but for the rage.
If I cut open my chest
surely all that will come out is the
rage, spilling down my front
like vomit or molten lava.
If I hold it in any longer
the fever will kill me,
and if the fever doesn’t kill me
the grudges will.
It’s turning my fingers and toes
The rage, I mean. It is the only thing
taking up space in my body,
sitting on its haunches, gnawing
away at my guts.
It’s burning me up from the inside out
until everything out of my mouth is
coated in it,
I tried sucking on ice cubes
to make the rage melt away
but now I just have a belly full of water
to keep the rage afloat.
I dream in red
and speak in tongues
and do not remember the girl
who knew the words “sorry” and “love”.
I go to the dentist because
I like the excuse to have someone inside me.
The dentist suits his hands in rubber gloves
and puts his fingers in my mouth,
one by one,
groping the contours of my teeth.
I try to imagine what I must look like to him.
I try not to envy him for getting to see me this way.
When he is knuckle-deep, I think of how easy
it would be to bite down, pierce the skin,
tear clean through the bone.
If I swallowed his finger whole, he and I
would be one, and then he would be inside me
instead of the other way around. Either way
we consume and are consumed and
it doesn’t stop or start at the moment where
his fingers pry open my mouth—
it’s already happening, it’s always happening,
and I can’t control who consumes me but
I can convince myself that I could be the one
doing the swallowing for once.
Ten years old in Chicago, waiting for the L train,
waiting for my mother to let go of my hand.
Something in the city felt sacred and gold.
Gray sky and fuzzy clouds enveloped
glittering glass buildings, modern Mount Olympus,
and I knew all of the secrets in the world hid
somewhere just beyond my sight, waiting
for me to unearth them.
But the city was so big and it was only summer
only vacation only the last time my parents
would ever be happy and there was no time
to search for God (because surely
if God’s love is anywhere it would be here)
and I remember how badly I wanted it to be forever
how badly I wanted to stay
when I went back it was one parent less
one city over one train ride away and still
it was enough to find my heart in the spots
where the sunlight bounced off of skyscrapers.
December wraps me in her arms and tells me
she loves me.
She lays me on a bed of dead leaves
and takes what little I have left,
leaving sticky residue
on my calves, on my ribs.
Her love is cold but it is love nonetheless.
I would suffer much worse than frostbite
December digs my grave in a bed of snow
and tells me to get in.
She shoves dead leaves down my throat
and I open wide,
always eager to please.
I would choke on my love for her
if I had any room left to breathe.