otters hold hands when they fall asleep,
so that they do not ever drift away from one another.
we used to joke about being reincarnated
as otters in our next life,
so we would never have to be away from one another.
I think even if we came back as atoms,
destined to be together, to form and move
you’d still find some way to leave me.
Listen, I know there were days you wanted to die
when the sky was so clear
you’d stand obnoxious underneath it
begging for stars to shoot you
just so you could feel at home.
I know about the ways you misplaced all the right words,
stockpiled every important social cue you ever missed
from the first time you learned you were wrong,
waited to make it right
once everyone stopped watching.
I know you let them beat up your beauty in bed
because redemption was still alive in you, howling relentless, gathering strength.
Felt like ecstasy when they pounded it out of you in the hard dark.
Those days of dead weather
got all strung together
and they spoke for you,
wore you down to telling everyone here it was a good life
so you could run back into the wails of your windfight.
I know the parts of your past that haunt you the most
are the days you weren’t being yourself,
and I know that’s why most of your past haunts you.
There were so many who found you out,
and they were right.
You were good.
A poem in which I don’t compare
you to anything.
In which you are not an
elevator that I got stuck on,
or a train that never left,
but no more than a person.
No less than a person.
Today, you are not a mistake
or a rip in my tights or a lesson.
Today, I take myself home and undo,
I take myself home and
write a poem about my skin
for the third time in a row and
then wash myself in it until
I’m clean and new.
A poem for the first full month
that didn’t hear the ache
of your name,
and for every month after.
A poem in which I am singular.
A poem in which I am more than
the people who never wanted me,
and I know this.