This is my senior AP Literature project. It is probably my favorite piece that I’ve ever written because of it’s parallel to my story and it’s proximity to my heart… so I figured it was time that I share it 🙂
I used to carry nothing,
Empty satchels replacing the rotting cavities where my organs once took root.
Concavity, self-inflicted, the shovel still grasped firmly in my skin-stripped right hand
And the remains of every mosaic shattering of human emotion
Tossed in a hearty pile at the bottom of an algae laden well
Within the pupils of my eyes;
Taking in everything,
Processing not one,
Except what had to be done
To get through until the next thing
That had to be done.
I used to carry indignant red scars in the crevices of my hips,
Battle scars from a battalion I never cared to join,
The marks of sleepless nights spent one quivering step too far from heaven.
Frail arms wrapped around my collarbones,
Crunch crunch crunching them like fresh bubble wrap
To drown out the interminable roar of a cerebrum
That some would say was lost
But that I would fervorously claim had merely made it home.
I used to carry my self worth like dusty old books shelved on my ribs
The distance between them determining whether or not more than
Cotton candy clouds could pass through the confines of my lips.
I used to carry the memories of
Pieces of the stars dancing along my bedroom ceiling as I
Tried in vain to pay the rent that would let them hold me captive.
I carried the burdensome questions of psychologists like they carried their clipboards as shields
So they’d never have to peer inside a mind trenched like the third world war.
Only sixteen years old but I had lived near sixteen lives,
And I never had an answer
Except the blatant glare I found when I first started down that shaft of white once upon an April
That if I can not love me
If I can not fix me
No one can love me
No one can fix me.
I carried on my shoulders old t-shirts splattered
With red paint I called organic
And I carried sulfur on my socks
From the nights that I went manic.
And I did not say, “I love you” back for five and a half years
Because I didn’t carry love
I carried nothing.
I carried nothing because love petrified me
Love was a binding excuse
Love was why he sized me up (down) like a prize at a carnival game
Love was why I was lumped with war veterans according to the DSM-5
And love was the filthy reason why I stayed,
foundation on my arm to hide the bruise.
I carried the knowledge that his mother would always think he was a very nice
And his mother is going to be smiling at his wedding and probably think that he is a very nice
And if I tell anyone they will say
Boys will be
And so I carried it alone.
Until it hurt too much to carry it.
And so I let go.
And I carried emptiness
Emptiness all I knew
And it was all I thought I would ever know.
But I left the empty behind one day
In my lungs I exchanged for
And my arms learned to bear weight once again
As I carried recovery
A burden too heavy to carry alone
So I divided it up against the people who loved me
I chose to carry trust
Root my achilles in these hearts that radiated warmth even when I told them
I was born cold blooded.
Because I wasn’t really.
I gave the labels “anorexic” “depressed” “dysmorphic” to the devil
And extended my arms to the sky and
Received new things
Lighter things, yet finally, tangible things
And I carry still pain shame regret
Anger hurt loss
The memories of how it felt in the middle of Sahara when even water had too many calories and even one more day had too many acidic sentiments
I still carry raw tormentation analogous to the empty where my father’s grey matter once rooted.
I carry the cries of my mother as we sobbed over two words that changed every damn atom in that house from hearthstone to gunmetal,
And I carry the guilt directed towards my own tear ducts, far too dry
And I carry the images of a wedding aisle walked alone
A baby boy named after a grandfather who he will never know as more than a word in a hymnal
A black dress and a line of well-wishers doing their duty to watch someone they never knew
(Not half as well as I did
Not half as loved as I loved him
Not half as broken as I am broken)
Be lowered into the ground, into insignificance,
As they tell me he is at peace
When he was already at peace.
He was at peace with us.
A table on four legs never falters unless one leg is kicked out;
I carry scrawls in red on the tattered pages of the book I ravaged for answers only to find that my innocence was worth 50 pieces of silver to the very thing that made me.
I carry so much more than I can carry.
My biceps burn under the weight, constant reminders of the hellfire I believe I deserve for not
Carrying enough love or enough faith or enough purity or enough normalcy or enough beauty or enough plenty.
But now I also carry words.
I carry a weapon laced with toxic ink
I carry the ability to see in technicolor even when my own body shows up diluted in the mirror
And I sleep between pieces of paper
And allow my truths to soften into pillows.
For every half pound robbed from these bones I abhor
I somehow have found a full replacement in hope
Hope not in the heavens,
Hope in humanity,
Hope in my ability to contribute to the cosmic rhythm’s resonation.
I picture the day when I retreat from my wishes of total combustion
And I make peace with the trauma I never asked to carry.
In such visions,
I close my eyes and I let my
fingertips slip between the mountainous melancholies of my ribs;
in the dark I see her,
I see me,
five years old and deserving of at least sixty more,
blonde curls and bulging cheeks and eyes the color of holy water,
not one single bruise nor hurt to foresee her tomorrow or to remind of a yesterday in a salt spattered circle, outcast from safety,
and I recall that
the only way to make it out alive is to swallow your past.
I pick her up
and I tell her I love her and
I tell her I am so sorry and
we sob together
My own vocal chords intertwining in unison for once without intention of stifling, suffocating.
And then i do it again
each piece of flesh gone is a piece of her future coming to fruition.
I do not know how many calories anguish has and nor do I mind.
I watch her melt into age as she slowly becomes nothing more than plasma painting pine;
I hear the scream morph,
each new tragedy of the years passing by an octave of variation
as I devour the mind that strangled itself with the blood vessels it begged to keep reproducing
the arms that layered themselves in scars and the hands that held the razors
the legs that ran for hours on end to feel just enough everything to take away one single something
the hips that he took the title of self from with one swift slap across
the face that the mirror could never lead to meet its own eyes
and I swallow it all
and the space in my chest is filling with muscle and noise
and then nothing;
I hold in my palm one beating heart,
hers and mine.
I hold it up to my ear like a shell
and I choose to believe it contains the callings of the sea,
unfathomable in its ability to exist without belonging to anyone but beknownst to all,
and I listen
and it says
I hope you let everything go
except for me.”
I lift it to my lips,
my own ancient blood still dripping from the aorta,
and I swallow it whole
and I carry nothing anymore.
I only carry today
I only carry this heart
I only carry me.
This is what I hope to carry.