Thursday, April 10, 2014

Love is (Not a feeling)

I've been writing a lot this month. Mostly losing myself in poetry, with the way it sits on my tongue and the way it sounds like a revival when I hear it spoken out loud. But also in a stories I've been working on, and essays and in journal entries.
This is a little bit from one of the stories I've been working on.

I can feel the slow deterioration of my body.
Every aching muscle sending off vibrations in my being echoes his name. Sometimes I think that these days his name resides in every part of me, that it is there just nestled between bones and muscles, tucked away in corners of organs, just waiting for a nerve impulse to send it shooting up my spinal cord.

It is these days when I feel as though I am collapsing into the sun.
I can almost visualize the tantalizing physique, the outline of my ribcage as it glistens in the sunlight. There are cob webs hanging off the top ribs, dusty gathered upon the surface. Some have been cracked, and you can see the fragments of bone hanging on loosely, see the scars from where the wounds were ripped open repeatedly, never left to set in the way they were supposed to.

The warm water licks my skin and it is as if I am baptizing myself, submerging myself in liquid and trying to scrub the dirty from my skin, rinse away the guilt and the regret with the apricot shampoo.

Whenever I think I am moving on, that there is a slightest chance I can be more than who I’ve been, something comes and sets me back. I can feel the metaphorical kicks to my stomach, my spine as I am curled up in a fetal position. I am vibrating, perched delicately upon this idea of wholeness, only to feel the stitches being pulled from my sides, feel the broken ribs piercing through my heart reminding me of all the times…
All the times I have stood up against a giant only to walk away with my head hung in failure. All the times I have wanted to believe in love and only come away with empty hands stained red as I try to stop the bleeding. All the times there has been this voice in my head that tells me I am unworthy, that I will never be the person I want to be, that I will never walk away unafraid and unscathed. Sometimes I think I feel too much.
I can feel myself caving in under the weight of the words every time a pretty boy tells me I am only good for one thing, every time I close my eyes and remember his hands on my skin for the first time and the last time, every time I see those eyes in my dreams that now belong to a boy who is buried under six feet of ground that is growing up around him. This is a living metaphor for beauty rising out of death, the world awakening after it has been shunned and ripped apart.

But ever since he left, ever since I first felt the taste of desperation and please love me on my tongue, ever since I learned that feeling something is preferable to feeling nothing and even the bruises are an angry man’s way at muttering a prayer, I have felt myself becoming skin and bones.

There is a shelf in my closet belonging to clothes that no longer fit me, are baggy when I try to pull them over my hipbones, that sit crooked on my shoulders.
I am dissolving.

In the very same way I am sitting in a tub of water praying for purification I don’t know if I have any right to ask for. How many times can you say the words Father, I have sinned and still expect forgiveness to come like deliverance to come like an answer to every prayer I’ve ever prayed, even the ones that are an embrace and a thrust apart in the same breath, I love you and I hate you intermingled into one raspy sound.

How many times can you wear another man’s weight upon your shoulders and claim it as your own? I am hunched over, my shoulder muscles separating from the bone because of all this weight I’ve forced upon them.
Someone told me after the funeral that energy is neither created nor destroyed, only changed forms. It was meant to be an encouragement, and in some ways it was. Because after that moment I felt him everywhere, in the trees and the mountains and the puddles that whispered back to me the reflection of a girl collapsing in. But I also began to wonder if the weight I’ve been carrying isn’t mine at all, just transferred in from other people because it can’t be destroyed.

It sits upon my shoulders, falling onto the first strong branch that awaits its arrival. Maybe I am the girl standing with her hands raised to the winds, collecting anguished fragments of brokenness that settle on my hips and crack my ribs with every breath I breathe.
From down the hall I can hear them, dancing in the kitchen or playing another round of Monopoly with the radio on because these days the silence is deafening. I understand it because these days the sound of my own heart is strong enough to send shivers up my spine.

I am rubbing my skin raw, turning it red with unspoken apologies and guilt that is not mine to carry but I hoist it onto my shoulders anyway, swallow it back like I am downing a shot of whiskey, a twinge as I feel it settle inside.

This is the only way I know how to survive.

I wonder how many times you can pray for mercy before God becomes tired of listening.

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