41

Everything I am
and everything I will become
is already within me.
All the tools I’ll need to cultivate internal growth
are hip-holstered, at my disposal.

I find comfort in that
there is nothing new that will become of me
but the fate that was decided
the day I was born.

Like an abandoned backyard set,
I thanked everyone who entered my life
for all they taught me
as I looked at that empty swing
nostalgic and grateful
for the way they’d leave.

“Everyone you meet has a story to tell you,”
forces us to take those coming and going
as gifts
of shaping us;
that they can’t resist leaving because
that’s what they were meant to do.

The lesson of leaving is not in the longing
clinging to the memory of a back, receding.
The lesson is in dusting off your jeans
and reaching to your hip
to find out what to do next.

 

Thanks to skycielo for the prompt “empty swing set”! If I use a prompt you’ve left for me, I’ll give you a shoutout!

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37

Keep the candle alight
so you can see me
even with less.

Crescent moon:
those going through the hardest times
often seem the softest.
Check on the strong friends
because they’ve learned to glow at night
even with only a quarter of themselves.

If you often find solace
against someone else’s shoulder,
always be sure to leave the floor to them
when your tears are dry.

I’ve felt the helplessness
of losing a friend
who couldn’t tell his story
loud enough so I could hear.
Did we fail each other?

There comes a point where it’s up to us
to open our ears
pour some tea
and listen to the strong ones;
their stories of sadness are just as sad
as the ones they gave advice on
when the words came out of your mouth.

 

Thank you to skycielo for giving me the prompt ‘crescent moon’ and AP Christopher for giving me the word ‘solace’! If I use a prompt you’ve left for me, I’ll give you a shoutout if I use it!

35

Sometimes, loving someone
is about leaving them the way they are.
Not everyone belongs on your to-do list,
not everyone is fit to be fixed.

While we may believe that
we’re meant to leave people
better than we found them,
sometimes, we’re just meant to leave.

If I tried to censor every mouth I met that ever
uttered a nasty word,
I’d be a moth
racing towards every light, enticing,
trying
to kill me.

There is no shame giving up
on someone you just couldn’t save
if it means you save yourself from it, too.
There is courage in continuing to keep the door propped open
even after the bad ones got in.
But there isn’t in sewing yourself up
even when you knew it’d
hurt this much after.

Not everyone can be saved from themselves;
it is not your responsibility to save each one.
Sometimes, loving yourself
is about hearing footsteps enter your home
that already sound like someone leaving
and not take this as a challenge, but knowing it’s
just someone on their way out.

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.

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.

18

A story I’m ashamed to tell:
of red dots under eyes
popped blood vessels
counting the minutes left
after delicious dinnertime
to keep myself in check
to a schedule I created.

The unabridged tale
of satisfying my hunger with another’s envy
“Whatever you’re doing, keep at it!”
“You’re looking better everyday!”
“You’re so small!”
so so so so small

The strive to be size zero
my superficial goal to be
the bottom of a spectrum
to be loved, not revered
not an economist or a journalist,
just skinny.

On display: my greatest play
if the numbers on my plate aligned just right
it would create constellations of compliments
and everyone would finally
love me.

Every morning, I wished to lose more
even if it meant
the weight of my mind.

The Sparknotes of a novel I wrote
where flattery was food
and everyone wanted to know my diet secret
but no one cared to read cover to cover,
only the summary I fabricated
so I could fit into the clothes I thought
they wanted me to.

17

The overwhelming ache in your stomach
of missing a memory in real time:
summer camp planetarium
status: away from keyboard
phone left at home
sorry, no wifi
looking for: validation
arising from stoking my own flame

August night, northern town
guided telescope
they told us using red flashlights
keeps our night vision unhindered
and boy, could I ever see

Salt shaker, spilled
stars, meteor shower
car splashes pothole
stars like mud splatter on my jeans
and I’ve become the canvas.

An archive of my life spent
trying to get sons
to like me
that starry summer, I prayed
those dead suns were proud of me, instead

Boys used to tell me I gave them a hard time, boasting,
“I’ve never met a flame I didn’t like,”
but they didn’t know I was fire
or maybe I was that red flashlight
doing exactly what was needed,
on my own terms.