for anonymous

The spring’s fresh green buds would sprout undetected
under fall’s crumpled fists
had nature not released her spent leaves to the wind,
revealing the minimal elegance of bare winter branches.

It is tempting to hold on
to let the newspapers of our past pile in the corners so high
they bleed out into the middle of our rooms
cluttering our present so densely we cannot find our away through to the future.

We are scavengers bringing home every desperate scrap of affection —
all the love and attention they never gave us when we needed it.

You don’t want to go in there
such a mess I’ve made inside.

Faded curtains drawn so as not to see the dust
clinging to boxes of defenses we cannot bear to throw away
and wishful souvenirs of things that never happened.
Buried up to our necks in reservations.

You are not the image your mother tried to make for you.
You are not a klutz
who has no common sense
who can’t tell her left from her right
who always has her face in a book
(as if that were a bad thing.)
You are not the braces, bad hair cut and acne scars.

Ok, so maybe you are a bit of a nerd
and you can’t hold Utthita Hasta Padangustasana (Extended hand-to-big-toe pose)
So what’s wrong with that?

You don’t need to remember every trauma
every dirty look
every bad name
every promotion you didn’t get
every time there was no one there to hold you while you cried
every time you found the courage to stand up for yourself but got pushed back down anyway
the shame of shabby hand-me-downs and clearance rack couture
the stupid mistakes
the things you shouldn’t have said.

When you got your period first and the other girls at camp whispered about the tampons in your suitcase
the days when you thought you might never see him again
the days when you didn’t think you were strong enough to take it anymore
the time you drank too much and he date raped you
the time you drank too much and he date raped you
the time you drank too much and he date raped you
the time he ripped up a condom package in your face because it had been a month but you still weren’t ready
the night he picked you up and threw you across the room because you didn’t love him as much as he wanted to be loved
the time you drank too much and drove home when you shouldn’t have because you didn’t feel safe
every time he didn’t know he loved you until it was too late

every time you moved and had to start all over again
and you told the kids you hoped would be your friends where you had been
and they told you to stop bragging and walked away
Or that time in fifth grade when the boys told you to call Thor’s might hammer “maboner” instead of Mjolnir
and you did because you didn’t know any better
and you wanted them to like you
you wanted to be in on the joke
you wanted to laugh with them instead of being laughed at
but it turned out they just wanted to make fun of you.

Beyond driving home a point in a poem about emotional hoarding,
this memory is garbage.
It will never come in handy.
It will not make you stronger or braver or less vulnerable to future attacks.
It’s time to throw the motherfucker out.

The fissures running through your heart like earthquake fault lines
are not less likely to rip open if you stand there staring them
frozen in the fearful shadow of yesterday’s pain,
remembering the why not over and over again
trying not to feel anything new.

There is no get out of suffering free card
death is the only exemption
unless what’s next is worse
and you come back without the benefit of the hands you didn’t use
the dreams you failed to pursue
the chances you didn’t take
the love you failed to give.

Drag your bags of exhausted excuses to the curb
and make space for truth to stretch out.
It doesn’t matter who you were:
become who you want to be.


crop ali ducks