Beauty is a fascinating commodity, a source of power, a weird underminer of the soul, and strangely draining -Stacey Richter
I just really like you. You say it like it’s been trapped inside for months now. And I think it has been because it’s been trapped inside me too. The urgency to tell you swells like my sister’s lip swelled when I clocked her in the face at age 5. It was the time she tried to scare me by playing dead man’s float in the blow-up pool my father erected in the back yard. She sprung up so abruptly, roaring in my face just before her little 9-year old teeth smacked my little 5-year old forehead. Her mouth was puffy and bloody and she needed stitches just the same way I need them now. I think about calling you. I think about telling you how much I care, and saying how thankful I am that I didn’t run like hell when this started, although I tried to. I want to thank you for knowing I should stay. I hear the words forming in my brain and I feel my heart banging on my ribs. I want to sew up the spaces of my ribcage. I want to glue them solid before any feelings leak from my heart. I’m terrified. What if you like me this way, and not that? What if my feelings run away with my sanity? And what if they finally collide with your head? Your head might say no, and tell your heart to dismiss me. Then I’ll swell, and bleed, and stitch myself up hideously like the next unloved Frankenstein. So instead I’ll curl myself into my skin. I’ll hide deep under my burning red face and clench my eyelids closed until my head shakes this off. Inside I’ll hear the whirring like airplane motors. I’ll feel my hot eyes build tears, and then drop them. I’ll feel my jaw clench shut mercilessly, as to not let my words leak out. Because what I really want to say is that I really like you too, but I’m scared.
When he looked at me he was studying. I never knew if he was studying my face, my hair, my clothes, my teeth. Maybe he was studying my chapped lips, my uneven skin, or that place on my part where my hair thins. He looked like he was learning something. Perhaps he was learning what love looks like, perhaps he was learning to settle. I think he was looking for something perfect on a tired, imperfect model. He looked at me unsurely, sometimes from the left side and sometimes from the right. Sometimes he squinted like the man who takes my ID and wonders if the blonde in front of him has the same big nose as the brunette in my picture. She does, and with much scrutiny he hands my ID back every time and waves me onward. And with much scrutiny, I skated by for months enduring off-color comments. Because your teeth look fake, and they are fake. Because your hair looks yellow when you go to the wrong salon. Because you should have bought the Guess shirt and Forever 21’s version will just lose a button tomorrow. Because he wished that this cookie had walnuts, but you made the cookies without.
“Yuvi Zalkow brilliantly navigates the territory between your head and your heart, and down to your privates.” -Lidia Yuknavitch
My next book club read. Can’t wait!
To fit a square into a circle
Rounded edges buffed and blistered
Like hurt swollen hands on a hot summer day
Hurt swollen hands digging ditches out of pride-flavored clay.
Mellow-minded in light of mind games
Agony at play, but mind so morphed and melted away
It must be your birthday today.
A kiss on the cheek
Your bandages slapdash, but you’re okay.
Rounded edges heal quietly under those bandages’ frays.
But stuck are the strings
Pulling and peeling for worst-of-worst pain
But I thought it was your birthday today.
When a kiss on the cheek’s not enough
A square peg in a round hole beats a boisterous drum roll
It’s a hurt heart on a cold linoleum floor,
It’s a hurt heart pumping blood through scorched holes.
Stolen kisses stifled cigarette buts into broken bones
Blistered holes and open wounds bleed quietly as self-esteem erodes.
And then I realized it’s too depressing
Your Anti-Valentine’s Day Poem
What do we do when we love?
We cry long rolling sobs at night.
Under covers that once covered two.
Tattooing Revlon mascara on bristly cotton sheets.
We feel the bones of the ribcage spread
For full, fighting lungs.
We breath gusts of air in and jerk them out
Through throaty gulps and snotty saliva.
We look ugly.
We drink red wine to flush our pale faces
To stain our lips crimson
To scar the dullness and the grey of gone
To paint red on every happy and healthy hopeful within 100 miles.
We let bloody tones brush our world with hate
We let our bodies swell, and sweat, and shudder.
We watch happy couples soak up sweat, and swell,
And shudder at the butterflies in their bellies.
And we sulk.
But what’s the sweat and swell without starvation?
We scrape breadcrumbs together to bind empty butterflyless bellies
We keep love in the back of our brains, but it burns us.
We keep love in the back of our brains until it doesn’t.
And one day it won’t.
One day whiteness will wash out the crimson clothes
Ring out the threads of lives that soaked up sorrow
And strengthen us single.