this is just to say

tw: sexual assault

I hate you

but

when I say I hate you

I really mean

you’re okay

but

when I say you’re okay

I really mean

I like you

I like you a whole lot

and when I say I like you a whole lot

I really mean

I love you

but

when I say I love you

I mean

I adore you

I adore you with every fiber of my being

I feel you when you’re away

as if I have another heart beating outside of my body

the strings I have yet to sever

 

And when I say I have yet to sever them

I really mean

you have not let me go

 

And when I say you have not let me go

I really mean

I can still feel your hands around my throat

I mean

I can still see the bruise in the shape of a hand on my left wrist

I mean

I can’t remember why I didn’t yell for your grandmother in the next room

I mean

I wore combat boots that day

I mean

I haven’t let anyone touch me like that

I mean

When I see you I am 15

I mean

I am still yours

 

This is just to say

when I say you let me down

you did not break me

 

This is just to say

when I say no

I really mean

no

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the virtue of tenderness

Sometimes I wonder if you remember the snow globe

that I broke in your room when I was four years old,

curious, and desperate to see the world it held.

 

I had cried for hours that day,

Feeling such guilt and shame at my clumsy fingertips

as they attempted to pull it from your shelves.

 

It was a glorious shatter.

 

Afraid as I was, you were not mad.

You wanted to know why it had happened,

and when you did,

you told me that

you would have taken it down for me if I had asked.

 

It’s no wonder that your favorite things nowadays

revolve around

understanding.

 

***

 

You and I were born wildflowers in a field of thorns.

 

I’d like to understand the mindset of a man,

the twists and turns of ego,

rage.

 

I can feel some of it within me,

but I was born tender.

 

I cannot understand how gifted scarves

can turn to nooses

in mere moments.

 

Nor can I understand the piercing pain I felt last December.

 

When you break, I break.

 

I suppose.

 

***

 

When they ask you why your body wafts roses –

your face lavender, lemon, and honeydew,

please remember that their words mean nothing.

 

You were spawned from the soil of the Garden of Eden,

the fruits of Eve’s labors.

 

You were born into this world to be tender,

so please,

when they come questioning,

do not let the snakes that bind your wrists control you.

 

The image of Minerva that hangs from a chain around your neck

cannot match your strength,

your vigor.

 

You are the culmination of the cosmos,

the epitome of

 

Woman.

 

Hold that title with pride,

for your scars show that you have earned it.

 

You have bled,

wept,

rejoiced,

loved,

understood,

and for this;

 

You deserve nothing less than the world itself.