…I tied my tongue like a ribbon in my baby sister’s hair,
like laces in the shoes of my little brother,
like a bow around a gift I gave to my father and mother,
and my silence equaled every Christmas morning
where we were still happy and grateful.
But my silence was also his next girl’s eyes
falling like timber where no one chose to hear,
her roots ripped up,
her ground eroding to the din of an old man’s zipper.
Twenty years later I wake up in damp sheets
my body trembling to the ghost of her voice cracking like a frozen lake.
And I didn’t even know her name.
Never saw her face.
Only heard the rumors
that he’d moved on to the hemorrhage of another perfect thing
And now here I sing through cinder,
through microphones raised like white flags in war zones,
through poems I’ve dug from my throat like fishing hooks.
From here I look back at my voice lowered to half mast.
How he must have stood there with his dirty hand on his dirty heart
laughing like a broken levy
as his next girl woke with body bags beneath her eyes
and enough shame in her gut to give the hurricane her own name.
If I could see her face, if I could face the I of her storm
how would I ever tell her that I speak for a living?
When I’m crazy, you tell me it’s just the chemicals in my brains mixing and unmixing themselves at the wrong time.
When I’m in love, you tell me it’s as real as sunshine and we’re greater than just molecules and air.
So I choose to believe different things, depending on my love. Depending on my chemicals. At the time.