73

elle
like a stream of consciousness
in one frosted, december breath
wrapped in a bow
christmas lights, tangled

I’ve never used that name
except only as a writer, I
pen those four letters like poetry
I’m a writer, I say
I’m a whole person using half
my name to truly show
my real self

elle
like one fluid motion
no need to even pick up the pen
because who I am
inked in these lined papers
is as close to me as
I have ever been

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72

Chandelier expectations:
dozens of bodies have
entered and left my life
and each of them, I think
takes a piece of me
on the way out.

I find myself diagnosing
symptoms they didn’t know
I felt inclined to cure.

I carve out my martyrdom
I settle at the top of my high horse
and resent their apathy when
they don’t want my
unsolicited service.

Imagine my surprise as I see their rejection
piling up, single use cutlery
my good intentions
(yet maligned purpose)
end up being wasteful
and wasted.

71

Being your very best
is always going to be enough.
Home sweet home:
the ceiling of success
doesn’t knock on
your neighbour’s door
to compare Venetian blinds.

May this be the
anthem of your aspiration:
even if your 100% is someone else’s 75%
you’ve still given everything you had
your progress is still valid
and your worth is as never-ending as
scrolling to the bottom of
the highlight reels
of your friends and family.

So set your phone down
forgive yourself,
do your absolute best,
move onto bigger things,
and decide to always be more
than what a screen ascribes
you should be.

69

#HowHardDidAgingHitYou
I’m a child in that ‘before’ photo
coordinated outfits and
recess and
lunch money and
I was beautiful then, too.

How unfair it is
to yourself ten years ago, to
mock who you were
before you got here.

I didn’t need mascara or
twenty-two karat gold or
shellac nails or
expectations of beauty
when I was 14.

This isn’t fair to anyone
and especially to you;
punish and prize
in one photo collage
simply because time passed.

Aging doesn’t hit, it just happens.
I do not have the strength to
hit and criticize the old me
because, sometimes,
I wish I lived in ‘before’.

 

 

***
Truthfully, I did think about taking part in this viral challenge. It’s easy to jump on a bandwagon and take part in this immediate validation of how you perceive your worth today vs ten years ago.

For me, I knew that it wasn’t fair to me and what I’ve gone through since 2009. You would’ve seen a 14 year old child compared to a 24 year old adult. You wouldn’t have seen all the things that shaped me, not the summer bonfire memories, or late nights on the phone with friends, or winning awards and getting in the yearbook, or suffering through bulimia and self-loathing, or moving to the big city, or professional leaps in my career. The surface level difference would have done me a disservice. The last ten years of my life were worth more than two photos side-by-side.

What do you think of the Ten Year Challenge? I’m not judging if you did or didn’t do it, and I’d love to hear your perspectives in the comments below.

Love,
ELLE

68

I’ve been in pursuit of success
so much that I wouldn’t recognize it
if it were handed to me.

Aspirations that grew into
expectations, malignant
and expanding beyond me
everyday.

I’ve always feared broke billions.
Debt free but benign,
nothing past due and yet
no memories to share.

For all the times I bought tickets
and figured out the details later,
let’s promise to make time for
the things that make us rich
even if they don’t
make us money.

67

Find discomfort in the hem
of your occasion dress
zips on the side–
boys left behind
gawking at the sheer sight
of your lacy best.

Have you ever entered
a room filled,
familiar-faced
but not acquainted enough to
strike the ice?

All dressed up, nowhere to go
you arrive and yet
feel uninvited before
opening your lipstick mouth.

Surface-level small-talk: to
ask questions of others, to
keep conversation alive
I wonder if they sense my
mild polite engagement
as attention nonetheless.

My discomposure
a child nagging at my leg
pulling the sewn thread
and unravelling until I look
as naked as I feel.