29

Pair of keys,
I am left in the mailbox
just in case you forget yours.
Always last picked,
choosy team captains.

Once, in a dream,
I piloted my own ship
stern and bow,
then and now?
Plenty of difference.

If only my voice was louder
than the waves surrounding me,
my siren’s song, crystal clear
reeling in my catch.

I’ve forgiven a lot of awful things
just because I still loved
the mouth that said them.

If only I knew then
that apprehensive kindness
is not kindness.

If only my voice was louder
I’d say more than just what
they wanted to hear,
(maybe I’d be on my own team).
For now, I’m just a
parakeet.

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28

On the correlation between
gaining weight and losing value:
like knowing to throw salt behind your back for good luck,
throw that notion away with the same reverence of belief
that no one really believes that either.

There is no glory in eagerness to be extra small
there is no shame in size medium.
Your wardrobe should not be a museum
of all the smaller versions of you
that you can’t wear anymore.

This toxic idealism;
a carrot, dangling;
if I continue to remind these clothes hangers of the old me,
maybe I’ll fit back in, someday.

Like a butterfly, yearning
to crawl back into cocoon
you are neglecting progress.
You have shown yourself compassion
by not ascribing your worth to your weight.

Your beautiful three-pound brain
is far from average
and if it expands with knowledge,
empathy, humanity and dignity,
and if others weigh in on your gain
and if you are alive and healthy,
quite frankly,
tell them to go fuck themselves.

27

My whole life I’ve heard:
“travel the world
fill the passport pages
and at the last sheet,
you find yourself.”

How clean, picturesque a concept
you forget about the way there.
I’ve left my home behind in search of the greater me
and I’ve also not arrived at the destination.
The fear of adventure lies
in the in-between of on-the-way

The eerie silence of a hostel
filled with travelling strangers
staring at the ceiling, willing it to open up
and for the stars to align your way.

That deep sense of regret,
of thinking you’ve made
the world’s worst choice by leaving home
and the blessings of everyone you’ve loved
your comfy nook of this universe
their good will an ocean away.

The flight isn’t the scariest part
but the landing.
Buying a ticket to destination is easy
finding somewhere to
set your heavy luggage down
somewhere soft,
and making it a home is the battlefield.

 

Thank you all so much for your support in voting for my scholarship essay! We reached 4100 votes by closing day, and I couldn’t have done it without everyone in this community. The recipients are announced on April 30, but I’ve already won, knowing how supportive my followers have been to me in this academic endeavour.

I can’t thank you all enough for your sweet kindness towards me. I appreciate you all endlessly. Happy Sunday.

Love,

Elle

26

Being me is not enough
for someone like you.
If all my affection piled up like
an avoided accordion file,
you’d say I was too much
with no folder big enough
to carry the burden of
such an expansive heart.

I called you once, in a huff
ready to say everything I had pent up–
that you were selfish and cruel,
how dare you try to shove my wild love aside
because it was more than what you wanted.

If my worst trait was being “too much,”
then maybe it was your worst trait, too
that you couldn’t carry it.

I’ve read universes of books to know
someone telling you they didn’t hurt you
has no business in telling you so.

I’d yell and yell and yell
and you’d say “are you done?”
like waiting for the beep
you’d leave your message
while I sat on the line, listening
to everything you weren’t willing to hear
but it’s different, coming from you

All you’d say was “my, me, I,”
and all I’d hear was the dial tone.

25

Like a button labelled “do not press”
you’ve never listened to your mother’s instructions.
“Be nice to girls,”
“Don’t touch someone else’s things,”
barging through my door, you
scolded my table manners

“You’re so irresistible, how
could I have stayed away from you?”
Like misinformed flattery,
like a free sample,
you just had to try.

Like your fear of missing out was greater than
any pain I’d feel after you realized I wasn’t your cup of tea
spat out, my fault I was too hot
on the tip of your tongue.

My mistake
for being too hard to swallow,
if only I was more complacent
I could’ve been like honey,
smooth silk down your esophagus.

Too bad my father raised me to drink my tea black
so I’d learn what quality tasted like in my own mouth.
And while you continue to disobey your mother’s axioms,
I wonder when you’ll realize she’s
the only woman who will ever love you.

24

All my love had always been held
in callused touch.
I was used to unreturned calls;
unopened text messages;
laughing at jokes that weren’t funny;
pretending not to be hurt when
he said he wanted casual,
as if me taking us seriously
was a silly miscalculation.

I’d stay awake nights
the bags under my eyes
heavy with tears
like lost luggage,
a carousel spinning away.

Every pair of hands upset me to the point I thought
I had made a grand mistake,
thinking there was not a single soft pair of hands
in the world meant for me.

I had been so used to being shut out
that your warmth and tenderness terrified me.

But you didn’t leave–you said,
“Where else would I rather be,
than here, with you,
as you have so graciously made room for me?”

23

It’s easy to romanticize the past,
that we once had it so easy
because damn,
it sure hurt a hell of a lot
at the time.

At the core of me is a
jaw breaker centre
filled with ghosts of all the people I could’ve been
all the tears I shed, in defence
and how they turned me to cement

All I wanted to say, realized
only after I’ve walked away.
Like trying to subdue a snowstorm,
I should have been Miss Behaviour
and turned back around.

I always thought we experienced pain now
because our future selves deserve more;
they’re worth more than this ache
and frankly,
they have more important things to tend to
than themselves.

We hurt now because pain hurts less (later on)
when we’ve already
quietly forgotten what we cried about.

But as it turns out,
it has been quite the effort
to keep afloat.
The promise of “later”,
a doll, dulled
waiting in the cold so long,
waiting for the water to run warm
that once I dipped my toes in,
the drastic change burned me, even so.