I was always picking people who had no intention of picking me back, and that’s what we had in common.
A long poem from a moment where I felt particularly small.
Praise is an easy veil for danger to hide behind.
The reason isn’t always clear when something doesn’t work out. When my affection pointed sharply in one person’s direction, and although I could feel them my way, it never came to be. My brain rattled with reasons and theories tethered by loose thread. What I’ve learned is that we might not know why things don’t work out until we’re with someone who resolves that question. More often, I’ll wonder why things never materialized with person x. The 1am texting marathons and time together and those lingering looks incapable of being anything but desire. I double checked the signs against online articles and conversations with friends. “they like me, right? ” All the signs stood in neon. And then it was gone. The texts stopped coming and we drifted from close confidants to strangers. I’ve seen the answer a few times.
I’m standing unassumingly. My eyes idle without the impulse for signs, but they come to me. The moment always comes too late. It comes after the feelings have quit throbbing . The affections departed. And then, I catch it from a distance– first recognizing them and then who they are with. The glittered glaze over each other’s eyes. A simple touch on the shoulder, and I know. I know in the same way when I see my never-flame’s person post about them. I get the answer I no longer needed. It was never a complicated formula but a monosyllabic answer, and I wasn’t it.
I’ve never felt grief here. It’s relief. Relief to know that it wasn’t me but something else I could never control. It’s a relief to see someone I cared so deeply for being adored how they want, and there’s humility in understanding I couldn’t be that person. The selfless part of love is wanting our beloved to be happy even if we aren’t a part of that happiness. Humans are selfish creatures, and love is a fantastical thing because it grows us bigger than we are capable of being– to put someone else before our own egos. Love for ourselves allows us to let go. We understand that we deserve love without some inflection at the end– a question mark where an exclamation point should be. Happiness for another person doesn’t mean we continue lacerating ourselves to prove we’re good sports. It just means that we hear the signs and accept answers that don’t sound good. The answers don’t come when we want them. They arrive when they are ready.
Go to everything heavy and weeping inside you with chicken soup and warm blankets.
The only way to heal is a pilgrimage to your wounds.
I think about Breonna Taylor’s mom a lot.
I’ve never met Tamika Palmer, but in Breonna’s childhood pictures,
I see something like my mom and me–
Joy smeared from cheek to cheek, with her little one bundled up.
In quotes, her grief shakes the text.
I’ve never met Tameka Palmer, but she had a daughter who was five days younger than I am.
Meaning that while my mom held me in California, she held Breonna in Michigan at the same time.
Now, my mom says all lives matter,
And I wonder that if I were killed sensely while I slept if my killers’ lives would weigh as heavy in her heart as mine does.
My mom isn’t talking to me right now, and still, I am sure she loves me.
I wonder what that love looks like on the other side of murder.
I wonder if she’d pray so hard it’d tear the sky apart and render God deaf because her shrieks are so loud. If the ozone later would break in half and capsize the Milky Way Galaxy.
I wonder how she’d hear “all lives matter” when it’s so obvious that three men didn’t agree. If that’d sound like a bell tolling or a scream or just a “fuck you” to all the years I was hers and now I am but I’m not.
I think about Tamika Palmer a lot. I think about Breonna more. I had five more days by fate getting here, and now, I have endless years that I shouldn’t know I have this counterpoint. But I do.
I do. The only difference is that I am white.
My mom is white,
and Tamika is black.
And that’s why Tamika grieves while my mom says, “All lives matter”.
A short poem about being a plant mom.
“I love you,”
My dad’s mouth struggles to say it.
Not from ailment or illness.
He learned love as a parent loving you enough to withhold, insult, isolate.
“I love you, and so I make you better in informing you how useless you currently are.”
I wonder how many times he translated “selfish” to “potential” or “worthless” to “worthy”, only that I never want my loved ones to translate everything I tell them.
That’s the thing about being an adult with a living parent, we notice the ghosts that haunted them throughout our childhoods. Parent melt from horrible to human.
He is sixty-five now, and age has softened the harsh corners of his language. He calls he every Sunday, and if he doesn’t say it, I say it first.
“I love you.” my mouth, an operatic megaphone to those words. “I love you. I see you. I’m proud of you”. I say them to him, the words my dad longed to hear from his dad.
I didn’t know it at the time.
That the pauses were teachers, too.
The delays were never denials, just deferrments,
A snooze button on my Veruka Salt screams, “I want it now”.
Even in the interim, the universe carries me somewhere.
I am a backseat driver while the universe is at the wheel, and I don’t know the terrain we’re traversing,
But she does. She hears my shouts for premature turns, unsuspecting pit stops.
“You are headed somewhere grand, sweet girl. Just give it time.”
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