I won’t even try turning this into poetry. This is dirt.
At the age of fifteen, I was convinced I was ugly. Hell, maybe I was. Not just ugly as in unappealing, but as in Franken-style societal reject. These words were repeated so many times in so many different ways – from there she stands, ugly as fuck, to c’mon, aim for her cunt – the insults were varied and sometimes rather creative.
This went on for so long, I eventually started believing I was, indeed, the ugliest girl alive. I started to alienate from the world. From teachers to family to strangers on the street, I genuinely thought I saw anyone who as much as laid eyes on me grin at the sight of the distorted teenage-thing. To this day, I still don’t know if this was actually the case, or maybe just a reflection of my state of mind. What I do remember is the shame.
I tried everything. I even started saving up money for a nose job. I covered myself in hoods and caps, not wanting to give the world the pleasure of peeking through the curtain. Nope, no free tickets here. Try the next freak show! I grew my hair as long as I possibly could, letting it cover my face. For years I was certain the only solution for someone with a face like mine was to make sure it stayed hidden, which meant, I’d never,
cut my hair again.
Well, fuck. You.
I’m on a train without rails
It never moves, just switches station
I send memes to friends I no longer talk to and tell them how I’ve always loved them
I laugh hysterically at the kitchen table at 11 PM
I remember the men who tried to touch me shut up you’re disgusting disgusting I’ll eat you don’t touch me claw bash you in my voice becomes theirs shut up shut up shut your fucking mouth and collapse on my bed need sleep the notebook burns against my cheek mass hysteria he says, mass hysteria is when a large group of people are all imagining the same thing it’s like your books Harry Potter isn’t real you know hahahahahaahahaha so have you been talking to God today I ask and on my bed again my skin longs for knuckles no no not really I actually love myself to death I have nothing to give myself but pleasure the sheets the rustle hello do you want to fuck everything is so beautiful desirable I’m coming over and over and it’s not enough and I read my messages and god they hate me this time I’ve really ruined it they’re all angry they want to hurt me now no one cares no one’s thinking of me no one wants so see me happy and where are we going can I step off please no I don’t think this is for me excuse me can I step off can I step can I step can I can I can I can I can I can’t
Well, would you look at that. You’re spending a lot of time on the couch caught up in that self-righteous poetry, aren’t you? You’re eating quite well, aren’t you? You’re not kept up at night by compulsions, are you? I’ve noticed your waistline growing, the fruits of Eden dangling from your stomach. I noticed your old jeans don’t fit. You’re no longer the extremely thin girl with the [unlikely] big boobs, but the average weight woman with the [pornographically] huge titties. I’ve noticed you stopped shaving your armpits. I noticed the floppy flesh on your upper arms as you were wearing a sleeveless shirt the other day, how they wriggle back and forth as you keep typing those damn words. I’ve noticed the paintings hanging on the wall. You no longer fit the frames of the conveniently sexy white girl with bruises adorning milky soft skin, bones protruding and a submissive please-like-me gaze, the kind of self-destruction that looks good on Tumblr but only induces laughter in real life. I’ve noticed you don’t cover your hips anymore. I’ve noticed the blood drying on your bathroom scissors. I’ve noticed your mouth becoming ugly, speaking out and shattering the walls of indifference.
I couldn’t be more proud of you.
I might be living a stolen life.
Not literally stolen, of course. I’m not one to believe there is a certain amount of happiness in the world, or that some just aren’t destined for it. Still, I know a few people who could have been here in my place. Women I never knew but who walked the same paper thin stage floor, women who danced on glass and fell through. Women who never stood a chance.
You’re bipolar? You must be incredibly talented. So many great writers were bipolar, did you know that? Agatha Christie. Virginia Woolf. Sylvia Plath.
But Sylvia died. She taped the door to her children’s bedroom then gassed herself to death using her own oven. As for me? I was born to the 21st century. I wasn’t burned a witch. My brain wasn’t fried on the table of an analphabetic doctor and my frontal lobe wasn’t punctured with surgical steel. I was born to a wealthy country with one of the best health care systems in the world. I got help. I got my brain chemistry corrected with a crispy, white blackberry-tasting pills. I got free psychotherapy. I got better.
And now I’m here, awake and hungry, in all likelihood abut to pursue my dreams. I have decades of time to produce poems and novels, to hold someone’s hand under the covers, to eat and fuck and to pick another fight. Good on me. And good on the world – to be blessed with a lifetime’s worth of my words! High in fat and pretentiously spiced! Could you possibly have wished for better?
There are days I feel bleak. Wasted, like a wreath of flowers on a coffin. Had Sylvia lived through her disease this world would have so many more of her works to relish in. Works that comforted girls with sharp fringes and sliced thighs. Who am I to compare to her? Who am I to take her, or any woman’s place? They all died and I lived. As if I needed another proof there is no god.
I’m living a stolen life. A life that rages like waves never reaching shore, drowning everything in its way, a life that shrieks and bulges like a slaughterhouse on fire. A life that should have been theirs.
But I can’t say I’m not glad it’s mine.
You wake up on bus number 6. All the other passengers are asleep. Their faces shrunken, eyelids hanging down their chin. Some are hanging over their seats like laundry left to dry, one man with his head half-way through the windscreen, as if he tried to escape but were left immobilized by a sudden apathy. The brakes are singing, the currents of Styx licking the wheels. You’ve had this dream before.
You’re walking trough the subway train. No people, poles or benches, no scrapped newspapers covering the floor or cigarette butts smeared on the seats. The engine’s dry, the lights in the tunnel have gone out. The windows are covered with faces, slick bodies pushing up against the glass, trying to get in. They all have your voice.
Nowhere calls you as the detonator sets to zero. You haven’t bothered packing, you know you’re not going anywhere. The man in the elevator smiles at you. He asks you to place a coin underneath his tongue. You kiss his cheek and leave a message on your answering machine. I’m sorry, now’s not my time. Please check back Sunday.
When she walked into my life, cocked shotgun in her hands and grinning slits on her hips, my first instinct was to play dead. I didn’t want to know her story. I put my head on the grass and peered at her trough half-shut eyelids. She wore lipstick the shade of sun-bleached guts and smelled like that time I almost confessed my love to my best friend. I couldn’t stop thinking – were my hands clean enough? I had swabbed every page clear, leaving no trace of weakness, yet myself I reeked of imprisonment. She bent my head back and breathed into my nostrils, and I felt it – the wash of summer, chasing away the stench of gin and ejaculate, buns left in the oven too long and hospital waiting rooms. In that moment I dreamt of kissing her on her stomach curve, of dipping my fingers into soft flesh and letting her into the parts of me that even the vultures wouldn’t pick. I lay awake staring into the ceiling and for the first time the hands that caressed my folds were tender, mimicking the touch of another woman. I was slipping trough the barrier, seeing myself trough the eyes of this enchanting, plum-haired creature who had seen into my most naive hopes. And what I saw was promise.