Nineteen

I became aware of a pain / festering somewhere within me / he felt my body shiver / squeezed me against his heartbeat / until I fell back asleep / dreamed of all the bugs / exploding guts on car windshields / short lived and irrelevant / where do they go after that high-impact? / forgotten, like times of what used-to-be

I drove my sister to school this morning / got stuck at the crossroads of my youth / gazed across the plain / at all the memories those buildings contain / relationships squirreled away in the white bricks of that place / all the people I left behind / nostalgia isn’t a stranger / but it’s just as jarring to encounter

She preys on my neurons / though I tell myself she’s just a chemical imbalance / collapsed in a dark room, holding face in hands / if she’s not weeping, whimpering little cries in the silence / she’s staring me in the eyes, begging me to let her die / or she’s gazing out the bay window, wondering how far she could fly / one day, one day / those won’t mean the same thing

I hear my father’s voice, telling me / “don’t sell yourself short” / when I botched the explanation: I just want to write / publish all the feelings he was never prepared to hear / all the emotions that don’t win certificates, trophies, scholarships / I just want to write / but he deemed that dream insignificant

She screams, sometimes / death in her eyes, grey as the ribbons / binding your hands and feet / (chains would mean a different thing) / keep you safe, keep you subtle / we’ll get through this; you’re worthwhile / but she can only listen as long as he stays / nearby, soaking up his body heat / be a sponge until she’s absorbed all that’s gone wrong / I promise, she’s strong / enough; I mean: strong enough / bearing it all

Drove through the carwash / choking back tears because my sister / wasn’t in the passenger seat, sipping her Bigbby coffee / and the loneliness tore through me like shark teeth / row after row to destroy me / I’ve been thinking too much / about the faces marking chapters of my life / index fossils of a different variety / those who have been, gone, and died / collect them like treasure / but humans were never meant to live in display cases / I’m nineteen and missing people I shouldn’t be

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