Monthly Archives: August 2017

Sidewalk Funerals for Dead Birds

what is it that people say about
distance?

you are exactly the type of person to
photograph dead birds. it is something I
love about you.

it’s been over 97 weeks and I still

don’t know how to
write about you
in the past
tense.

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How to Fix Your Face

I was eight when I first discover how to close the gap between my private and public face.

It started with cold, damp paper towels pressed against my eyes in the school bathroom. I sat on the toilet, face to the sky, letting the water pool along the swollen skin. It stung. By the time I can leave the stall, most signs of my panic attack had slipped into my normal features – save the swollen, cherry-colored downward crescent of my mouth. I quickly learned how to escape from rooms while drawing the least attention possible as I ran away – to bathrooms, to empty classrooms, to my mother who had to rearrange her life and work in the school office for my health.

From there, it became an art. I prided myself in putting everything back together – in rearranging my face to hide the roaring distress – in settling the surface of the water and allowing the piranhas, with their snapping jaws and glassy eyes, their freedom beneath the stillness.

But fuck if it doesn’t get harder. Maybe it’s that the wounds got worse, the damage more visible.

A bad hookup led to covering bruises, hiding burst blood vessels along and inside my eyes. It looked like someone had thrown paint in my corneas. When I caught others looking, despite the hours I had spent with ice packs over my eyes, I tried to smile. I can’t remember if my lip was split or if something else made my mouth ache. No one asked about the red-tinged bruises lining my throat. But I remembered them every time I swallowed.

I covered the raised, patchy mess of my face with plain Greek yogurt. I left metal spoons in my freezer, then pressed them against my eyelids. I wish I could say I had seen stars – instead I saw nothing.

When I opened my eyes, the room struggled to take shape before me.


I’m older now.

My private face has shifted almost entirely inward – the river has frozen over just enough to allow safe passage. I swallow panic and it is sharp against my tongue. But sometimes I find myself locked in a bathroom stall, chin tilted skyward, cleaning the saltwater from my cheeks – reducing the swelling with paper towels as cold as I can handle. I feel so small in these moments… as if I’ve stepped out of time and I’m eight again, somehow equally privy to the horrors to come and surprised when they arise.

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Seasons

Today I am picturing the year like a long table and each month is a different body, a different person who sits beside me.

January slipped her hand in mine. February brought me flowers, the snow from the petals melting into a puddle. I can still trace my name through the moisture left behind. March was loud, booming, his hands punctuating every breath and I found myself biting my tongue when he asked how I felt. April was softer – April brought me soup in a bright red bowl but no spoon. May watched me drink straight from the bowl and only laughed when some dribbled on my chin. June sunk into my arms – June asked for coffee, for time, for the sweet light of morning to shine forever. July kissed my cheeks and braided my hair and invited me home. July asked me what I was missing.

The days are peeling slowly, with anticipation, as I wait to uncover August. She is beautiful and still, not unkind but precise – every movement building.

I don’t know what’s coming next. I sit at the table with my palms up, open, waiting for the harvest of fall.

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