I was a sick girl hiding in back rooms
admiring the way chemicals smelled like citrus
and floor cleaner. Nothing wrong with that I thought
learning the names of things we couldn’t say in better company.
I wanted to feel better and it’s always about that
this feeling of being so repulsed by your own flat
two-dimensional sense of self that
stained mattresses on floors and baby this is a nice
buzz put a smile on my face and a shine in my eyes.
One time I talked to an old friend on the phone
and tried to sound like my old self
light as meringue on lemon pie. Not geeking, tweaking, nail-biting
I could lie and say this road is long behind me, but sometimes I see
that sick girl in the rear view mirror
waiting to be slipped on like a favorite dress or that plum-colored lipstick
I loved back in 1999.
I wish I could bury her in her convulsions of plastic glory
I wish she was a seed that would grow into a cherry tree and I could
taste the sweet of overcoming something
I never could understand and it’s so close. I have my victory
but am kept humble by all that loss and
when the reaper stands in the light and I can’t breathe
and I want to hurt myself because sometimes the world is too vast and I
am so small when I am riding the day, waiting for the next unbroken
stream of sameness.
I know how easy a virus it is, this contagion
that never leaves your bones and when I see them in corners or on streets
I want to embrace them and say it will be but a lullaby but
when you’re an addict the only possible cure is the truth
but that’s like saying maybe this winter the ice won’t come again, or that people
will learn to always be kind. It’s there, it’s present, it’s
sunshine blues and tenuous promises. Still. I am entitled to nothing
but faith I can make it until tomorrow and the only way out
is through. It’s been years but time is not the measure of what we are
capable of. It’s that moment
of who you want to be when you want more
than just to feel better for a little while.