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It’s one of the more lasting injuries
I’ve inflicted on myself,
embracing the stigma as if
it were the stuff of dead stars
I was gloriously made of

that I was in danger
and I wore it like emeralds
that other girls ought to envy

for am I not all
the lies I’ve told,
the lives I wished to live
and created in my head
that I couldn’t
(on purpose didn’t)
keep from bleeding into the life
I so badly wished to flee

and how I rendered
the scenes so cinematic
they believed it for a while
(everyone always believes it
for a while)

am I not the sum of all
the pretty masks I wore,
and nothing more?

am I not nothing under
the layers I chose for myself
on the times I wasn’t satisfied
with this dust-colored shell
I was assigned by the lottery
of life, wasn’t it my frail peace
on the line every time
it crashed and burned,
inevitable stroke of midnight
oh dark, pathological Cinderella
the truth ringing like
smothered gunshots and
exploding the masquerade with
the stench of burning rubber

all the social casualties,
all the friends I lost?

isn’t that what made me beautiful,
ultimately, the demons that
lurked at the back of my throat
and built nests in my hair
with their smooth hands
and many complex lenses
they let me borrow so I could
see what what nobody else saw?

am I not stronger for every
battlefield silence I fought them in,
the voices only I could hear?

am I not purer for all the tears
I cried when the night would
sleepwalk and twist all
my words into barb wire?

isn’t that my core,
my bare bedrock soul,
these cursed synapses that
made me predisposed to ruin,
won’t my memoirs be
the list of people who
stayed in spite of it all?

isn’t this burden mine, all mine
and if you release me from it,
what do I have left?

If I am sick,
who am I supposed to be
after you cure me?
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Image by photographer Tina Kazakhishvili Canaud

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