Simplicities Don’t Tend to Stay

i am wistfully watching the cousin of guilt
he’s presenting himself yet again
Invitation-less at the party
she thought she’d closed the door
he seems to find his way nonetheless
dread is underrated
he makes her want to scream
but permits only a whisper
she’s reaching to the world
outstretched arms aching heart
she knows what she desires.
in front of her there lies
a paradoxical world of beauty and pain
the shattered looking glass
quietly accessorized with silent wishes
slipping desires and tainted experience
shadows of loneliness and echoes of strength
the red rose
its dropping petals
quietly brushing the earth
painting it red
reaching to the world craving this beauty
but frightened of what it holds
it’s dread that envelopes her
not because of what could be
but instead because of what is.
mist-like, it’s hard to be shaken
everyone’s feelings to be considered
for a stretching moment
she’s forgotten about her own
she knows what she desires
patience regained, she faces the world
reaching for things that cannot be touched
catching the open wind on her fingers
it’s there for just a moment
only to disappear
because simplicities don’t tend to stay.

I Remember

I remember black-and-blue patterned shirts and the stale smell of sebaceous oil.

I remember light-filled middle school stairwells.

I remember reading Little House on the Prairie. I remember feeling grown up. I remember telling people I was gay, meaning happy.

I remember telling people I was gay, meaning homosexual, and waiting for their response. I only remember some of their responses.

I remember wearing a blue sweater and realizing I couldn’t remember the last time I’d been happy. It was in math class.

I remember a red-cheeked teacher who accused me of lying. (I was.)

I remember the first lie I ever told. I was three, and had pulled all the toilet paper off its roll, crayoned it green, and stuffed it into the toilet. I blamed my neighbor.

I remember when my kindergarten teacher used the phrase “mom and dad” and I realized I was in completely unfamiliar territory. To this day, I still say “mommy and daddy.”

I remember sneaking stuffed animals into my bed: polar bears, a tiger, a hedgehog and her best friend, a calico cat.

I remember doodling hearts with the name “Matt McCartney” over my social studies homework. I remember hoping he would see them.

I remember a long night, laying next to my best friend. I wanted to say, “Let’s try kissing, just to see what it’s like.” The words were on the tip of my tongue for the next three months, and then she got a boyfriend.

I remember dim lights and “Cosmos,” (the Neil Degrasse Tyson remake) playing in the background.

I remember nights crying loudly and hoping nobody would hear. I wrote a lot of poetry this way.

I remember sipping coffee and telling him I liked bright pink lipstick because I had been watching old movies. This wasn’t true. I remember wondering why I couldn’t seem to tell the truth around him.

I remember when I finally cleared my bed of stuffed animals. Three polar bears, a tiger, a pink bear named Bubblegum, a hedgehog and a calico cat all relegated to the closet. I cried for the rest of that afternoon.

I remember the most intense loneliness I’ve ever felt: I remember a summer when my best friend was grounded and my other best friend had lost interest because I didn’t want to date him. The sun was hot and I was bored of rereading the same books. This was the first time I considered taking a knife to my own skin.

I remember a study session and a hug that lasted longer than we meant it to. As he walked out the door of the café, our eyes met and he smiled. That was the second time I fell for him. The third time was a mistake.

I remember being confused about how sex worked.

I remember laying backstage and sobbing. The older kids had told me that the theater was haunted. It wasn’t time for my entrance yet, but everyone else was onstage. I didn’t want to die.  I was seven years old, wearing a bright pink cardboard pig nose, and petrified of ghosts.

I remember the Columbus Science Museum and the women who would become my sisters.  

I remember my crush on Andy Stanford. We played with his model Power Rangers on the playground behind the school. Twelve years later, Andy grabbed my ass and told me it was an accident. It clearly wasn’t.

I remember the coffee shop alcove where we kissed. Neither of us knew what to do with our hands.

I remember leaning against a wall and sighing her name, like in the movies. I remember feeling weird and creepy for doing that. I never talked to her again.

I remember staying up until two in comfortable conversation. We’d start to drift off and then think of something else we wanted to say. I remember having the song “Norwegian Wood” stuck in my head the next day.

I remember coming home from school and my parents taking off my coat with shaking hands. We were all crying. (That night, we watched the Terry Gilliam movie Brazil. I felt uneasy and uncomfortable and unable to control anything. Death will do that to you, and so will the movie Brazil.)

I remember donut shops and interlaced fingers.

I remember a red mail-deposit box marked “To Santa.” I remember writing that for Christmas I wanted an end to global warming and for Justin Trudeau to be president of the United States. I hope I made someone laugh. I didn’t mean to make anyone mad.

I remember beating the shit out of the punching bag in my basement, until my knuckles bled. This was never enough.

I remember standing in my closet, picking out tomorrow’s outfit and writing a poem for the first time.