Sponge

Maybe I don’t care about anything

I told him

Because that bright spark of passion, that artist’s rebellion, that unfurling flower in your stomach that tells you, “create-” 

Was in everyone else’s garden

Across the white fence

Watched over by a painted gnome

And inaccessible to me.

I haven’t felt the need to do something

to create something beautiful and better

Since I don’t remember.

Since sophomore year when journalism seemed like a beacon in the dark sea of humanity

Since writing stories that made me feel like a poet

Weaving words in a way that meant something. 

I won’t blame my professors

or my boyfriend for distracting me.

And I’m not depressed or disinterested.

I still feel the thrill

of a voice onstage,

A warbling note or a word in a line of a poem that makes time stop air move makes me relish in the stillness of a moment

I still watch quietly

The crash bash bong brill shoot of a musical instrument

And fingers and mouths that I won’t ever understand

And minds that compose sounds and stories

That I wonder.

But I don’t wonder what I can achieve.

I don’t feel the siren call of a pen, anymore

I don’t want to channel art through me

Just in me.

And keep it safe and building like a dragon’s lair of gold

A reservoir of liquid shining metal that’s only mine and all the world’s

All that beauty.

But he said something about how that’s not all bad.

That maybe this doesn’t have to mean I’m empty.

He said, “maybe you have to take things in before you can put things out.”

Maybe I have to relearn to breathe before my lungs can remember how to produce melody.

Maybe this city is a hotspring

That will fill me

And rinse me

And gently turn my insides out like laundry on a hanging line

And scrub the trauma clean.

Heads and tails

Our kitchen sink was filled with bloody handcuffs.

I mean tomato juice.

From the vines that my mom grew in our backyard and the tomatoes my brother and I would pluck

And hurl at the roof of the gazebo.

They’d splat and jolt their way down the slope, mushy and perfectly funny.

My stairway was the one my brother fell down, after he was kicked.

I mean to say the sweeping spiral was padded in soft carpet

perfect for running toes on Christmas morning

And the feeling of flight as your mind lifted with possibility of a million glittering packages

Just before you rounded the bend.

My living room was for rocking on my haunches.

Because I had turned invisible.

Because he could not hear me see me feel me as inhabiting that word “daughter”

Who is a fragile thing, who shall be protected, who is a crying thing, to whom he should be gentle.

But daughter evanesced into object to hurl barbs at

An empty gunslinging

A desperate automated quickdraw drawing on anger so unquenchable it’s like it didn’t exist.

No roots.

Nothing to draw on.

No spaghetti dinners in the living room

No Christmas tree herding and frosted paned windows looking out on the world of lights like they were promising

My house was not promising.

Inside and out hands on both sides of the pane

It was a bear trap.

And the stranger stalking the downstairs was the steel sharp teeth.

I didn’t trust him when I hugged him

I hadn’t for a while.

And I wonder exactly when love left and emptied me.

The two houses made it more disparate,

two faces to a coin

But my brain tried in vain to flip over

And exist without the other side.

As it happens

When you try to rip yourself in half and purge every other week of your memory

Suck every other word of its truth like a pomegranate seed between your teeth

You get a tongue that is tired of probing.

You are left with a girl who is tired of remembering

And tired of thinking

And bleeding from the strings of the ripped flesh of each piece.

Semantics (daddy issues)

Have you ever heard of sexy that wasn’t also dark and sad?

That’s what I relied on, and a touch of reverse engineering

I’d add dark to my sad and, bippity boppity boo

wish to be sexy.

I don’t know if it ever really worked, ever gave me that leg up I thought it did. I was forcing them to feel for me so that maybe they’d feel something- I was grasping at straws before the barn set fire.

I saw it as my secret weapon, my stories, in a holster normal people would just call ‘daddy issues.’ But the way I could sum it up was always ‘family stuff:’

Family stuff because everyone else had a word for it, words I hated just on principal, because so many voices sang them back to me, words I never really believed even though they could’ve saved me.

And even now I feel it itching, creeping its way back up- I feel that current like re-entry it’s impossible to stop. But I stop. In the midst of whatever conversation I’m having with him,

and I think

“You are not that girl who overshares so they’ll feel sorry for you. You are not that girl who cries so that they’ll love you. Because pity earns you kisses but pity does not equal love, you are not a pity pity pity-ful you are not full of that anymore.” 

Family stuff was my identity, you see. It was my Common App essay, that bright shining trophy of a summary of a life and a being reduced to that holster that most normal people would just call ‘daddy issues.’

And yes, I do have daddy issues.

But recently I realized, am still realizing,

that maybe I also have me.