
my emotions into clear boxes. my palms
blister from shoving them into the back corners
of my brain. they always find a way out again.
iii. i brushed my teeth sixteen times today and for
each one i told myself “this time it will wash the
taste of sorrow out” but my throat still sings
of coagulated blood and the nights when i wanted
to take my fingernails and drive them under
my flesh until i was nothing but a skeleton.
iv. when he is out of the room, i sit on my hands
and stare at his phone. i wait for the text messages
from some other girl. this whole thing has to be
some kind of sick joke. nobody wants to be
with a person like me.
v. i say i am like broken glass, i say that chewing
on me leaves nothing but aching teeth and
split tongues. i say that i am a crossroads and an
incoming vehicle, an accident waiting to happen,
a blizzard disguised as a rainstorm, i say “don’t let
me fool you into thinking i am beautiful.”
vi. when he sees the places i have ripped blood from
myself as if it was weeds, his hands shake as they
lay like bible pages on top of my skin. he says
“how did i let this happen.”
vii. it is not beautiful to be like this. it feels like
you have swallowed space and all of its mass
and now all you are is a great vast emptiness. you cannot
let people near you without worrying either that
you will scare them off or you will become their
viii. it took me nineteen years to shake off what my father
told me and learn that even if i love a man
it wasn’t going to make me whole or happy. i could
not find my own fire when i was looking into someone’s eyes.
when i fall for him, it is only because i am finally ready.
ix. he does not cure me because he is a person
and not chemicals but when he kisses me it
does make me happy. he holds out his hand every
time i fall to the ground. he knows i am a burning
ship and says “you still feel perfect.”
x. our bodies fit together like music stanzas or
how the sun holds hands with the horizon
and i might still wake up sad but his chest cavity
feels more like home than any building will ever be
and he holds me while i fall asleep and murmurs
into my hair “see, this is what i mean.”