From where you’re standing,
let’s both pretend that
all you see is all there is:
my body is healthy,
well groomed, well fed,
never mind that there are
large, purple bruises on my soul.
Because nagging is a form of
and everyday I have my own brand
of struggling to survive.
I still remember the bad dreams
I had when she’d touch me.
I remember standing in front of
the school cafeteria, staring at
the door for half an hour,
having an internal shouting argument
with myself on whether I deserved lunch,
because she’d told me that morning
I was lazy and selfish and irresponsible
and girls like that didn’t deserve to eat.
I remember never being good enough.
I remember being laughed at
when I was seven and I asked her
if I was beautiful.
I remember getting my first
publishing deal and she told me
don’t be too happy, because
so many things can still go wrong.
I remember the nights I would
muffle my violent coughs with a pillow
so she could sleep in peace and not
find out I had pneumonia because
she said I was disrespecting her
every time I allowed myself to get sick.
I remember how she’d turn off the lights
and lecture me in the dark
every time I messed up
as if it disgusted her to see me cry
so I promised myself at one point
she had no right to see my tears
and I remember searching for a place
where I could be myself
and I remember learning how
to fix a schedule for my emotions.
I remember, more recently, showing her
the man I’ve decided to marry
and she asked me, am I that ugly
that I couldn’t find any other man
to love me.
Don’t look too close.
My body is OK, but my spirit
is having an awful day.