Go Your Own Way

When I look back, the past seems soft.

I remember being seventeen and writing letters that were more like poetry. Smoking cigarettes. I remember the window I dangled my summer-brown legs from, and how I thought of jumping. The black curtains. My black toenails. The black ink on my hands.

I remember the people I thought I loved because I wanted love more than I wanted to wait. The boys I kissed — their weak pink lips. Their clumsy hands. How they tried to act like men and made me laugh. The shades of their hair and the shafts of light that made them change. Awkward stubble, patchy and scratchy — sometimes their shaving nicks, scabbed over, dry.

I remember the shape of my hands, how I often thought of the shape of my grandmother’s peeling potatoes, and how I wondered what would become of me. I remember how my parts were sharp and that I hurt people without meaning to. That I needed space, and quiet, and something like death. A long warm sleep. How I took too-hot baths and tried to breathe under the water. How I pressed at bruises and picked at sutures and tried not to blink ambulance sirens in my eyes — I didn’t want anyone to think I was an emergency.

I wonder in a few years what all this will look like.

I’ve felt the changes time can bring.

Almost twenty-five and that girl is a strange creature to me. I shed her skin like a snake.

I try to imagine what my poems will sound like when I’m older. How I will think of the men I loved truly — how almost six years has turned them to strangers — how the caring got buried like a dead horse I finally stopped kicking. I think of red hair, and imagine loving him through a world with two shadows, pray he holds me whole and wholly.

I hope my hands keep getting kinder.

When I look back years from now, I hope my hands just keep getting kinder.

  1. This is so lovely. Beautifully written and a fabulous ending.

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