Keep Pretending

You have never laid a finger on me
but your grip holds
tight around my neck
and I have been gasping for air
since you first showed me
your temper erupting from
your palms landing on the
one you promised to care for

You proved to be a
volcano spreading your lava over
birthday parties and graduations

A tsunami ruining beach days and
washing away sand castles and smiles

You have never laid a finger on me,
but your grip left
bruises on my young mind
and you spent twenty-two years
pretending they weren't there

You are everything
I don't want in
a partner,
a friend,
or myself
and I will scrub your essence
out of my soul, mind, and body
until the only thing
linking us is our
last name

Blistered Hands

my blistered hands
have forgotten what it felt like to
reach for something that isn't
running in the opposite direction

forgive me if i doubt your love
for i have never held something
that didn't slip through my fingers
whenever i looked away

every time i wake with
a kiss on my cheek and
my heart safely in your hands

you are giving me
a break from
reaching because
you are
always
right here

i can’t save you, but i can love you (and that’s kind of the same thing, right?)

i can’t make those fires go away and they are still going to burn like hell.

i can’t stop the water from flooding your basements traveling up the stairs to your bedroom and wrecking old photographs

i can’t hide your heart from anyone without gentle hands and good intentions

i can’t save you from the thorns as you walk through rose bushes and I can’t promise my love won’t leave similar cuts

i can’t take away the hurt life has been throwing at us since we took our very first breaths

but,

i can let you see the softness behind my sharp edges and carry bandaids and peroxide to care for the cuts I will inevitably cause

i can hold your hand through the heat of the fires and have ice water ready when the burns get too painful to handle on your own

i can clean up the mess the flood leaves behind and take tons of new pictures to fill the destroyed photo albums 

i can hold your heart long enough for it to recover from the fights it had to endure

i can wait on the other side of the bushes and remind you that the smells of the roses were worth it
i can’t stop the hurt or prevent the pain

but,

i can promise to have my first aid kit in my backpack for whenever you need it

5 Stages of Grief

1 – Denial
I rush to your room,
a small iced tea from Dunkin’ in my hand,
lemon 2 sugars

I see your face and the world is still,
the screams in my head the
only thing I could hear

“She’s gone”
and whispered “sorry”s from
nurses who don’t even look at us
“The social worker should be here soon,
she died 5 minutes ago
we’re still filling out the
paperwork”

You lie in
that bed in
a room
overlooking
the water and
it almost feels like a vacation,
though your face shows
no color

You lie there and
my tears are falling
like each of my eyes
a broken faucet,
filling the sink of
This Can’t Be Happening
until we reach the point of
This Is Not Happening

This can’t be happening

We go home and
the air around me is
imperfectly still,
completing the scene I created in my head.
You’re coming home soon
I’m going to see you again
Repeat
Repeat

I search for your voice
every time my phone rings,
I won’t eat pickles
except on cheeseburgers
because I’m waiting for you
to share them with

I walk into your house and I can almost see you

Sitting

Asking me what I want for dinner
and why I haven’t done anything with
those papers on the table
Almost

2 – Anger

Why did you leave me
You didn’t have to leave me
Not yet
It wasn’t supposed to happen yet
You didn’t even tell me
I need another day
just 5 fucking minutes and
I could’ve seen you.
Am I not even important to you?
Do I not matter?
How can you leave me here like this?

3 – Bargaining

Maybe I could’ve given you another day.
Maybe if I missed that concert the night before,
maybe if I sat by you all night and
didn’t let go of your hand
maybe you would still be here
maybe I could’ve helped your lungs
to keep breathing,
your heart to keep beating
I should’ve been there to save you

I’m sorry

4 – Depression

I know this is my fault

But I don’t know how to live like this
I don’t want to live like this

My heart is empty and
there’s no one to fill this space and
I don’t want anyone to fill this space
it’s not theirs
it’s not even mine
it’s yours

I see you in everything and
how can I get out of bed
knowing you won’t be there to
catch me when
I start crumbling

I am crumbling

I can’t stop crumbling

I don’t even want to live anymore

5 – Acceptance

One year later,

my heart still feels empty sometimes,

maybe most of the time,

but other times…

Other times,
I know I have enough of you to
fill the empty spaces to the ceilings with
photo albums and
home videos and
everything I learned from the
greatest teacher out there
(but nothing involving math homework
because that was never your specialty).

I don’t know where you are or
what you’re doing and
I could spend years trying to
figure out if there is a heaven,

but right now…

right now,
I am trying to fill that
emptiness in my chest with

everything you would be proud of.

M E N T O S

I keep my emotions in bottles on a shelf in my room.
Each of a different volume and size.
Lined up by color in rainbow order.

Not mixing.

Never mixing.

Each bottle screwed tight.
Closed
Organized
Standing still on the shelf
as I try to
forget about their existence.

I turn around for 5 seconds and I am
soaked
with the liquid from every bottle.
Red, orange, green, blue, purple
erupt
and the only evidence a blue wrapper with the letters

M E N T O S

And like diet coke, it didn’t take much for my emotions to splatter on every surface.
Like diet coke, I exploded.
Like diet coke, I lost
control.

You slipped a Mentos into each of
my bottles of emotions,
took a picture and video,
and left the room for
someone else
to clean up.