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

guilt-ridden me.

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

a prelude

of who you want to be when you want more

than just to feel better for a little while.

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