My second grade teacher liked to ask us,
“How do you feel today, on a scale of one to ten?”
Ten always meant I’m super, thank you
and one was always not today, Mrs. MacAuley, not today.
But I never liked numbers, they would always
twist and rebel against my mind so I chose
to speak in colors instead.
January third - I am the color
of mint chocolate chip ice cream
but I’ve eaten all the chocolate chips.
I am calm.
February seventh - I am a bruise of
blues and violets today. I think it would
be best if I sat by the window.
These are unhappy colors.
April eleventh - I am turquoise, I am magenta,
I am every color in the rainbow.
April thirtieth - I am gray, I am silent.
May first - I am orange, the color of melting
creamsicles on a beach in July.
June twelfth - I am as yellow as the school bus
that will bring me home to summer. I am free.
Twelve years later, I still use colors.
The winter makes me feel cobalt blue, the ocean
turns me a seafoam green. Violets and purples
leave me uneasy and scarlet is a fever of fury.
Some nights I drown in shades of navy, denim,
and cornflower but other nights I meditate in forests of
harlequin and shamrock.
you leave me a blinding white followed by a soft yellow:
the color of sunlight after a period of darkness.
Some Things You Could Do To Heal Yourself:
Get lungs that do what they’re supposed to. Yours keep letting you down. They shrink down to nothing when you’re scared, when you need deep breaths the most. They are useless, failing organs. Replace them.
Don’t kiss the boy with no bicycle. Don’t kiss the girl with moon lips. Don’t kiss wild animals or atom bombs. Don’t kiss.
Remember metaphors are not bandages. You silly little girl, you think you’ve survived so long that survival shouldn’t hurt anymore. You keep trying to turn your body bullet proof. You keep trying to turn your heart bomb shelter. You silly thing. You are soft and alive. You bruise and heal. Cherish it. It is what you are born to do.
Remember you can leave. You can always leave. Take your baby, your backpack, get in the car and drive. Maybe to Brooklyn, to Oakland, somewhere you’ve always thought it would be romantic to call home. Come now, you promised yourself. You promised you’d live through this.